EASI Congratulates Dr Forau on New Role as CBSI Governor
Quoting Solomon Times on Line – 12 November 2019
“The Economic Association of Solomon Islands Congratulates Dr. Luke Forau on his new role as the Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands."
“The Executive members of the Economic Association of Solomon Islands (EASI), on behalf of its members and the general economics fraternity wishes to congratulate Dr. Luke Forau on his new appointment as the Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI).
“Dr. Luke is among the key pioneers of EASI who continuously advocated for the growth and advancement of the economics profession. In particular, this included the greater awareness of economic issues, the importance of a well-managed economy, as well as advocating for evidenced based policies.
“Dr. Forau also comes from a strong academic background with a PhD in Economics from the University of New South Wales in Australia.”
Copyright @ 2019, Solomon Times on Line.
Samoa University cancels graduation over measles outbreak
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 12 November 2019
“”Samoa's National University has been forced to postpone its end of the year graduation after two students contracted measles.
“The foundation students will be told when to collect their certificates but the university said the graduation had been postponed until next April.
“Meanwhile, the chief executive of Samoa Airways, Seiuli Tupuivao Alvin Tuala, has reaffirmed that the national carrier is still operating despite speculation of the airline rejecting passengers at check-in counters for refusing to provide proof of measles immunisation.
“Auckland University's vaccine specialist Helen Petousis-Harris said mass immunisation of the Samoan community and quarantining of those who were sick are the two most effective interventions to harness the measles epidemic sweeping through the country.”
Copyright © 2019, Radio New Zealand
11 November 2019
Blood 'cleaning' treatment which pulls disease from body using magnets ready for human trials
As malaria continues to be source of illness in the Solomon Islands, I came upon a news report which I thought to share with your readers.
Sarah Knapton, writing in the The Telegraph, said deadly conditions like leukaemia, sepsis and malaria could be drawn from the body using magnets, after a British engineer designed a blood filtering system which sieves away disease.
“Dr George Frodsham, came up with the idea while studying how magnetic nanoparticles can be made to bind to cells in the body, to allow, for example those cells to show up on scanners.
“But he realised that if it was possible to magnetise cells for imaging, it should also be possible to then suck them out of the blood.
“In theory, any bacterial infection, blood cancer, or virus that could be grabbed by a tiny magnetic particle could be removed from the body without the need for lengthy treatments with harsh drugs.
“The first human trials of the technology - called MediSieve - are awaiting approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and are likely to start next year. Testing will begin on malaria in 2020 followed by trials to see if the device can remove sepsis-causing bacteria and dampen down the deadly immune response by 2021.
“Dr Frodsham, the CEO of MediSieve, a spin-off from University College London (UCL), said: “In theory you can go after almost anything. Poisons, pathogens, viruses bacteria, anything that we can specifically bind to we can remove. So it’s a very powerful potential tool.
“When someone has a tumour you cut it out, Blood cancer is a tumour in the blood, so why not just take it out in the same way?
“Now is we know it’s possible, it’s just a question of figuring out some of the details.”
“The filtration system works in a similar way to dialysis. Blood is removed from the patient and infused with tiny magnetic particles which bind to the specific disease. Those bound substances are then trapped in the system using magnets and the ‘cleaned’ blood is pumped back into the body.
“The blood could be run through the system several times until the disease is at such low levels that it can be removed by the immune system or a short course of drugs. And the whole process is likely to take just two to four hours, although could be repeated if necessary.
Curiously, malaria becomes magnetic naturally when it enters the body because it targets iron rich red blood cells which means that the first step is not necessary.
“The malaria parasite invades the red blood cell and consumes the haemoglobin, and therefore it leaves an iron based waste product, which it then takes inside itself. So effectively malaria parasites poop is magnetic and then it eats its poop,” added Dr Frodsham.
“We can never get to 100 per cent with something like this so you can get to 99 per cent so you can rely on the body to mop up the rest or you will be looking to use alongside drug therapy.
“With sepsis we’re going after five different targets, both the root causes and mediating the immune response,” he said.
“Charities welcomed the new development saying that new treatments were desperately needed for blood cancers like leukaemia and they looked forward to the results of clinical trials to see if it would be an effective solution.
“Dr Alasdair Rankin, Director of Research at the blood cancer charity Bloodwise, said: “As surprising as it sounds, laboratory scientists have used antibodies attached to magnetic beads for decades to separate out cells for their experiments.
“ Unfortunately, blood cancer cells don’t all circulate in the blood. Some stay in the bone marrow and lymph nodes and the only way to cure blood cancers like leukaemia is to eliminate these cells completely – or the cancer will return.
“But this is an interesting idea - by removing cancer cells from the body rather than killing them with drugs inside the body, this sort of approach could reduce the need for drugs with toxic side effects.”
“Earlier this year Dr Frodsham won the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Innovator of the Year Award and is hoping that the device will inspire a new generation of engineers to find technological solutions to the big medical problems rather than simply looking for new drugs.
“He is backing the new Royal Academy of Engineering campaign ‘This is Engineering’ which aims to show there is more to the profession than building roads and bridges.
“We’ve put blinkers on ourselves,’ he said. “ Anyone who is looking at new solutions to malaria were looking at drugs, and it hadn’t entered anyone’s mind you could use a devices and I said ‘look we have this physics we can use’.
“If you look in hospitals, everything is being done by engineers. All the equipment and the surgical stuff and the syringes and the machines and monitoring to keep you alive.
“If people are looking for a potential career in which they want to change the world and benefit people and honestly don’t into medicine go into engineering, you will have a much bigger impact. A doctor will never treat a million people but an engineer could.”
“Commenting on the new technology Dr Ron Daniels, CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust said : "The development of new technologies and their application in the clinical setting has potential to transform the way we manage this complex condition in the future.
"However, we need to be mindful of the associated risk with therapies such as this, particularly involving the circulation of blood outside the body. In the UK, these would have to undergo a rigorous testing and approval process before use in a critical care setting."
Source: The Telegraph and Yahoo.
New diplomat to UN wants more Pacific say over ocean resources
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 11 November 2019
“Solomon Islands' incoming representative to the United Nations wants to ensure Pacific countries gain control over their ocean resources.
“Dr. Transform Aqorau, who was the original chief executive of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, helped turn the group of Pacific Island nations into a force to be reckoned with in the international tuna trade.
“In that role, Dr. Aqorau wanted the Pacific to be given more say about what happened in their ocean and he would take those ideas with him to New York.
“He said he was passionate about ensuring that Pacific nations had a sense of self-reliance, and self-determination.
"I am passionate about ensuring that we try and re-structure our ocean management regime so that we are not just by-standers in the development of our ocean resources but that we are participants."
Copyright © 2019, Radio New Zealand
11 November 2019
Solomon Islands: Women and girls rights in the context of medical services, screening and treatment.
It was reported today, Monday, that the Prime Minister, the Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, believes the national Government can learn from the Waka Mere model in improving gender equality in leadership roles in the country’s public service.
The PM was guest speaker at a business breakfast event to celebrate the successful completion and launch of the Waka Mere Commitment to Action report which shows 6,585 employees from fifteen companies in the private sector are now benefiting from more equal, supportive and respectful workplaces.
The PM went on to say, “We need more companies to take up the challenge to make their workplaces safer, more equitable, more supportive, and more productive. My government also needs to take up this challenge.”
I agree entirely with the Prime Minister’s remarks about women’s rights in the work places, but I would like to see more government effort in dealing with women’s health issues in view of the still, reported, lack of cervical and breast screening programmes.
The subject is a sensitive one for many women and girls in the Solomon Islands due to cultural and traditional norms and often a reason why so few women seek to get screening even when there are now, as I understand the situation, some private medical doctors undertaking such services. Another reason I believe is due to costs, although said to be relatively low, I am told that many women have so little means to pay for private examinations.
I picked up the same concerns the other day when I read that a local fisherman had suggested more people turn to eating fish in their daily meals to avoid obesity and the onset of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCD.s). Many responding to the fisherman’s advice by saying they did not have the money to eat fish and had to resort to eating cheaper foods containing less healthy protein and too much fat or sugar content.
I don’t have an update of the prevailing health risks to women and girls in the Solomon Islands but believe that cancer of the genitor-urinary organs, skin cancer, breast and malignancies predominate in females.
Last month, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, announced that Australia will support the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Solomon Islands to continue its important work empowering at-risk girls. Australia’s support will be funded through its Pacific Girl investment.
Minister Payne made the announcement during a visit to the YWCA’s Honiara hostel on Wednesday.
The Pacific Girl program works to encourage girls to develop expanded peer networks to help them feel less isolated, more confident, to learn from each other and to work together to take collective action to advance their interests. It also supports girls with practical training opportunities to gain alternative income generation skills and opportunities; and connects them to essential health and law and justice services.
Minister Payne said adolescent girls in Solomon Islands face many of the same challenges as girls in Australia and other parts of the world.
Through the Pacific Girl program, young Solomon Islands girls will be connected with mentors to help develop their skills and build their support networks, she said.
I believe much more is needed than what Senator Payne offered the YWCA.
In 2016, I recall having read that theFamily Planning in NSW was partnering with the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) to provide new cervical and breast screening services for women over 25 years old
At that time it was claimed the Family Planning NSW and the MHMS aimed to screen 2,000 women for cervical cancer during the two-year pilot project.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the use of VIA in low resource settings, such as in the Solomon Islands as it does not require a laboratory for processing specimens. In addition, the results of screening are available immediately, and women with suitable pre-cancerous lesions can be treated on site using cryotherapy.
The aim of the project was to determine the feasibility of a single visit approach in the Solomon Islands. If the evaluation found the project to be successful, a national program would be implemented with the aim of decreasing cervical cancer deaths in women of the Solomon Islands.
The Family Planning NSW was seeking funds to purchase equipment which would enable the expansion of the project. Funds would be used to purchase essential equipment such as cryotherapy guns, cryotherapy tips, sterilisers and carbon dioxide gas (the refrigerant used to treat pre-cancerous lesions).
In April 2016, it was claimed, twelve doctors, midwives and nurses completed the first Solomon Islands training on cervical screening using a single visit approach. During the five day course, participants learned how to conduct cervical screening (VIA and Pap tests), cryotherapy of the cervix, counselling on cervical cancer prevention and community education. Course content was developed for the local context and delivered by nurse educators from Family Planning NSW with funding from the Australian Government.
Since the training in April 2016, more than 200 women are said to have been screened at three pilot sites in Honiara and Guadalcanal province. Women with positive results were either treated in local clinics using cryotherapy or referred to the National Referral Hospital for follow up, where the lead obstetrician and gynaecologist is supportive of this project.
Are local clinics providing quality services to large numbers of women? I pose the question now three years since the NSW Family Planning Association project and given the fact that many clinics are not adequately provisioned and some patient care deemed to be inadequate.
I also raise the issue whether cervical screening tests did locally need referral offshore for processing. If so, what measures are now in place for alternative cervical screening and treatment?
Given all the complexity of issues in respect of women and girl’s rights to medical screening for cervical cancer and breast screening, including the very important factor of costs outside the hospital services once more fully covered by the NRH, but now more commonly referred to the HCC health clinics, what can be done by the SIG to encourage, support and ensure a much better health system for local women and girls?
I have in mind a Solomon Islands centred Family Planning Association being a leading provider of reproductive and sexual health services. Such services giving expert advice on contraception, pregnancy, sexually transmissible infections (STIs), menstruation, menopause, common gynaecological and vaginal problems, cervical screening, breast screening and awareness.
It is vitally important to know that most cases of cervical cancer and breast cancer can be prevented through cervical screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions.