Below is the final wrap for this year of health and medical reading at The Conversation. Thanks to Froncesca Jackson-Webb and Reema Rattan for compiling these wraps for Croakey readers.
By Dr Julie Leask, National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance, a conjoint Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney.
Whenever stories about vaccination hit the headlines, just how deeply we value vaccines becomes strikingly clear. Whether it’s the celebration of new vaccines, the outrage at disease outbreaks, or the anger at those who don’t vaccinate, it’s clear that most Australians want vaccine programs to succeed.
Sometimes it only takes one or two stories of disease affliction, powerfully conveyed to spur people into action. This was most strikingly illustrated with the whooping cough epidemic, which continued into its third year and tragically has killed seven infants since 2008.
The causes for this epidemic are complex and the solutions multifactorial but the motivation to act is strong.
By John Svigos, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist & Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide
We’re fortunate to live in a society where robust evidence forms the basis of the information health-care professionals provide to patients – and home birth should be no exception.
But the evidence about the risks of home births and the relative safety of hospital-based births is too often ignored by home birth advocates.
Women need clear and accurate information about the risks of different birthing environments. As an obstetrician of 30 years, I have these discussions with pregnant women and their partners every week. And many are surprised to learn that giving birth at home is far more risky for their baby than a planned hospital birth.
By Ross MacKenzie, Lecturer in Health Studies at Macquarie University
Reports that Nicola Roxon plans to encourage state governments to consider legal action to recover around A$31 billion in smoking-related health-care costs from the tobacco industry highlight the incoming attorney-general’s commendable commitment to reducing the impact of smoking-related illness and mortality.
Such litigation is a potentially powerful way of countering the tobacco industry, but has been largely limited to the United States to date. As part of preliminary work on the proposal, Roxon has brought Matthew Myers, president of the leading US tobacco control organisation, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, to Australia to discuss litigation with state officials.
Junk food advertising to kids – what’s next for regulation?
By Boyd Swinburn, Professor of Population Health at Deakin University
There’s no evidence that industry self-regulation works to restrict junk food advertising to children. That’s the unsurprising finding of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) long-awaited report, released last week.
The report concludes that the industry has failed to address community concerns about the protection and promotion of children’s health. Then, in an astounding handball, it suggests the Australian National Preventative Health Agency take responsibility for the issue.
By Rachael Dunlop, Researcher and Communications Officer at Heart Research Institute
If you typed “pins and needles” into Google, what kind of results would you expect to find? According to a recent study from Bupa Health, the search engine could diagnose you with anything from a completely reversible vitamin B12 deficiency, to sciatica, or worse, multiple sclerosis.
By Ken Harvey, Adjunct Senior Lecturer of Public Health at La Trobe University
The government has just announced its response to a series of reviews of the Therapeutic Goods Administration over the past 18 months. The announcement was brought forward after a summary of the reforms was accidentally emailed to about a dozen people yesterday.
Most recommendations of the TGA Transparency Review will be implemented. These include the establishment of an Australian therapeutic goods advisory council for oversight of the implementation, ongoing monitoring, and evaluation of review recommendations over the next four years. A dedicated communications unit will also be created within the TGA to inform and educate the public.
By John Dwyer, Emeritus Professor at University of New South Wales
It’s difficult enough to counter the massive amount of misleading information provided to consumers through the media and online.
But the task becomes much harder when tertiary institutes give an undeserved imprimatur to pseudo disciplines by offering them as courses. Central Queensland University (CQU) is the latest to do so, announcing it will offer a Bachelor of Science degree (Chiropractic) from 2012.
I’m one of thirty-four doctors, scientists and clinical academics who, in an attempt to protect health-care consumers from the dangers associated with unscientific clinical practices, have today written to the science deans at CQU urging them, as fellow academics, to reconsider this decision.
Changes needed to close the gap for Indigenous Australians with disabilities
By John Gilroy, Lecturer/researcher in Indigenous Health at University of Sydney
Alongside high rates of incarceration, unemployment, homelessness and some of the poorest health outcomes in Australia, Indigenous people’s access and use of disability services is under-representative of the total Aboriginal population.
The high prevalence of disability in the Aboriginal population results from poor social health status and disadvantage that are a legacy of European colonisation and dispossession. Many Aboriginal communities experience inter-generational depression and trauma as a direct consequence of cultural dispossession, racism and social segregation.