Promoting active kids

Soccer-player School playground equipment impacts on the physical activity levels of our primary school kids, and we now know what gets them moving. For a start, providing more balls, skipping ropes, racquets and hula hoops and putting a teacher on yard duty is a recipe for higher activity levels. Bitumen with court/play markings; fixed play equipment such as slides, monkey bars and climbing frames; metal structures compared to wood; and grass surfaces were also associated with increased play. Australian physical activity recommendations are at least 60 minutes of activity every day (>2 hours each week at school). Boys are better at it than girls; 44% of the observed children at 23 Melbourne primary schools were engaged in sedentary behaviour.

Chronic self-help

You are going to hear more about this – chronic disease self management (CDSM) – where patients do more to help themselves and government facilitates it all. It’s about reducing unnecessary hospital admissions. One recent step is the launch of the Self Management website www.selfmanagement.health.wa.gov.au as part of the WA Chronic Disease Management Project funded under the federal Australian Better Health Initiative and managed by the Health Networks Branch.

Spending Spree

AmbulanceThe way the government is spending money you’d also think there was a state election coming up. The largesse includes $2.7m for the new Derby Collocated Emergency Services Facility, which will better equip the area to deal with cyclones, floods and fires; a $2.89m facility for Kununurra’s fire and emergency service volunteers; and Mandurah Community Health Centre’s dedicated Aboriginal health and wellbeing centre (Nidjalla Waangan Mia), part of the $3.4m Stage 2 redevelopment. Contracts worth $166m were also signed with John Holland Pty Ltd for the first stage of design and construction of the Albany Health Campus, due for completion in 2012.

Asian hepatitis neighbours

According to a report by Datamonitor based on interviews with and surveys of 180 hepatologists, infectious disease specialists, and gastroenterologists in China, Taiwan and South Korea, viral hepatitis has prevalence rates ranging from 4-13% for hepatitis B (HBV) and from 1-4% for hepatitis C (HCV). HCV genotype 1, which has the lowest treatment response, is also the most common subtype in these countries. Affordability often determines the choice of treatment, which means non-pegylated interferons for HCV and the inexpensive lamivudine as first line antiviral for HBV, while many patients go untreated. When it comes to HBV, the Asia-Pacific region is among the world’s worst affected areas with an estimated 5-20% of the population positive for HBV surface antigen (HBsAg). HCV infection varies, with an average seroprevalence of HCV antibodies of <2.5% in healthy adults. Viral hepatitis drug sales in China, Taiwan and South Korea totalled US$562m in 2008.

Big Mother watching

Medical webcams are all the rage. Mercy Hospital has launched Look@MyBaby, which puts a 24 hour eye on your newborn so you can watch in real time from anywhere in the world. Another group Church Resources has also launched ConnectCare – cameras in aged care facilities – recognised with an award by Federal Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy. Look@MyBaby costs $100 to register, and parents control who to hand the access password over to. This is a great resource for premature babies – less infection risk from visiting family, worried parents can keep watch outside visiting hours, and distant relatives get cheap access during long hospital stays. And someone will make a little cash on the side.

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