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TAP Medical Care Network not ‘subpar’ says Health Minister

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 30, 2022 – Jamell Robinson, TCI Health Minister is urging residents not to be deterred by their perception of the country to which they are sent for medical care through the Treatment Abroad Program (TAP). Robinson explained that the TAP works in a specific way, and the goal is to deliver medical services which improves lives.

A person must be referred for overseas care by a local doctor, private or public. Once they are referred to a facility overseas, a Joint Referral Committee comprising members of the TCI Hospital and the National Health Insurance Board reviews the referral.  With the overseas trip confirmed, there is communication within the regional network of doctors and hospitals to see if the case can be accommodated. If it can’t be accommodated in the Caribbean that case then goes outside the region to Columbia, any failure there results in TCI employing the extended network which includes the United States.

“Generally speaking the NHIB provides great flexibility on the location within the primary network.” He said, “So if they select the Dominican Republic and would prefer to go to Jamaica, no big deal they’ll send you to Jamaica.”

Robinson explained that while the TAP was very flexible for contributors who wanted to go to a specific place, he reminded that the Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Board would not send patients to subpar institutions anywhere in the world.

“Remember we are not sending you to a country. We’re sending you to a specific facility.  Unfortunately, when we get into the ‘choice thing’ that we do accommodate, most times, it isn’t because of the healthcare that is provided at the specific facility. It’s usually because of the view of a person has of that country. If [the hospital] is in the Amazon Rainforest and it has the healthcare you need, if it was a part of the network that’s just the best location.”

Robinson said people in the TCI usually want to use the advanced network especially in the United States but he explained that the process to choose all the hospitals was extremely thorough and NHIP contributors would always get the best care despite the cost.

“With the way facilities are reviewed and graded so to speak within the network you have at least three options for pretty much every particular procedure that can be done within the network. So if it’s heart surgery then a particular institution would be the number one choice. That doesn’t mean other institutions can’t do that same procedure.”

Currently the NHIB covers all costs for international procedures including airfare for the patient; sometimes there is financial support to an accompanying loved one with the patient and funds are made available to cover partial costs of accommodations.

“At no point will anyone not have access to the healthcare that they need and that’s a very important thing to know,” Minister Robinson maintained.

Health

HIV/AIDS no longer a death sentence; Drugs help and Proactivity best for sexually active Men

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

November 29, 2022 – Back in 2020 when Covid-19 began to shut down businesses and terror at the unknown virus was high, evidenced in supermarket rows over toilet paper and lockdowns I can remember asking my mother whether she had experienced anything of this scale before.  Her answer? ‘HIV/AIDS.’ Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system.  If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

“It was terrible, people were just dropping dead, nobody knew what they had or what to do.” she said.

The sexually transmitted disease HIV first started appearing in 1981.  It spread rapidly with deadly, heartbreaking consequences.

That was forty one years ago.  Now, World AIDS day is celebrated each year on December 1st and while HIV/AIDS is considered a treatable and preventable disease, with verifiable reports that some people have even been cured of ‘terminal illness’, millions of people were consumed by the illness before scientists reached the breakthroughs which now allow patients to live productive lives.

Many of those lost to the HIV/AIDS were men and hundreds of thousands still contract the virus each year.

So how can you prevent contracting HIV/AIDS?  The Centres for Disease Control says

  • Abstain from sex
  • If you are sexually active limit your partners
  • Use physical protection (condoms) during sex
  • Don’t share needles

If you have had unprotected sex and think you may be HIV positive or you just want to be protected, you can take HIV prevention medicines such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).  You must start PEP within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.

For those with a confirmed HIV diagnosis, the FDA says treatment is available.

“Treatment with HIV medicines is called antiretroviral therapy (ART).   ART is recommended for everyone with HIV.  It reduces a person’s viral load to an undetectable level.  Maintaining an undetectable viral load helps a person with HIV live a longer, healthier life.  People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex.”

Men may shy away from having themselves examined by a doctor, but catching and treating HIV before it becomes AIDS is crucial and greatly lengthens one’s life expectancy.

If you have the virus there are ways to manage it and to keep your loved ones and sexual partners safe.

You can have a relatively normal life.  There is still hope.

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Monkey Pox name to be phased out recommends WHO

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

November 29, 2022 – It’s a 52-year-old name which has run its course and in a year will be completely phased out, making way for its new, more politically correct and patient sensitive title: MPox.  The World Health Organization briefed the world of the shift in a media statement on Monday November 29; the renaming process described as “accelerated.”

“When the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatizing language online, in other settings and in some communities was observed and reported to WHO.  In several meetings, public and private, a number of individuals and countries raised concerns and asked WHO to propose a way forward to change the name.”

The World Health Organization has as part of its global health remit, to name or rename illnesses in consultation with its member states; some 45 countries weighed in on this particular change which factored in stigmatization and versatility.

“Various advisory bodies were heard during the consultation process, including experts from the medical and scientific and classification and statistics advisory committees which constituted of representatives from government authorities of 45 different countries.

The issue of the use of the new name in different languages was extensively discussed.  The preferred term mpox can be used in other languages.  If additional naming issues arise, these will be addressed via the same mechanism. Translations are usually discussed in formal collaboration with relevant government authorities and the related scientific societies.”

Although monkeyPox symptoms disappear on their own in a matter of weeks, for some the symptoms have led to medical complications and death.  Immuno-compromised children are listed as particularly vulnerable, so are newborn babies.

“Complications from monkeypox include secondary skin infections, pneumonia, confusion, and eye problems. More recent complications include proctitis (sores and swelling inside the rectum that cause pain) and pain or difficulty when urinating.  In the past, between 1% to 10% of people with monkeypox have died.  It is important to note that death rates in different settings may differ due to a number of factors, such as access to health care.  These figures may be an overestimate because surveillance for monkeypox has generally been limited in the past,” informed the CDCs website.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Direcgtor-General, WHO in considering the advice from health experts specifically recommends:  “Adoption of the new synonym mpox in English for the disease; Mpox will become a preferred term, replacing monkeypox, after a transition period of one year.  This serves to mitigate the concerns raised by experts about confusion caused by a name change in the midst of a global outbreak.  It also gives time to complete the ICD update process and to update WHO publications;  The synonym mpox will be included in the ICD-10 online in the coming days.  It will be a part of the official 2023 release of ICD-11, which is the current global standard for health data, clinical documentation and statistical aggregation. The term “monkeypox” will remain a searchable term in ICD, to match historic information.”

As of November 28, there had been 81,188 cases of mpox recorded worldwide according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Most alarming; over 80,000 of the cases have been recorded in locations not historically known to have monkeypox.  Some 110 countries have now recorded mpox, a staggering 103 of them are newly added to the list of nations where the disease has been detected.

The biggest explosion of cases is recorded in the United States; 29,288 people were confirmed with the disease and 14 people have died as a result of it.

Regionally, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Aruba, Curacao, Barbados, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Bermuda and Guyana have confirmed mpox on their shores.

In the coming days, the new mpox name will be added to the International Classification of Diseases or ICD and will be used in communication from health bodies.  While the label: MonkeyPox will become a relic, it will continue to be used for at least another year.

“WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name,” it said in the statement posted at its website.

 

Photo credit:

Maurizio de Angelis/Science photo libraryMonkeypox virus, illustration. Monkeypox virus particles are composed of a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) genome surrounded by a protein coat and lipid envelope.

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Health

Worst COVID case count for China, Supply Chain interrupted and protests erupt over ZERO COVID strategy

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By Dana Malcolm
Staff Writer

 

#China, November 25, 2022 – Mainland China is experiencing record levels of Covid-19 even as the government struggles to enforce some of the strictest Covid-19 protocols in the world.  Upwards of 31 thousand cases were recorded on Wednesday, the highest ever according to the National Health Commission of the PRC.  Mainland China does not include Hong Kong or Taiwan.

An inspection of China’s COVID infections from March 2021 straight to February 2022 would look like an almost completely flat line.  There were no major recorded spikes over the 12 month period and case counts hovered largely under 2000 cases per day.  It took the swift spreading omicron to break that streak sending cases as high as 29 thousand in April.  Now this winter outbreak shot past those numbers.

With less than 6,000 deaths the country has been one of the most successful in the world at keeping its citizens alive but many disagree with the strict and often long lasting lockdowns.

Several cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou have tightened COVID restrictions as cases surge.

Violent protests erupted last week in Guangzhou after the city was locked down over less than two thousand Covid-19 cases.  This week protests at an Iphone factory in Zhengzhou erupted once more this time over a pay dispute.

So far officials have not bowed to pressure to lighten the protocols and the economy is suffering, stocks fell steeply on Wednesday.

Supply chain issues have started to rear their heads once more as Apple is already warning that there will be delays in deliveries of their newest Iphone thanks to the Zhengzhou dispute.

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