The Power of Stem Cells

The research area of stem cells in medicine is moving fast and there are endless possibilities of uses for stem cells in many different aspects of medical science.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are unspecialised and undifferentiated cells, meaning they’re not adapted to any particular function. Therefore, they have the potential to differentiate into any range of cell types in the organism.

This means that they are extremely useful and valuable in scientific research and in looking for future treatments, as the stem cells can be transplanted to different parts of the body to replace damaged cells.

Stem cells are already being used in various areas, such as in drug trials; before being tested on animals or humans, potential new drugs can be tested on cultures of stem cells. As well as that, stem cells grown on biodegradable mesh can produce new skin for burns patients, which is quicker than a skin graft.

They’re also being used to treat patients with leukaemia. Stem cells found in the bone marrow are transplanted into the leukaemia patients to generate new blood cells.

Stem cells can also be used to grow new cells in a laboratory to replace damaged tissues or organs.

Several weeks ago, I saw an article with the title ‘Scientists have discovered a new stem cell that could heal brain damage’. Called the “G2 quiescent stem cell” it’s one of several ‘sleeping’ stem cells in the brain. However, this particular stem cell is ‘showing a higher regeneration potential than others have [1].’ This newly discovered stem cell could help brains repair themselves from brain injury, or even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s. In Alzheimer’s disease, brain cells (neurons) are destroyed because of the accumulation of abnormal proteins. When these dormant stem cells are awake, they can start producing neurons, which could potentially be used as a treatment.

This is based on a study of the small fruit fly, which shares many DNA similarities with humans. [1]

Despite the good signs, scientists are still unsure on how to ‘wake up’ these dormant cells, meaning actual treatments are still a significant way off. However, progress is being made all the time.

Other medical conditions that may potentially be treated with embryonic stem cells include:

  • traumatic spinal cord injury
  • stroke
  • severe burns
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • heart disease
  • hearing loss
  • retinal disease

Stem cell research controversy

In recent years, there has been some controversy over how human embryonic stem cells are obtained. In order to obtain the stem cells, a human embryo must be destroyed. This induces ethical concerns for some people, as they believe that an embryo accounts for a human being and should not be destroyed in the name of scientific research.

Opponents of this argument believe that embryos are not yet human beings, and that the benefits of the research outweigh the issues surrounding the way that the stem cells are obtained.

[1] https://www.sciencealert.com/new-brain-stem-cell-could-fight-injury-or-disease

By Jenna Philpott

Humans: Same but Different

As individuals of the same species, we all have the same general features,
such as two arms, two legs, a head, and a torso. However, due to variation within a
species, ours being Homo sapiens, we are not identical copies of each other. Some
of these variations can cause beneficial, harmful or neutral characteristics.
Anatomical variations change the way that the human body forms, most being
relatively harmless to the person. Textbooks of anatomy usually describe the most
common form of structured found in the body, yet there are many examples of
variations from the textbook example that are frequently encountered.

During the Renaissance period in the 15th century, artists become increasingly
interested in the accurate representation of the human body. Famous artists, such as
Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci used dissection in order to portray the human
body accurately. Da Vinci excelled in the study of muscles and he produced many
remarkable and detailed diagrams showing actions and movement.
Textbooks of anatomy usually describe the most common form of structured
found in the body, yet there are many examples of variations from the textbook
example that are frequently encountered.

Examples of anatomical variations are the palmaris longus in the forearm
which is absent in about 14% of humans on one or both arms, and the plantaris in
the leg, which is absent is 6%. Another rare variation (1 in 7,000) is situs inversus,
which is a complete reversal of asymmetry in all the organs, usually with normal
physiology. For example, one part of this is dextrocardia, meaning that the heart is
on the right side of the torso, rather than the left. Human variations such as these
provide insight into developmental anatomy.

Double-jointedness, more accurately known as persistent generalised joint
hypermobility, occurs in about 5% of people. This means that the knees and elbows
can be extended beyond 180 degrees (hyperextended) and the hands and feet can
attain unusual positions. Hypermobile joints are not necessarily unstable, as
demonstrated by in performances of acrobats and gymnasts, but they are associated
with a tendency to have reoccurring dislocations of the patella or shoulder.
The human body is a complex machine, with different systems working in
harmony, with the points above being a few of the most interesting ones. Each
human body is different, but one of the same kind.

https://news.softpedia.com/news/The-10-Most-Common-Human-Mutations-57223.shtml

By Karis

Brexit and our NHS

We have all heard the word ‘Brexit’ many times. It is often associated with the economy, trading and businesses failing but have you ever thought about the impact it can have on OUR healthcare system?

For those not aware of what Brexit means let me give you a very brief explanation. It is the idea of leaving the EU (which we have been a part of since the 1990’s). A referendum was held in June 2016 in which 52% of the British population decided to leave the EU [1]. Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in March next year.

The main issue that may arise within the health and social care sector is staffing. Many of the staff and professionals currently working in the NHS come from other EU countries. The figure equates to roughly 130,000 staff of the 1.3 million working in the NHS. It is important to realise that even before we have left the EU the NHS has been struggling due to staff shortages [4].

The Royal College of Nursing has said that there has been a 92% drop in the number of registrations that they received from the EU (March 2017). This may be because people are uncertain about the security of a career in the UK in the future [2]. It is worrying to think what may happen AFTER we leave the EU. One of the reasons why providers recruit the NHS staff from outside the EU is because there are not enough resident workers to fill up the available vacancies. Article 50 only provides protection for those already working in the NHS and not for possible future employees [2]. However, in June 2018, the government did announce that they were ‘relaxing immigration rules’ so that more doctors/ nurses coming from outside the EU were still able to work in the UK [3]. Despite this reassurance, many of the NHS staff could decide to work in other countries. The question here is: If doctors go to work in other countries will that result in the doctors staying having to work extra hours (above the 48-hour limit)? Will that mean that pay will have to increase? And if so where will all the funding come from?

The next potential issue that may come with Brexit is the ability to access treatment in the UK and abroad. Currently, all EU citizens are allowed to have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Holders of this card are able to access the necessary medical health care during their stay in a European Economic Area (EEA). The cost of these treatments can also be reclaimed. Also, EU nationals who currently live in the UK (and vice versa) can access health care the same way all the nationals of that country can access it. If, after Brexit, this can no longer take place then pensioners of UK nationality may decide to come back to the UK and this can have its own negative impact on the system. [4]

Funding and finance. The UK government pays a fee of £350 million A WEEK for membership of the EU. When we leave, we will have billions of pounds to spend on other things such as the NHS. Well, that is what has been promised! The funding of the NHS is dependent on the British economy and the treasury doesn’t seem so satisfied with how Brexit will affect it. The HM Treasury has said: leaving the EU will cause ‘an immediate and profound economic shock creating instability and uncertainty’.

 If the government decides to protect the health service budget and NOT the social care budget this can still affect the NHS indirectly. This is because, in 2016, the lack of social care funding resulted in approximately 400,000 fewer people receiving the social care that they require.[4]. If the £350 million is still not enough where will the government get extra funding from? Will they need to increase tax or will we be required to pay for our healthcare?

Brexit could also have an impact on cancer research.  The EU and UK have worked well together for cancer research and the teamwork is very strong. Leaving the EU can impact the level of research carried out and affect the patients. Fewer patients will be able to access treatments and there may be delays in new trials beginning. Another point to add is that once the UK has left we will have less of an impact in medicine and clinical sciences.  Limited cooperation could result in the UK being deprived of the top researchers that the EU has to offer. [5]

It is clear that the majority of the scientists and healthcare staff are against Brexit. These people can see how Brexit will impact their field of work and society as a whole. As we have already voted to leave the EU only time will tell whether this was an advantageous or a damaging decision.

By Kashaf Imran

Bibliography:

https://www.vox.com/2016/6/25/12029962/why-did-britain-leave-the-eu [1]

http://ukandeu.ac.uk/the-impact-of-brexit-on-nhs-staff/ [2]

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-44703552 [3]

https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/articles/brexit-and-nhs [4]

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(16)30025-0/fulltext [5]

Gaming Disorder – Are Video Games Playing You?

Hey guys, it’s Joerel again and today I’m going to be talking – more like arguing actually – about the whole “gaming disorder” which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially recognised as a disorder around June of this year. This is going to be a doozy. In any case, let’s go for it.

So, you might be wondering, why did the World Health Organisation consider this as a disorder? Well, on their website, they see gaming disorder as (and I quote straight off the page) “a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”[1] Okay, that does not sound so bad, does it? I personally believe that whatever the addiction is, whether it be something as hardcore as drugs and alcoholism or smoking, it should be taken seriously and should be treated as much as possible to return them back into a generally better state than they were before. Gaming can be addictive, and while gaming is quite relaxing and entertaining, too much of anything can kill. Everything should be kept at a reasonable limit (depending on what it is of course – drugs do not count for this), but not limiting the enjoyment one gets from such said pleasure. I know I like to play games on my laptop and on my Nintendo DS, but I know when I had too much. Overall, well played for keeping up with technology.

But, my argument is what they say next: “For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”[1] That seems a bit too vague, kind of like YouTube’s ad revenue policies. To see someone being engulfed in gaming is within perspective. One doctor or psychologist might be able to see one person as a gaming addict while another might not see the same person as addicted to gaming. It is relatively new, because of the recent surge of gaming and so no-one can truly understand who a gaming addict is and who is not. While it may be seen in the near future, it is currently not possible and if it is possible, many may cause misdiagnosis. Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, which proposed the new diagnosis to WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly states: “And let me emphasize that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that.”[2] Like I said previously, that is completely subjective. Also, it irritates me to not know what their training is. What is it? Like, would it not be obvious if someone has a gaming disorder? How would it work? Though there is some opposition from other professionals. For example, Dr. Richard Graham, lead technology addiction specialist at the Nightingale Hospital in London, said: “it is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialised services. It puts it on the map as something to take seriously.” Though he argues that “it could lead to confused parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers.”[3] highlighting the main issue when classifying this as an International classification of disease (ICD).

Also, you must consider some other factors. For example, has anyone is the WHO ever considered E-Sports at all when it came to this conclusion? E-Sports is professional gaming and there are stories out there which counter the point of having gaming disorder as a thing. Take example SKT Faker. SKT Faker, a professional League of Legends player, when he was only a teenager, he decided to drop out of high school to continue his love of gaming. He was scouted to be a part of SKT Telecom K and he played ever since for the organisation.[4] Guess what happened to him? He became known as one of the best players in League of Legends (LoL) as well as winning consecutive world titles in the game. The prize money is absurd when it comes to E-Sports. In 2016, the prize pool was $5,070,000 and last year’s being $4,946,969.[8] Faker, his team, and his organisation got both of those prize pool money because they won both years. E-Sports is not a joke. He threw away his education to win even more money than he would have if he continued his education – just by playing games that he was amazing at! While it is not implying people should leave school for a pursuit of professional gaming, if people see potential then they should go for it otherwise it would have been a wasted opportunity. Another example would be TSM Reginald, the owner of Team SoloMid. He placed his faith in LoL and focused on gaming rather than school or university and see him now.[7] Reginald owns one of the most successful franchises in E-Sports. Currently, TSM has investors such as Stephen Curry supporting his team.[9] Even actual athletes are recognising the potential in E-sports because it is as competitive as actual sports. 100 Thieves, a gaming organisation, has a partnership with the unstoppable NBA team Cleveland Cavaliers[6] and the Golden Guardians, another E-sports team, is supported by the Golden States Warriors.[5]

In my opinion, I think that gaming disorder as a classification should be reconsidered or at least put on hold for now. You must think of other factors, ones you don’t even know or think about, and while I commend WHO for trying to adapt to the new technological advances, I believe that they need further research. There are plenty of uprising professional gamers on the rise and the next thing we need is someone saying another person cannot pursue their career because of ‘gaming disorder’. While it is a good thing to consider, I believe personally, more research and proper training (in years, not months or days) should be done to properly assess this issue before they can officially press it as a disorder.

SOURCES:

[1] http://www.who.int/features/qa/gaming-disorder/en/

[2] https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/18/health/video-game-disorder-who/index.html

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42541404

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNQC5GyumQ4 [The Story of SKT Faker]

[5] https://lol.gamepedia.com/Golden_Guardians

[6] https://www.100thieves.com/partners/

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbQsmHQh2gI [The Story of TSM Reginald]

[8] https://www.esportsearnings.com/leagues/190-lol-world-championship

[9] https://www.forbes.com/consent/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattperez/2018/07/24/tsm-raises-37-million-investors-include-stephen-curry-jerry-yang/#282742827f8a

By Joerel Gestopa

Cuts to NHS Procedures

To acknowledge its 70th birthday the NHS cut a total of 17 procedures from its service which have been deemed as unnecessary. Among this list of abolished or highly restricted procedures include snoring surgery, breast reduction, tonsillectomy, and hysterectomy for heavy menstrual bleeding.

It is estimated that this will stop approximately 100,000 operations, saving the NHS £200m. The medical director of NHS England, Steve Powis, insisted to the Times that ‘there is more to be done’ and this is just ‘the first stage’ of discontinuing unmerited and needless treatments.

Personally, I can definitely see reason for these cuts as the £200m saved could contribute towards offering more essential procedures. For example, I am a strong advocate for the introduction of brain scans for patients with migraines. I think that evaluating the effectiveness of each individual treatment provided is of paramount importance so it is ensured that taxpayers’ money is not wasted, but is spent only on evidence-based and necessary treatments.

Despite this, I can sympathise with those who will be affected by these cuts who will either have to turn to alternative or privatised treatments, or they will be forced to live (and potentially suffer with) the ailments for which they pursued a remedy. For example, women who have heavy menstruation will not be provided with hysterectomy (unless circumstances are extreme and fulfill certain restricted conditions). Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure where the cervix and womb are removed, hence stopping menstruation. This would restore confidence in women with heavy menstruation as they no longer have to worry about leakage, pain or feeling uncomfortable. An added bonus of this procedure is the eliminated risk of cervical cancer and hence the abolished necessity of cervical smears. However, this is a major surgery requiring general anaesthetic, so is associated with risks such as postoperative infection. Moreover, the procedure can cause premature menopause, cannot be reversed and may be less suitable than other treatments, for example, hormone therapy. Therefore, there is a strong argument to regard hysterectomy for heavy menstruation as an unnecessary risk with little benefit.

To conclude, I would propose that the cuts made were justified and that further cuts should be made in the future. Nevertheless, I maintain that each case should be considered deeply with an emphasis on ensuring patient care is of the highest possible standard.

By Sophie Maddock

World Hepatitis Day

Did you know last Saturday (28th July) marked World Hepatitis Day? So what is hepatitis? Hepatitis is a viral infection referring to the inflammatory condition of the liver. The liver is really important in carrying out vital functions in the body that affect metabolism, such as production of bile or filtration of toxins. Hepatitis can be fatal because when the liver can no longer functional properly it can lead to bleeding disorders, kidney failure or even death [1]

Although it is caused by a virus there are other possible causes such as certain medications and alcohol. There are five different types of viral hepatitis – A, B, C, D and E [1]

Hepatitis A – spread through contaminated food/ water

Hepatitis B – spread through bodily fluids such as blood or sharing razors

Hepatitis C – it is the most common blood-borne viral infection in the US

Hepatitis D – spread through direct contact with infected blood

Hepatitis E – it is a waterborne disease and found in places with inadequate sanitation

The disease develops slowly so symptoms such as loss of appetite and fatigue may be indistinct at first. [1]

The aim of world hepatitis day is to raise awareness of the 300 or so million people worldwide who are living with the viral hepatitis. That is nearly 4 and a half times the UK population. The problem here is that they are unaware which has a knock on effect. If these people are not given the appropriate care then this virus can spread rapidly from one person to another and continue to affect many more. By raising awareness, we will be helping so much by finding those ‘missing millions’. [2]

A few years ago, due to the lack of awareness and government intervention/ political commitment, the death toll had been continually rising – despite all the treatments and vaccines found. However, a lot has changed in the previous year. Meetings were held between the global hepatitis community to discuss ways of eliminating hepatitis and it was also recognised as being a global development priority. But this is not enough; the governments now want to fully eliminate viral hepatitis and the aim is to do it by 2030. [3]

A message from the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti : ‘I urge all Member States in the African Region to use the World Hepatitis Day campaign as a vital opportunity to step up national efforts on hepatitis and to spur action to implement the strategy on viral hepatitis. I appeal to the general public to seek information about viral hepatitis and services for prevention and treatment from the nearest health facility.’[3]

Around 1.3 million deaths are caused by hepatitis and it is also the cause of two in three liver cancer deaths per year. This makes hepatitis the seventh leading cause of death globally – that is bigger than HIV/AIDS and malaria. By ‘strengthening public awareness and prevention as well as ensuring that everyone living with viral hepatitis has access to safe, affordable and effective care and treatment services’ we can really come together and make a difference.[3] [2]

Remember prevention is better than cure!

(Please visit this website to see how you can get invo

lved: http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/)

By Kashaf I

Bibliography:

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/hepatitis

[2] http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/

[3] http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/WHD20201620Global20Summary20Report_11.pdf

[4] http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/WHD20Summary20Report1.pdf

Questioning Confidentiality

Whatever, in connection with my professional service, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.’- Hippocratic Oath

Doctor-patient confidentiality is arguably one of the most important policies enforced in modern medicine. Doctors in the UK may not disclose information about their patients unless extenuating circumstances would put the patient more at risk than if the information was not disclosed.

However, complex issues arise from this policy.

Consider the following:

Mrs. A is pregnant, with what is supposedly Mr. A’s child. Mrs. A and Mr. A arrive at the clinic to test for a specific gene that causes a rare disease, of which it is known that Mr. A is a carrier of. Upon inspecting the genealogical data collected from the foetus, it comes to light that the child is not M.r A’s.

What should the doctor do?

I am going to pose three arguments to answer this question.

Argument 1

The doctor has no right to disclose the information to Mr. A as it is not the doctor’s place to do so. The couple has come to the clinic to test for the rare gene, not to test for the paternity information. Besides, it would be in the child’s and the family’s best interest not to disclose the information as this could lead to a broken home.

Argument 2

The doctor should disclose the information to Mrs. and Mr. A, as it is both of their information. It is likely that Mr. A would want to know and to withhold the information would be dishonest.

Argument 3

The doctor should tell Mrs. A but not Mr. A. The information belongs to Mrs A only as she is the carrier of the baby. It would most likely be in the best interest of Mrs. A and the child not to tell Mr. A as this could lead to a broken home.

Personally, I would agree with argument 1 as the doctor is being called on to identify the presence of the rare disease gene so it is not their place to step in. However, the two concepts of non-maleficence (do not harm) and beneficence (only do good) can be called in to question.

Would it be more harmful to tell the couple, than not to tell them? Who would it harm?

Alternatively, would it be more beneficial and who would it benefit?

In conclusion, the principle of doctor-patient confidentiality is a complex and ambiguous one. I think that there is an argument for more strict and precise guidelines for doctor’s to follow. However, I believe that the solution should be left for the individual discretion of the doctor, who is very likely to act in what they think is the best interests of all parties involved.

By Sophie Maddock

The fight against bacteria and why we are losing

Pneumonia. Cholera. Tetanus. Gonorrhoea. Syphilis. Salmonella. Sepsis. Chlamydia. Meningitis. Typhoid fever. Tuberculosis. Anthrax. Leprosy.

This is just a very short compilation of bacterial diseases existing in the present-day, the majority of which have fatal consequences if left untreated.

However, all thanks to the miracle of modern medicine we are able to control and prevent the spread of these diseases. We can also treat the infected, reducing their symptoms or even providing cures.

Drugs are prescribed to the patient that kills the bacteria or prevents them from reproducing, whilst having little to no effect on the patient’s own cells.

So what is the issue? Why are we losing this fight against these microscopic single-celled beings? The answer is antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance is all about evolution. The World Health Organisation defines it as when bacteria change in response to the use of antibiotics. This occurs due to a mutation in the DNA of some bacteria so they become resistant to the drugs. The non-resistant bacteria are killed by the drug, whereas the resistant versions survive and reproduce, passing the resistant genes on to the next generation. Eventually, the whole population becomes resistant to the drug, so it is no longer effective.

This process of natural selection, which occurs in all species worldwide, is accelerated by the rapid reproductive cycle of bacteria, some strains dividing every 20 minutes.

Microorganisms that develop this resistance are referred to as ‘superbugs’ and threaten to cause devastating pandemics, especially in underdeveloped regions where sanitation is poor.

This very real issue is catching up with us at an astronomical rate; a rate that we have been struggling to keep up with since the discovery of penicillin, the first antibiotic, in 1928. This astounding new drug completely reshaped modern medicine: an infection no longer meant a death sentence. However by 1945, just two years after mass production began in 1943, many strains of bacteria had become resistant to penicillin. And so the endless game of cat and mouse began.

Tetracycline, introduced in 1950, was rendered useless by 1959. Methicillin only lasted two years from 1960 to 1962. Gentamicin, first produced in 1967, was effective only until 1979. This process of new drug, resistance continued up until a more recent discovery of ceftaroline in 2010. However, it only took one year for bacteria to develop resistance.

As a result of this ceaseless cycle, pharmaceutical companies are pulling out of developing antibiotics. New drugs that take many years and immense expenses to produce are being rendered useless within just a year. There is simply no money to be made in the industry.

Why is resistance emerging at such a rapid rate?

This is largely due to unnecessary prescription of antibiotics. Many infections, like flu, are caused by viruses and not bacteria, so antibiotics have no effect. Also, it is often the case that the wrong antibiotic is prescribed or a patient does not finish the full course of the antibiotic.

Another major issue is the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Factory farm animals are given antibiotics to protect them against illness caused by their confined and overcrowded conditions. In the USA 80% of antibiotics sold are given to farm animals.

As a result of our excessive overuse of antibiotics, we are handing bacteria a detailed instruction manual to overcoming our one and only defence again them.

What impact will this have on our everyday lives?

Firstly a large number of surgeries will become much more risky, for example, eye surgery. These routine procedures could lead to fatal outcomes due to post-operative infections.

In addition, the 8 out of 100 babies born prematurely will be unlikely to survive as without a functioning immune system they are very vulnerable to infection.

Also, life expectancy will plummet as the elderly falling victim to bacterial flu- or worse, pneumonia- will be helpless without antibiotic treatment.

Transplants will become a thing of the past as the immune system needs to be suppressed in order to prevent the body rejecting the new tissue. This will increase the risk of infection to such a degree that bacteria will be likely to kill you faster than the organ in question would take to fail.

Skin infections will lead to amputation. 1 in 100 women will die after childbirth.  Even a small cut could have extreme adverse effects.

 

What can we possibly do to stop or even slow down this catastrophic issue?

The scientific community needs to devote more time and funding into developing new antibiotics. It will be of paramount importance that technology is the main point of call for this research. For instance, technology is being introduced that can predict how bacteria will evolve and hence new drugs can be created prior to that bacteria becoming active.

Antibiotics must only be prescribed when wholly necessary and care must be taken to ensure that the right antibiotic is being used.

However these actions are far beyond an individual’s power to influence. Instead you can follow these simple steps to minimise your role in causing antibiotic resistance:

  • If you are ever prescribed antibiotics ensure you follow through with the full course as detailed by your prescription.
  • Research where your meat is coming from and try not to buy from companies that are known to use vast amounts of antibiotics. From personal research I have found that as a general rule fast food chains tend to use meat from animals that are given a lot of antibiotics, whereas locally sourced meat use less or none.
  • Where possible try to reduce your risk of needing antibiotics. If you cut yourself or sustain a minor injury that results in broken skin, ensure you keep the wound clean and sterile. This will greatly reduce risk of infection.

To conclude I would like to leave you with a telling quote from Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered the first antibiotic in 1928:

“The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of a man who succumbs to infection with a penicillin-resistant organism. I hope this evil can be averted.”

By Sophie Maddock

Related links:

https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/ARC/Pages/AboutARC.aspx

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/antimicrobial-resistance-amr-information-and-resources

https://www.ted.com/talks/maryn_mckenna_what_do_we_do_when_antibiotics_don_t_work_any_more

 

 

 

 

 

NHS – Is it up for sale?

Hi guys, it’s Joerel here on Medicine on My Mind. I’m just your average 17-year-old student studying at Newman Sixth. While I may or may not be interested in studying medicine for university (I’m actually more focused on becoming a human geneticist), I’m here to inform people of any important news and advances in medicine, whether it be something like the CRSIPR-Cas9 system or the NHS.

And let’s focus on something today – the NHS.

The NHS, the National Health Service, was founded in 1948 and is a free health service (mostly) within the UK. While it was successive during the time of its creation, the NHS has been stumbling downhill for the past few years. Whether the blame can be put on the financial crisis of the NHS, availability of hospitals or the government itself, anyone can agree that the NHS is not doing as well as it should.

So where is this taking us exactly? Well, we should ask ourselves, what’s the current worry for the NHS? Well, the NHS may or may not be up for sale.

According to the Guardian, Theresa May has refused to rule out whether the NHS would be sold out or not after Brexit. Isn’t Brexit so wonderful? I’ll have some links somewhere at the bottom of this blog, but it is really concerning. Oversimplifying this whole debacle, Theresa May was asked whether the NHS may be associated with US health corporations but has refused to comment on it. All she says about this, back at Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader, who asked this question, was that he “doesn’t know what they’re going to say in their requirements for that free trade agreement. We will go into those negotiations to get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom.” The rest of the article is basically explaining the issues of the Brexit deals, whether it will happen or not, and Labour just disagreeing with the plans.

But what exactly is the “best possible deal?” Would you like Donald Trump having a say in our NHS? There is no guarantee from our Prime Minister that our NHS is safe. She pretty much avoided answering Cable’s question. There are so many possibilities, but is it so much to ask to protect our free national health service that we have had for 70 years? The concern is that if US corporations have power in our NHS, it could be possible for private firms to have power which could lead to the privatisation of our NHS and essentially end the NHS.

It’s really worrying that our prime minister cannot answer whether the NHS is safe or not. While the prime minister’s spokesperson stated that “the NHS is not for sale and it never will be”, we the general public are more in the dark with the Brexit deals and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or the TTIP) than Theresa May. It’s unknown what the NHS may be looking at, but anything is possible – even demanding the NHS. The Independent highlights how “critics say this rising “privatisation” has opened the door to US health firms, who already view the NHS as a gold mine”, so it’s highly possible that the NHS may be a tradable bargaining chip for Theresa May’s so-called “best possible deal” with the TTIP.

Though I have hope for our country, the prime minister, government and NHS. I would like to keep things positive. We should trust Theresa May to give us the best possible deal for the UK, and it may be possible that the deal may have a positive impact on the NHS. We don’t know what will happen and the fate of the NHS is in the hands of May and the government, so we should have faith in them to protect our NHS. But just remember this: a lot of this is my opinion based on a few sources and this topic is recently new with little progress, so anything is entirely possible. But we should all have hope for what would come.

Thanks guys for reading.

By Joerel Gestopa

SOURCES:
HYPERLINK “https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/feb/07/theresa-may-refuses-to-rule-out-nhs-contracts-from-us-trade-deals” https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/feb/07/theresa-may-refuses-to-rule-out-nhs-contracts-from-us-trade-deals
HYPERLINK “http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-nhs-us-trade-deal-talks-privatisation-healthcare-trump-a8198871.html” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-nhs-us-trade-deal-talks-privatisation-healthcare-trump-a8198871.html
HYPERLINK “https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/fury-theresa-refuses-guarantee-shell-11985755” https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/fury-theresa-refuses-guarantee-shell-11985755
HYPERLINK “http://uk.businessinsider.com/theresa-may-nhs-brexit-free-trade-deal-donald-trump-2018-2” http://uk.businessinsider.com/theresa-may-nhs-brexit-free-trade-deal-donald-trump-2018-2