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Crisis looms as health workers announce indefinite strike

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The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) says it will begin an indefinite nationwide strike by midnight on Tuesday.

Josiah Biobelemoye, president of the union, announced this when he led the union executive on a courtesy visit to Jafaru Momoh, chief medical director of the National Hospital, Abuja.

He alleged that Isaac Adewole, minister of health, had been treating the union members as slaves.

He said the minister failed to implement the agreement reached by the union with the federal government on September 30, 2017, for upward adjustment of CONHESS.

Biobelemoye said the implementation of the agreement was supposed to begin five weeks after it was signed “as was done for medical doctors”.

He said JOHESU accounted for 95 percent of health sector workers in the country but regretted that the union’s demands were always taken for granted.

“We are committed to ensuring peace in the sector hence for the past three years we resisted strike but we should not be forced to withdraw the peace,” he said.

“Help us to tell government. All we are saying is equity, justice and peace.

“We love Nigerians and government should help us love Nigerians the more by doing the needful.”

Patricia Etteh, chairman, board of National Hospital, Abuja, appealed to union officials to shelve its proposed strike in the interest of the people.

Etteh urged the union to consider the plight of the masses, who always suffered more during such actions in the health sector.

“In the event of strike in the health sector, the poor always bear the burden as they cannot afford access to healthcare in private hospitals in Nigeria and abroad,” she said.

“But the rich will not mind as a lot of them travel abroad to receive the desired healthcare services. There so many ways you can embark on strike without shutting down hospitals because the masses will suffer.

“I plead with you to give me sometime to dialogue with the concerned ministry with regard to your demand for upward adjustment of CONHESS and other issues.

“I believe before the close of work tomorrow (Tuesday), through the concerted efforts of all and sundry, something positive will come out from my dialogue with the Minister of Health and others.”

The CMD also pleaded with the union not to withdraw emergency services in hospitals in the event of any strike.

He assured the union members that their issues would be resolved in the shortest possible time “through divine interventions”.

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HEALTH

Selfie addiction ‘may be a sign of mental illness’

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Taking selfies and uploading on social media is very popular and there doesn’t seem to be an issue with it. However, before you take that next selfie for the gram, two psychologists say selfies may be a sign of mental illness.

In 2014, a news article used the word ‘selfitis’, saying that the American Psychiatric Association was going to start recognising it as a real disorder.

In a paper published in the International Journal of Mental Health, Mark D. Griffiths and Janarthanan Balakrishnan argued that selfitis is a real condition and can be diagnosed as excessive selfie taking.

They also developed a “Selfitis Behaviour Scale” by surveying the selfie behaviour of 400 participants from India. The scale assesses the severity of the condition, of which there are three levels.

A borderline case is when someone takes selfies at least three times a day but they don’t post them on any social media platform.

The next level is acute, which means they post the selfies and the chronic stage is when people cannot control the urge to take photos of themselves — snapping up at least six selfie posts a day.

“Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to ‘fit in’ with those around them, and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviours,” Balakrishnan said.

“Now the existence of the condition appears to have been confirmed, it is hoped that further research will be carried out to understand more about how and why people develop this potentially obsessive behaviour, and what can be done to help people who are the most affected.”

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HEALTH

Experimental drug ‘may prevent’ stillbirth, premature birth

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Scientists from the University of Adelaide, Australia, believe that an experimental drug may ultimately prevent the most common cause of premature birth.

The drug, naloxone, has shown considerable success in early animal trials, according to the team’s findings which were published in Scientific Reports.

A series of experiments were conducted by researchers on pregnant mice with a non-opioid form of naloxone.

This non-opioid form, (+)-naloxone, was found to drastically reduce the rate of mice delivering their young prematurely or stillborn when they were exposed to a substance found in bacteria that causes inflammation.

The drug also prevented newborn mice from having low birth weight when their mothers were exposed to E. coli bacteria late in their pregnancy.

“We found that by treating pregnant mice with (+)-naloxone, it provided complete protection against pre-term birth triggered by bacteria,” Sarah Robertson, senior author and professor at the university’s Robinson Research Institute, said in a statement.

“It also protected against stillbirth and infant death shortly after birth, and led to a correction in birth weight among infants that would otherwise be born at very low birth weight.”

Inflammation is a key component of what stimulates a normal delivery process, however, bacterial infections, stress, or other damage to the placenta during pregnancy can also ignite an inflammatory response which leads to premature births, the authors said.

Although naloxone is already used to reduce inflammation, the version created by Robertson’s team specifically inhibits a receptor that signals this sort of inflammation called Toll-Like receptor 4 (TLR4).

“TLR4 is a trigger of spontaneous pre-term birth. For this reason, we wanted to test a drug known for its ability to block the actions of TLR4, to see if that would also prevent pre-term birth.

“Our studies give us some encouragement that it may be possible to prevent many pre-term births, by using drugs that target the body’s inflammatory mechanisms, probably in combination with antibiotics as well,” Robertson added.

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Hot tea increases cancer risk, study warns

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Drinking hot or burning hot tea is associated with an increased risk for esophageal cancer when combined with excessive alcohol or tobacco use, a recent study showed.

The study, published in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine, was conducted by Chinese researchers from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Peking University.

The study collected data from a total of 456,155 Chinese participants aged between 30 and 79 and lasted for an average period of more than nine years.

By 2015, it found that 1,731 people who didn’t have cancer at the initiation of the study were diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

“High-temperature tea drinking combined with either alcohol consumption or smoking was associated with a greater risk for esophageal cancer than hot tea drinking alone,” said the study.

People who drank both burning hot tea and more than a standard serving of 15g of alcohol daily were five times as likely to develop esophageal cancer than those who drank tea and alcohol less frequently, the study showed.

Likewise, it said, current smokers who drank burning hot tea daily were twice as likely to develop cancer.

Hot beverages at temperatures above 65 degrees Celsius could impair the barrier function of the cells lining one’s gullet, or food pipe, thus making it more vulnerable to cancer-causing agents or existing inflammation, CNN quoted Neal Freedman, a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, as saying.

However, the study said no increase in esophageal cancer risk was seen among participants who drank hot tea if they did not drink more than 15g of alcohol daily and smoke tobacco.

In fact, early clinical studies suggest that polyphenols, the natural plant compounds found in tea, may play an important role in the prevention of cancer, as researchers believe that polyphenols help kill cancerous cells and stop them from growing, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

In that sense, tea lovers need not give up their hobby so long as they consume tea at temperatures below 65 degrees Celsius and avoid excessive alcohol or tobacco use.

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