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Health + Medicine — Analysis and Comment

Four-year-old Chloe Valentine sustained injuries and died after being made to ride and repeatedly crash her 50-kilogram motorbike. AAP Image/South Australian Supreme Court

Abuse and neglect: Australia’s child protection ‘crisis’

The tragic death of four-year old Chloe Valentine in South Australia has raised concerns that the state’s child protection system is in crisis. Following a history of abuse and neglect, Chloe’s mother…
Decisions are difficult and prone to error when risk and protective factors appear to be fairly equal. atikinka/Shutterstock

Risky business: how protection workers decide to remove children from their parents

Imagine you’re a child protection worker who has received a notification from a teacher voicing concerns about a child in her class. The case involves a five-year-old boy named Toby. Toby’s mum has had…
The likelihood of cases presenting in Australia is currently low but we need to be prepared. Dan Peled/AAP

How would Australian hospitals respond to a case of Ebola?

As the Ebola outbreak continues in West Africa, hospitals and health systems are preparing for possible cases in Australia. What would this response look like? Australia has a system of “designated hospitals…
Reduced access to generics drugs has contributed to the 80% rise in the cost of Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Diego Cervo/Shutterstock

It’s time to fix the free trade bungle on the cost of medicines

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Mining giant Rio Tinto, which has operated in Guinea for 50 years, has donated just US$100,000 to the UN Ebola fund. EPA/Ahmed Jallanzo

Mining companies must dig deep in the fight against Ebola

The current outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa shows no signs of halting. More than 4,500 people have died and many thousands more are infected. Despite the creation of a new United Nations mission…
Many women find it difficult to strike the right balance between nutrition and safety. Sean McGrath/Flickr

Health Check: what to eat and avoid during pregnancy

As soon as women announce “I’m having a baby!”, the congratulations are quickly followed by long lists of dos and don'ts about food. Try ginger for morning sickness. Avoid soft cheese because of listeria…
Intimate images are also being used in domestic violence and sexual assault situations – to blackmail victims, or to discourage them from seeking help from the police. Stephan Geyer/Flickr

More than revenge: when intimate images are posted online

“Revenge porn”. It’s when a partner or ex-partner posts nude or intimate pictures or videos online and without consent. And in the absence of better laws, perpetrators are largely getting away with it…
A parasite wants to live with you, and to do that it needs to convince your body’s immune system to ignore it. Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock

Bugs as treatment: coming to a clinic near you…

When you’re sick, you want the most effective treatment to help get you back on your feet. But what if that involved bugs? Maggots and leeches have been used for decades and are still supplied to hospitals…
Facebook users willingly spread marketing messages on behalf of food and beverage corporations. Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Digital junk: food and beverage marketing on Facebook

We all know obesity is a common, serious, and costly health issue. But while government action has stalled and the debate rages on about how best to combat this growing public health disaster, junk food…
Children are particularly susceptible to the toxic effects of lead because their brains and bodies are still developing. Viacheslav Nikolaenko/Shutterstock

Toxic playgrounds: Broken Hill kids exposed to poisonous dust

In the shadows of Broken Hill’s rich mining history lies a legacy of contamination and regulatory failure that will likely outlive any benefits locals derive from mining. One in five children aged under…
It’s not yet clear how the Coalition will weigh health issues against economic priorities. jdwfoto/Shutterstock

Coalition’s policy bodes ill for health in free trade negotiations

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Lab scientists working with Ebola use respirators, while surgical masks are deemed adequate for nurses at the front line. EPA/Anne-Marie Sanderson/DOH

How are nurses becoming infected with Ebola?

American nurse Nina Pham is the second health worker to contract Ebola outside of West Africa while caring for patients with the virus, despite using personal protective equipment. Authorities were quick…
Local communities can support healthy eating and active lifestyles in a range of settings. Peter Bernik/Shutterstock

Big junk vs people power: how we can fix our collective weight problem

Over the past three decades, the Australasia region has outpaced other regions of the world with the largest absolute increase in adult obesity. Poor diet and high body mass index have overtaken tobacco…
Just 14% of Australians have an advance care plan. Simplificamos Su Trabajo/Flickr

Making a will? Why not plan your end-of-life care too

More than half of Australians have a will (59%) to determine how their property will be divided after they die. And 30% have appointed a power of attorney to make financial decisions if they lose the capacity…
Try to avoid too many saturated fatty acids by choosing oils that are liquid at room temperature. Marjan Lazarevski/Flickr

Health Check: cooking oils to eat and avoid

Health conscious consumers are increasingly ditching old favourites vegetable and canola oil for trendy alternatives like coconut and peanut oil. But are they any healthier? And how do they compare with…
It’s unclear whether Spanish dog Excalibur, pictured here with owner Javier Limon (husband of Ebola-infected nurse Teresa Ramos), was infected. EFE/PACMA

We still don’t know if domestic animals can spread Ebola

Spanish authorities have euthanised the dog of Madrid nurse Teresa Romero Ramos, who contracted Ebola. The 12-year-old dog, Excalibur, was not showing symptoms and was not tested for Ebola. But he lived…
Ebola is not spread through small airborne particles or larger droplets from coughing or sneezing. placbo/Flickr

Should we be worried about Ebola becoming airborne?

Suggestions the Ebola virus could “mutate” into a form that is transmissible by the respiratory route are speculative, and the likelihood of it happening are low. Nonetheless, the idea appears to have…
Elderly patients increasingly have multiple illnesses and are much more difficult to care for. Julian Rovagnati/Shutterstock

Why hospitals need more generalist doctors and specialist nurses

New medical technologies and treatments over the past few decades have led to remarkable improvements in treating older patients. The annual death rate for an 80-year-old male in 2011 was just 5.6%, compared…
A psychotic episode can be a one-off event or an ongoing illness, but it’s currently difficult to predict. wrangler/Shutterstock

Predicting the future course of psychotic illness

Psychotic illness is a relatively rare but often severe form of mental illness, affecting around one in 100 people at some point in their lives. It most commonly begins in adolescence and early adulthood…
For around three million Australians, spring is rendered utterly miserable by allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Adam Moralee/Flickr

Hay fever misery prediction: some to get off lightly, others to suffer

For many, spring is the most agreeable time of year. But for one in six people (around three million Australians), this balmiest of seasons is rendered utterly miserable by allergic rhinitis or hay fever…