Thursday, February 26, 2015

Donie's Ireland daily news BLOG

Estimated cost of universal health insurance will be known by April

says Minister Leo Varadkar


Sinn Féin points to WHO warning that competition between insurers does not cut costs

Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin: “there is no evidence of any country in which a competitive insurance system has kept costs
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar expects to have an estimate of the cost of universal health insurance (UHI) in April.
He said the Department of Health was working with the ESRI and the Health Insurance Authority on a major costing exercise to establish costings for the Government’s plan to roll out universal health insurance.
The analysis will look at “alternative systems of financing” and will estimate the cost of insurance for individuals, households, employers and the exchequer.
“I expect to have the initial results from this exercise in April, following which I will revert to the Government with a roadmap on the next steps to UHI,” the Minister told Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
Mr Ó Caoláin had pointed to the report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which raised concerns about the Government’s plans for insurance for all and highlighted examples across Europe where insurer competition proved ineffective in improving efficiency and controlling costs.
No magic prescription
Mr Varadkar said his department had provided information and observations on an early draft of the report. “The work of the WHO and others points to the fact that there is no magic prescription for all countries when it comes to health service reform,” he added.
But Mr Ó Caoláin said the WHO confirmed that “there is no evidence of any country in which a competitive insurance system has kept costs under control”.
Mr Varadkar said Ireland’s health system was the best example of keeping costs down. “We spend €1.5 billion less than we did seven years ago and more patients are seen.”

Cystic fibrosis discovery may lead to new treatment strategy and help patients breathe easier


A team led by UC San Francisco professor of medicine John Fahy, MD, has discovered why mucus in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis (CF) is thick, sticky and difficult to cough up, leaving these patients more vulnerable to lung infection.

Fahy and his team found that in CF – contrary to previous belief – inflammation causes new molecular bonds to form within mucus, transforming it from a liquid to an elastic sludge.
The scientists also made headway in the lab in exploring a potential new therapeutic approach to dissolve those bonds and return the mucus to a liquid that is easier for the lungs to clear.
CF is a lifelong inherited disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. There is no cure. About 30,000 children and adults in the United States have CF.
Fahy said that the research, a collaborative effort between UCSF, University College Dublin (UCD), in Ireland, and the Cleveland Clinic (CC), in Ohio, has implications for other lung conditions characterized by thickened mucus, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and asthma.
The work was reported in the February 25 issue of Science Translational Medicine.
Polymers – naturally-occurring molecules in mucus that form long chains – are the key to the discovery.
Until now, scientists had thought that CF mucus is thicker than healthy mucus because it has a greater concentration of DNA polymers. To test that idea, Fahy and his group exposed mucus samples taken from CF patients to two current CF medications: Pulmozyme, a drug that breaks up DNA polymers, and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which targets disulfide bonds between mucin polymers. Mucin is a protein that is the major constituent of mucus.
“We thought Pulmozyme would be more effective than NAC in liquefying the mucus, because CF sputum contains lots of DNA,” said Fahy. “But to our surprise, NAC worked much better.”
Using confocal microscopy, the scientists learned why: CF mucus consists of a dense core of mucin with a layer of DNA wrapped around it, like a thin blanket draped over a solid pillow. Thus, while Pulmozyme makes mucus less stiff by eliminating DNA, NAC succeeds in liquefying it by breaking up the mucin.
Fahy and his team then investigated why mucin in CF is so compacted. They found that mucin polymers become linked together crosswise by newly-forged disulfide bonds. Fahy likened the polymers to logs floating down a river. “The logs can float down the river as long as they are floating independently,” he said. “But if you bolt them together side to side, they will clog the river.”

Homosexuality causes cancer, says an Irish anti-gay marriage group


An Irish family campaigning group claim that same-sex couples are more likely to get cancer.

An Irish family campaigning group has launched a series of extraordinary attacks against same-sex couples, including claims that same-sex couples die younger, are more prone to cancer, and are more likely to abuse and injure children,
The Alliance for the Defence of the Family and Marriage (ADFAM), an initiative based in Ireland which claims to “promote and defend the traditional family”, have been distributing the leaflets to spread their beliefs this week. Witnesses say they have been handed out outside churches and rugby matches among other venues. A journalist for the Irish website Her was handed one of the pamphlets outside a Divine Mercy event in Dublin. It comes in the run-up to the Irish Republic’s referendum in on same-sex marriage due to take place on May 22.
ADFAM have defended the pamphlet, which is titled ‘Why Should I Vote Against Same-Sex Marriage?’ and have listed reasons why readers should vote against the marriage equality referendum.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Séamas de Barra a member of the alliance said the claims are backed up by research undertaken in Denmark, where civil partnerships were legalised in 1989.
The group also defends its claim that same-sex marriage “is a confidence trick” which “tends to be very short-lived, and promiscuous” and that “frequently, same-sex pairs don’t even live together.”
In the past the group has stated that voting for same-sex marriage “is like voting for Islamic State-style sharia law. It is giving in to a very small minority. In this case, the very small minority will dictate what marriage means. Persecution of Christians surely will follow, and it will become a crime to teach and preach Christian morality.”
Tiernan Brady, policy director at the Irish Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), fiercely condemns the pamphlet’s content. “Most importantly, it’s not true,” he says. “It’s disrespectful, and an attack on the humanity of certain citizens of Ireland.
“Unfortunately there are those who will take us back to a time of intolerance. ADFAM don’t seem to care that the referendum is a vote about real people and real people’s rights. Lesbian and gay people will read that pamphlet, and the intent can be nothing other than to do as much damage to people. Their motivation is dark, dangerous and disgraceful. We have to remain positive.”
While Brady says that pamphlets like these are “poisonous” and believes they will increase in the run up to the referendum, he also thinks that the anti-gay sentiments expressed are “out of tune” with Irish popular opinion. Currently, the polls are showing that 77% are in favour of same-sex marriage and all the political parties support it.
However, Brady added that is is “desperately worrying” that there has been no official condemnation from a number of religious organisations and believes that if the Irish church were to openly condemn the pamphlets it would be a powerful move. “The polls are positive, but that doesn’t mean we should become complacent,” Brady added.
“Ireland has been a phenomenal success story in recent years, from the decriminalisation of same-sex sexual activity in 1993, to a referendum on equal marriage in just over 20 years. But this leaflet is an attempt to turn the clock back to a time when gays and lesbians lived in the shadows.”
Same-sex couples have been able to enter into a civil partnership in the Republic of Ireland since January 2011, but Ireland does not permit same-sex civil marriage. Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced last Thursday that his party Fine Gael, will support the referendum, declaring that Ireland is a “compassionate and tolerant nation”. Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail both announced last month they too will support the referendum.
But the Catholic church in Ireland is campaigning against the introduction of same-sex marriage. Last December, Ireland’s Catholic bishops launched a 15-page pamphlet setting out its position, stating it would be “a grave injustice” if gay and lesbian couples were granted equality in marriage.

People in Connacht and Ulster are least likely to be smokers


People in Connacht and Ulster are the least likely to light up, but Dubliners smoke the most in the country, according to a new report.

The smoking rate in the west and north west is 17%, compared to 21.6% in Dublin and 19.8% for Leinster as a whole.
Munster is in the middle ground with a rate of 18.9%, less than the national figure showing 19.5% of people over the age of 15 years who smoke.
The HSE report which tracks smoking trends, and found 70,000 quit last year, confirms that 39% of smokers are in the lowest socio-economic groups, including the semi-skilled, unskilled and unemployed.
A nationally representative survey of 1,000 people is undertaken by Ipsos MRBI for the HSE every month to obtain data on smoking prevalence. It found as follows:- 
1 A higher percentage of men, 21.6%, reported being smokers than women – 17.6%.
2  Smoking rates were highest among young adults aged 18-34 years, reaching 27.3% in the 25-34 year old age group.
3 Prevalence was lowest among the 15-17 age group at 7.9%.
4 Around 36% of all smokers light up 11-20 cigarettes per day. Some 59.2% describe themselves as occasional to light smokers at 10 or less cigarettes per day.
But 4.8% are heavy smokers. They smoke more than 21 cigarettes a day.
On average smokers have 12.71 cigarettes a day. Meanwhile, overall smoking prevalence has declined from 28.28% in June 2003 to 19.53% in December 2014.
Since the tracker began, a higher proportion of men have smoked every year.
Male and female smoking has declined to 21.55% and 17.59% respectively.
Commenting on the report, the Irish Cancer Society warned that a special, targeted effort needs to be made in disadvantaged communities so that the health divide between rich and poor does not widen.
“That drop in the smoking rate tells us that everything we’ve done to reduce the number of smokers is working,” said spokeswoman Kathleen O’Meara.
“However, we know that people from poorer communities are more likely to smoke and that smoking accounts for half the gap in life expectancy between a rich person and a poor person. Smoking has been identified as the single biggest cause of inequality in death rates.
“Therefore, when we see that the smoking rate is still much higher in disadvantaged areas, it indicates to us that more needs to be done to help people quit? For instance, the smoking rate amongst Traveller women and men was 52.5% in 2010 and for homeless people was 90% in 2013.
“Clearly, exceptional efforts need to be made to achieve the Governments ambitious goal of a 5% smoking rate by 2025, particularly in disadvantaged or marginalised communities.”
She pointed out that early findings from the Irish Cancer Society’s ‘We Can Quit’ pilot programme indicate that with help available in local communities, and designed to meet their particular needs, people have more success in giving up smoking.
‘We Can Quit’ is an initiative of the ICS in partnership with the Northside Partnership, the Blanchardstown Area Partnership, the HSE and the National Women’s Council of Ireland.
“The service offers women a supportive environment in which to overcome the barriers to quitting smoking. The free 12-week programme is group based so that women can join forces with other women as they quit together. Such initiatives hit tobacco where prevalence rates are stubbornly high.

Mammal’s eyelashes are perfectly trimmed to protect eyes without obscuring vision


Mammals are pretty amazing. And now it turns out their eyelashes are more than just a nice addition.

Research has shown that mammalian eyelashes are the best length to protect against dust without hindering their sight.
Scientists who studied 22 species ranging from hedgehogs to giraffes found that in every case lash length was roughly a third of the width of the eye, just the right length to shield the eye without blocking out too much light.
The correct length of eyelashes reduced both evaporation rates – preventing dry eyes – and dust deposition by 50% compared with those that were too long or too short.
Dr David Hu, who led the experiment, concluded in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface that: Our study demonstrates that eyelashes divert airflows, acting as a passive dust controlling system for the eyes.
“They reduce evaporation and particle deposition up to 50%, indicating the evolution of eyelashes may have played a role in reducing the frequency of endogenous blinks, which replenish and clean the tear film.”
Lashes are found in nearly all mammals, yet their function is not fully understood.
One theory is that they are dust catchers designed to protect the eye from falling particles and another is that they act as whisker-like sensors, triggering a protective blinking response when they are stimulated.
In humans, it has been said that their main function is to draw attention to the eyes and assist communication and expression.
Lessons learned from the research could lead to “eyelash-inspired” protection for optical sensors, the researchers added.     

No comments:

Post a Comment