New three-year plan unveiled to improve mental health services in Wales

New three-year plan unveiled to improve mental health services in Wales

Children and young people with mental health issues and older people with dementia will be prioritised over the next three years

Improving services for children and young people with mental health problems and older people with dementia will be key priorities over the next three years, Health and Social Services Mark Drakeford announced today.

Professor Drakeford unveiled Together for Mental Health, the Welsh Government’s 10-year strategy to improve mental health and well-being, covering all ages.

The Minister has today launched the formal consultation on the phase two delivery plan for Together for Mental Health which sets out key actions for the Welsh Government, the Welsh NHS, social services over the next three years.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “One of the key priorities is to improve the quality of life and care for people with, or at risk of, dementia and their carers. The Welsh Government will produce a dementia strategic plan by December 2016.”

The plan also focuses on ensuring children and young people experiencing neuro-developmental conditions, such as autistic spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, are able to access timely assessment and treatment which supports their continued social and personal development.

Other priority areas include:

Ensuring mental wellbeing is given equal priority with physical wellbeing in the development and delivery of services.

Providing better outcomes for women, their babies and families with, or at risk of, perinatal mental health problems.

Ensuring people of all ages experiencing eating disorders are able to access appropriate and timely services. Health boards will be asked to deliver eating disorder treatment services as close to home as possible, in either inpatient or community settings.

Improving the quality of life, health and wellbeing of older people in Wales by reducing loneliness and unwanted isolation.

A concerted effort to continue to sustainably reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems.

The Welsh Government spokesman added: “In Wales, more than £600m a year is invested in mental health services, more than any other service in the NHS.

“The additional £16m-a-year which is being invested in mental health services, which was announced last year, together with the extra investment for mental health services announced as part of the Welsh Government’s draft budget for 2016-17, will ensure resources are available to deliver these priorities.

“The £16m is already helping to develop more effective perinatal services, improving access to psychological therapies and child and adolescent mental health services and providing support to people diagnosed with dementia.

Professor Drakeford said: “Mental health is one of our main priorities and, as a government, we are investing record-levels – more than £600m this year – in our mental health services.

“One in four adults experience mental health problems or illness at some point during their lifetime, while one in six of us will be experiencing symptoms at any one time.

“One in 10 children between the ages of five and 16 has a mental health problem and many more have behavioural issues.

“Our new three-year delivery plan for Wales’ mental health strategy sets out the key priorities we want to address.

“We want to ensure people of all ages experience improvement to their mental health and wellbeing. But if and when mental ill health happens we want to ensure people are treated with dignity and respect.”

68,468 children given polio vaccine

As many as 68,468 children below the age of five years have been administered with polio vaccine as part of the Pulse Polio Immunisation Programme in Pathanamthitta district on Sunday, according to official sources.

Of the 68,468 children who were administered with the polio vaccine, 312 belonged to parents from outside Kerala, sources said.

Pulse Polio booths

Health Department has opened a total of 1,005 pulse polio booths in different parts of the district for the smooth conduct of the nationwide polio eradication programme.

Officials records show that the district houses a total of 77,809 children below the age of five years.

Kept open

All pulse polio booths were kept opened from 8 am to 5 pm at various Primary Health Centres, sub-centres, Anganwadis, bus stations and at the Thiruvalla Railway Station, besides various other public places across the district on Sunday.

Mr K.Sivadasan Nair, MLA, inaugurated the programme buy administering the vaccine to a kid at a function held at the General Hospital in Pathanamthitta on Sunday morning.

S. Harikishore, District Collector; Rajani Pradeep, municipal chairperson; Gracy Ithaq, District Medical Officer, also spoke.

Volunteers of the Health Department would conduct a house-to-house campaign in the next two days to identify and administer the vaccine to those children who were not taken to the different polio booths on Sunday, official sources said.

How your taste buds could help tackle obesity

How your taste buds could help tackle obesity[A woman poking her tongue out]

In the journal Obesity, study coauthor Prof. Russell Keast, head of the Centre for Advanced Sensory Science at Deakin, and colleagues claim that training our taste buds to become more sensitive to the taste of fat could deter us from consuming fatty foods.

The study builds on previous research from the team, which found that individuals who are more sensitive to the taste of fat tend to eat less, and that individuals who are overweight and obese have an impaired taste response to fat, leading to excess fat intake.

"It is becoming clear that our ability to taste fat is a factor in the development of obesity," says Prof. Keast. "The results of this recent study, along with previous work, point to increasing fat taste sensitivity in those who are insensitive as a target for obesity treatment and prevention."

In this latest study, the team randomized 53 overweight or obese participants to one of two diets for 6 weeks: a low-fat diet (with less than 25% of total daily calories from fat) or a portion-controlled diet (with 33% of total daily calories from fat, designed to lower energy intake by 25%).

Before and after each diet, the researchers measured participants' fat taste thresholds, perception of fat levels in food samples, and their preference for regular-fat and low-fat foods. They also recorded subjects' weight, height and hip measurements.

Both diets increased fat taste sensitivityWeight loss was comparable for both groups, with subjects on the low-fat diet losing 2.9% of their body weight and participants on the portion-controlled diet losing 2.7% of their body weight.

Participants in both diet groups showed a significant reduction in fat taste thresholds - representing an increase in fat taste sensitivity - with subjects on the low-fat diet seeing the largest reductions.

However, only participants on the low-fat diet experienced an increase in the ability to perceive different fat concentrations.

These results, the team says, suggest that diet could be used to increase taste buds' sensitivity to the taste of fat - a tool that could be used to combat overweight and obesity.Study coauthor Dr. Lisa Newman, of the Centre for Advanced Sensory Science at Deakin, adds:

"This could then lead to people being less inclined to fatty foods, which in turn could impact on not only reducing weight in people already overweight or obese, but also in preventing weight gain in the first instance."

The researchers note that, while participants kept a food diary during the 6-week study period, these may not be an accurate reflection of dietary adherence, which could be seen as a limitation.

"However, the significant reduction in weight, BMI [body mass index], and waist-hip ratio, along with dietary data suggest that participants adhered to their allocated diet," they add.

Furthermore, they point out that, to date, changes in fat taste sensitivity have not been reported independent of weight loss. "Therefore, future research should focus on studies that modulate fat intake while maintaining weight of participants," they write.

In 2014, a study reported by Medical News Today identified stress hormone receptors in taste buds that researchers said could explain why people engage in emotional eating.

Low sunlight and Vitamin D leads to higher risk of leukemia

Low sunlight and Vitamin D leads to higher risk of leukemia

People residing at higher latitudes, with lower sunlight or ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure and greater prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, are at least two times at greater risk of developing leukemia than equatorial populations.

These results suggest that much of the burden of leukemia worldwide is due to the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency we are experiencing in winter in populations distant from the equator. According to the American Cancer Society, 54,270 cases and 24,450 deaths from leukemia occur in the United States alone each year.

There is no known way to prevent most types of leukemia, though some types may be prevented by avoiding high doses of ionizing radiation, exposure to the chemical benzene, smoking and certain types of chemotherapy.

Leukemia rates were highest in countries relatively closer to the poles, such as Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Ireland, Canada and the United States. They were lowest in countries closer to the equator, such as Bolivia, Samoa, Madagascar and Nigeria. The study has been published on the online issue of PLOS One.

Medical Marijuana May Treat Migraines

Marijuana can be used to effectively treat people suffering from migraine headaches, new research has found.

In the study, patients diagnosed with migraine headaches saw a significant drop in their frequency when treated with medical marijuana.

The study, published in the journal Pharmacotherapy, examined patients diagnosed with migraines and treated with medical marijuana between 2010-2014.

It found the frequency of migraines dropped from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month, a number considered statistically and clinically significant.

Of the 121 patients studied, 103 reported a decrease in monthly migraines while 15 reported the same number and three saw an increase in migraines.

"There was a substantial improvement for patients in their ability to function and feel better," said the study's senior author Laura Borgelt from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in the US.

"Like any drug, marijuana has potential benefits and potential risks. It is important for people to be aware that using medical marijuana can also have adverse effects," Ms Borgelt cautioned.

Ms Borgelt said cannabinoid receptors can be found throughout the body, including the brain, connective tissues and immune system. And they appear to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Cannabinoids are a group of active compounds found in marijuana.

These cannabinoids also seem to affect critical neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.

"We believe serotonin plays a role in migraine headaches, but we are still working to discover the exact role of cannabinoids in this condition," Ms Borgelt said.

The study is one of the first to reveal a drop in migraine frequency due to medical marijuana.

Ms Borgelt said the results were quite remarkable but stressed the need for more controlled studies in the future.

Eating greens may help prevent blindness

Eating greens may help prevent blindness

A diet high in green leafy vegetables may lower the risk of the most common type of glaucoma which can gradually lead to loss of vision, a new study has claimed.

In the study, greater intake of dietary nitrate and green leafy vegetables was associated with a 20 to 30% lower risk of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), researchers said. Elevated intraocular pressure and impaired autoregulation of optic nerve blood flow are implicated in POAG - optic nerve damage from multiple possible causes that is chronic and progresses over time.

This manifests as a gradual loss of the visual field, starting with a loss of peripheral vision, but eventually the entire vision may be lost if not treated. Researchers from Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston evaluated the association between dietary nitrate intake, derived mainly from green leafy vegetables, and POAG.Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston evaluated the association between dietary nitrate intake, derived mainly from green leafy vegetables, and POAG.

The researchers followed up participants biennially in the prospective cohorts of the Nurses' Health Study (63,893 women; 1984-2012) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (41,094 men; 1986-2012). Eligible participants were 40 years or older, were free of POAG, and reported eye examinations. Information on diet was updated with questionnaires.

This manifests as a gradual loss of the visual field, starting with a loss of peripheral vision, but eventually the entire vision may be lost if not treated. Researchers from Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston evaluated the association between dietary nitrate intake, derived mainly from green leafy vegetables, and POAG.Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston evaluated the association between dietary nitrate intake, derived mainly from green leafy vegetables, and POAG.

The researchers followed up participants biennially in the prospective cohorts of the Nurses' Health Study (63,893 women; 1984-2012) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (41,094 men; 1986-2012). Eligible participants were 40 years or older, were free of POAG, and reported eye examinations. Information on diet was updated with questionnaires.

This doctor helped put India on the medical tourism map

This doctor helped put India on the medical tourism map

Credit: Shutterstock

When Dr. Rajeev Rane, an avid traveller and doctor, was given the opportunity to go abroad and work, he declined, on several occasions, choosing to stay and serve in his homeland. Rajeev and his wife, a gynecologist, started their medical practice in Gujarat’s Bardoli district in 1983. The village they worked in had a very little in the name of health centres and medical facilities; Rajeev opened a hospital there in 1991.

Almost a decade later, the doctor witnessed an influx of medical tourists – NRIs and foreign nationals of Indian origin, from across the globe. He noticed the various hassles medical tourists had to undergo, and decided to build a platform to facilitate the easing of these inconveniences. However, the Internet was at an early stage in the country and the idea didn’t catch on.

Meanwhile, his son Anurav Rane, who had completed his engineering and MBA degrees, was building his own medical platform. Sadly, it failed to gain traction. Some years later, the father and son duo came together and re-launched the medical tourism platform PlanMyMedicalTrip, hoping to fulfil their dream. This time, the idea worked.

Launched in 2012, PlanMyMedicalTrip is a Pune-based solutions provider for anyone looking for affordable medical services and necessary infrastructure at hospitals that best address their concern. The platform leverages over 1,500 tie-ups with reputed hospitals and doctors in India and Turkey to provide services to international patients.

“The establishment of the platform was to ensure that anyone who could use the Internet could avail the best/ideal medical services and facilities. The platform not only guarantees medical services at an affordable price, it also handholds the patient and the caregiver through the tedious process of shifting to a new city for treatment. It proactively helps them with arrangements like procuring medical visas, hotel bookings, transfers and air ambulances. Our many medical packages also cover dental procedures, cosmetic and dermatological surgeries, organ transplants, cancer treatments, knee replacement, IVF, bypass surgery, weight-loss, anti-ageing and a host of other treatments,” says Dr. Rajeev, 60, Co-founder and COO, PlanMyMedicalTrip.

He adds that their platform is unique as, unlike its competitors, it allows users to compare treatment costs across different city hospitals, so they can make a prudent choice. The platform has successfully treated over 3,000 patients since it launched in 2007 under the brand name Best Medical Centers. Its catalysts, who refer patients to the platform, are spread across the US, the UK, Africa and the Middle East in addition to other countries.

Also read: How medical startups became the biggest thing in 2014

The platform follows a commission-based business model and charges a referral fee from hospitals. It doesn’t charge the patients any fees.

Investment and growth

The platform has so far spent close to Rs 80 lakhs on the business. A majority of this investment was spent in creating a digital presence, and expanding affiliations across India and building a strong team.

In almost four years, the platform claims to have 15,000 – 20,000 hits on a monthly basis. These generate around 70 inquiries each day. “We have over 1,000 treatment deals live on the website. These deals have been provided to us from our more than 1,500 affiliations – both doctors and hospitals,” says Rajeev.

Besides, it claims to generate around 50 to 100 queries offline on a daily basis

The platform, which was bootstrapped till very recently, got its first round of funding of Rs 1.25 crore this year. It is present in most major cities throughout India and has recently started operations in Turkey.

It claims to have a turnover of Rs 6 crore for the fiscal year 2015-2016.

Initial and following challenges

However, the main challenge has been bringing doctors onboard and convincing them about the idea.

“One of the most challenging of all was to hire a technical team that understands our business and builds us a platform most suitable for our users, while at the same time keeping the costs to a minimum,” says Rajeev.

The current challenges have manifested in the form of high costs of marketing and creating awareness in various regions across the globe.

“Until we raise another round, we would be focusing on keeping the costs low by capitalising on our existing resource pool and taking help from our government, which is also keen on projecting India as a medical tourism hub,” says the doctor.

Market size and competition

Currently, the Indian medical tourism industry is valued at a little over $3 billion, with tourist arrivals estimated at 230,000 annually.

According to Punjab Haryana Delhi (PHD) Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it is expected to reach $6 billion by 2018, with the number of people arriving in the country for medical treatment set to double over the next four years.

In this particular segment, Mumbai-based TransEarth, FlyforSurgery, Singapore-based DocDoc, and Germany-based Medigo and WhatClinic are some of the known platforms that offer medical services in India.

15 Ahmedabad Patients Complain Of Partial Sight Loss After Procedure


15 Ahmedabad Patients Complain Of Partial Sight Loss After Procedure

Fifteen patients, who were undergoing treatment for different eye ailments at the civic body-run C H Nagri Eye Hospital here, today complained of partial loss of vision after they were given injection yesterday.

City Mayor Gautam Shah, along with other leaders, rushed to the hospital, located near Ashram Road, and took stock of the situation.

State Health Minister Nitin Patel ordered an inquiry into the matter and sent a team of expert doctors to find out the exact cause of problem and also to treat the patients.

"I have learned that around 15 patients received infection after taking a particular injection yesterday and came to hospital today morning with swollen eyes. I have ordered an inquiry into the matter. Luckily, no one has lost their vision so far," Patel said.

"A team of doctors has been sent to the hospital for treatment of these patients. We have also collected samples of that injection and sent it for laboratory tests to find if they were having any contamination," said Patel.

After meeting the patients at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-run (AMC), Mayor claimed that no one has lost their vision.

"They complained partial loss of vision due to swelling around their eyes. They had been given injections at the hospital yesterday, but came this morning with the complaint," Shah added.

A team of expert doctors is now trying to reduce the swelling through medicines. Their treatment will continue till tomorrow.

"Many patients are also showing signs of improvement after taking medicines," Shah claimed.

According to Municipal Commissioner D Thara, the retinas of these patients have not got damaged.

"This is too early to say that these patients have lost their eyesight. A particular injection caused inflation on the outer part of their eyes only. Expert doctors did sonography and found that retina is not infected," said Thara.

"If this was a case of negligence by doctors, then hundreds others might have complained the same. But, since it affected only these 15 patients, it is possible that the injection given to them was responsible. We have sent the samples for laboratory test to find if they are contaminated," said Thara.

Recently, seven patients had lost their vision in Rajkot city following complications after cataract operation

Obese? Cut down on sitting time to curb heart disease risk

Asthma, sleep apnea may weaken cornea

people with asthma, sleep apnea or down syndrome are at higher risk of developing an eye condition that causes serious progressive nearsightedness at an young age, a new study has found. The findings, made through a study of the condition called keratoconus, could help more people protect their vision if treated on time. Keratoconus makes the cornea weak, which leads it to become cone-shaped over time.

The study found that females, AsianAmericans and people with diabetes appear to have a lower risk of keratoconus. The researchers looked at data from health insurance claims -half of them from more than 16,000 people with confirmed keratoconus and half from an equal number of people with similar characteristics but no keratoconus. People with Down syndrome had six times higher chance of developing the disease than others.

Obese? Cut down on sitting time to curb heart disease risk


 Obese? Cut down on sitting time to curb heart disease risk

If you are suffering from obesity, reducing the time spent on watching television or playing computer games may be as important as doing exercise to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart diseases, suggests new research.

Sedentary behaviour is associated with poor cardiovascular health and diabetes in adults with severe obesity, independent of how much exercise they perform, the study said.

According to the researchers, the findings could be used to design and test programmes for adults with severe obesity that emphasise reducing time spent sitting, rather than immediately working toward increased moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity or exercise, such as brisk walking.

"Adults with severe obesity often have difficultly following national guidelines to participate in at least 30 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity for health benefits," said lead author Wendy King, associate professor at University of Pittsburgh in the US.

"Our findings suggest that replacing sedentary behaviour, like watching television or sitting at the computer, with low-intensity physical activities, such as light housework or going for a casual stroll, may improve cardio-metabolic health in this population," King added.

For the study, the researcher followed 927 patients participating in a prospective study of patients undergoing weight-loss surgery at one of 10 different hospitals across the US.

For every hour per day participants spent in sedentary bouts of at least 10 minutes, their odds of having diabetes increased by 15 percent, metabolic syndrome by 12 percent and elevated blood pressure by 14 percent.

"These findings indicate the importance of investigating sedentary behaviour as a distinct health risk behaviour, not simply lack of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, among adults with severe obesity," King pointed out.

The study was published online in the journal Preventive Medicine.