This year will require everyone in the health sector to be adaptable and innovative as COVID becomes an endemic virus. It will also require a pivot back to all the non-COVID health issues which have been ignored to varying degrees over the past two years.
Mental health, especially for the young, remains an area where little progress has been made. The huge spending suggests it will require other than additional shekels and more of the same to solve.
It was fascinating to attend (virtually) the International Summit on Psychedelic Therapies for Mental Illness. The two-day summit had prominent speakers from Europe, UK and USA together with locals. The presentations and panel discussions were broad-ranging and included the real-life experience of patients and physicians with first-hand experience.
The FDA regards MDMA as a ‘breakthrough’ therapy for PTSD and trials on psilocybin for depression have been encouraging. Last year the Federal Government allocated $15 million for trials using psychedelics and some of these will commence soon. An application to have the scheduling changed from nine to eight was rejected by the TGA.
Whilst this disappointed some (including Mind Med who ran the summit), it was probably not a surprise that the TGA would not pre-empt the findings of trials yet to be completed. However, we tend to follow North America and somewhere in the foreseeable future, psychedelic therapy will become likely available here.
Humans are social beings. A 2018 American report found that “loneliness had the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.”
This month we have articles on a range of innovation topics including detection of pancreatic cancer, better insulin delivery, use of Broome nacre in orthopaedic surgery and use of transcranial magnetic stimulation for treating resistant depression. Also covered is familial hypercholesterolaemia, endomicroscopy, cognitive aids in anaesthetic crises and a re-examination of dairy intake in children.
Some things do not change. Humans are social beings. A 2018 American report found that “loneliness had the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.”
The impact on people who have lived without family contact the past two years is a hidden epidemic of which the consequences will continue to be felt when COVID itself is a memory. This is in addition to those who died alone and whose families were unable to say goodbye or, in some instances, identify the body.
While February is late for new year’s resolutions, let us resolve to make time with family and friends a priority in 2022.