Ebola waning, but World Health Organisation must respond better next time,

Ebola is declining but there is no room for complacency and the World Health Organization (WHO) must respond faster to future emergencies, its director-general told member states held talks on Sunday on the WHO’s delay in facing the deadly epidemic.

The special session in Geneva was called by member states seeking reforms amid strong criticism of the United Nations agency’s response to the outbreak that began a year ago in West Africa.

SOURCE : www.expathealth.org

Saudi Arabia. Deadline for biometrics has now passed

The media in Saudi Arabia has caused confusion among expats this week as it had reported that the deadline for registration of health insurance and biometrics was to be extended three months, until April this year.

The Passport Office has strongly refuted these claims and assured expats that, contrary to the media reports, the deadline for registration has not been extended, and that it has now passed. The deadline for registering biometrics in Saudi Arabia was the 21st January this year.

It has now become mandatory for all male and female expats, and their dependents over the age of fifteen, to have their biometrics registered with the Passport Office of Saudi Arabia. Residency permits (iqamas) are issued to those expatriates who live in Saudi Arabia on an employment visa. These will now not be issued or renewed without proof of health insurance and biometrics, without an iqama, entry and exit will be denied to expats. Once fingerprints have been recorded on the Automated Central System (ACS), they do not need to be recorded again, although they will be checked upon exit and entry to the country and upon renewal of the iqama, which is only valid for one to two years.

It must be noted by expats living in the country that they are liable to face a considerable fine if they have not already registered their biometrics, and their exit visas will not be granted until this has been done. Information on where to go to register can be found on the passport control website.

SOURCE : www.expathealth.org

Exercise advice is unrealistic

imagesResearchers say current exercise guidelines are unrealistic and argue that doctors should sometimes advise small increases in activity instead.

They warn the 150-minute weekly target is beyond the reach of some people – particularly older individuals.

And striving to reach these goals could mean the benefits of lighter exercise are overlooked.

But public health officials say current recommendations have proven benefits in lowering the risk of heart disease.

Tailored advice

There is mounting evidence that inactivity is linked to heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.

UK guidelines for adults recommend at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity a week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.

But in two separate articles in the BMJ, experts argue the message needs to change, with greater emphasis on making inactive people move more.

Prof Philipe de Souto Barreto at the University Hospital of Toulouse, advises people who are sedentary to make small incremental increases in their activity levels – rather than pushing to achieve current goals.

He points to previous studies which show even short periods of walking or just 20 minutes of vigorous activity a few times a month, can reduce the risk of death, compared to people who do no exercise.

In the second article, Prof Phillip Sparling of the Georgia Institute of Technology, says doctors should tailor their advice – particularly for older patients.

He suggests using GP visits for people over 60 to discuss “realistic options” to increase activity – such as getting people to stand up and move during TV commercial breaks.

Prof Kevin Fenton at Public Health England, says: “Everyone needs to be active every day – bouts of 10 or more minutes of physical activity have proven health benefits, but getting 150 minutes or more of moderate activity every week is the amount we need to positively impact on a wide range of health conditions.

“This includes reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”

BBC News

Falling Ebola cases turning point

There has been a “turning point” in the Ebola crisis, with cases falling in the three affected countries, World Health Organization officials say.

Just eight cases were detected in Liberia in the last week down from a peak of 500-a-week in September. Guinea and Sierra Leone have also seen falls.

The WHO said the figures were the “most promising” since the outbreak started.

But it continues to urge caution, and to highlight the need to find those who had contact with Ebola patients.

The largest outbreak of Ebola in human history has infected 21,724 people and killed 8,641 – largely in just three countries, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.


The Best Places to Retire in 2015

shutterstock_58717219The new year is here and with it comes International Living’s report, The Best Places to Retire in 2015. The report, targeting North American expats, features 25 countries all of which offer advantages to retiring expats. We will take a look at which countries offer the best healthcare options for retirees.

The countries making up the top five retirement havens are all in Latin and South America apart from one. Ecuador comes in first place, followed by Panama, Mexico, Malaysia, and Costa Rica. Of these five destinations, Malaysia scores the highest in the healthcare category with 94 points out of 100.

The countries are scored across eight categories including climate, housing and rentals, cost of living as well as healthcare. All 25 countries in the report scored above 70 for healthcare, we’ve mentioned Malaysia, the top scorer with 94 points. The other high scoring countries in terms of healthcare were Costa Rica, Panama, Uruguay, and Thailand, all with 89 points. Read More>

SOURCE : Expathealth.org

Stress stops empathy for strangers

Stress is the reason why we find it hard to empathise with someone we do not know, researchers suggest.

In separate tests in mice and people, empathy towards strangers increased when stress hormones were blocked by a drug.

Playing a fun video game with a stranger was found to have a similar effect to the drug.

The Canadian and American research team published their findings in Current Biology.

Previous studies have shown that the ability to feel or share someone else’s pain is not something unique to humans. Mice can feel empathy too.

But in both species, empathy is stronger between those that recognise each other and all but absent between those unfamiliar with each other.

Stress levels have also been shown to rise in both mice and people in the presence of strangers.

BBC News

Possible Ebola cases flown to UK

Two volunteers have been transferred to the UK after potential contact with the Ebola virus in separate incidents.

Public Health England said the patients’ risk of having the virus was low and the measure was a precaution.

Authorities said the individuals – one of whom is Australian – had not been diagnosed with Ebola and did not currently have symptoms of the disease.

Experts emphasised the risk to the public was low and said the volunteers would be monitored for 21 days.

Australian authorities confirmed an Australian nurse was flown to the UK after a low risk clinical incident while working in Sierra Leone.


Poor diabetes care costing lives

Poor diabetes care in England is leading to avoidable deaths, record rates of complications and huge costs to the NHS, a charity is warning.

Diabetes UK says the disease is the fastest growing health threat of our times and current care models are not working to get on top of the problem.

The NHS spends a tenth of its budget on diabetes, but most goes on managing complications not preventing them.

The government says it is focusing on early intervention.

Long and healthy life

Diabetes is a chronic condition and, if poorly managed, can lead to devastating complications, including blindness, amputations, kidney failure, stroke and early death.

Best-practice guidelines say patients should get regular checks to ensure they are controlling their condition well enough to avoid future complications.


ALC Health commences new global claims service

1st January saw the launch of our new global claims handling service for both new and renewing customers.

With dedicated medical 24/7 service centres in the UK, New Zealand and Singapore, you will enjoy unmatched service and support no matter where in the world you may be living, working or travelling.

HealixInternational_LogoMany of the world’s leading brands including Panasonic, Shell, Jaguar Land Rover, Inchcape, CNN, Oxfam and the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office already trust Healix International to manage their international medical insurance claims and now you will be able to benefit from this exceptional VIP service and support.

Responding to over 450,000 calls for medical assistance each year and managing claims in over 190 countries worldwide, ALC Health’s new claims service ensures you receive the very best care – day or night.

If you would like to know more, contact ALC Heath and we’ll tell you more about our award winning iPMI products and services.

Elastic implant ‘reverses paralysis’

An elastic implant that moves with the spinal cord can restore the ability to walk in paralysed rats, say scientists.

Implants are an exciting field of research in spinal cord injury, but rigid designs damage surrounding tissue and ultimately fail.

A team at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) has developed flexible implants that work for months.

It was described by experts as a “groundbreaking achievement of technology”.

The spinal cord is like a motorway with electrical signals rushing up and down it instead of cars.

Injury to the spinal cord leads to paralysis when the electrical signals are stuck in a jam and can no longer get from the brain to the legs.