health

Four thousand nurses and midwives met at Sydney Olympic Park on November 24 to protest against the state government's refusal to fund safe nurse-to patient-ratios.

It was the first state-wide nurses’ strike since 2001 and 170 hospitals were affected.

The action was supported by 180 branches of the NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA). The Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) said the strike must be called off, but the nurses were defiant.

Greece’s government intends to bump up sales taxes for the third time this year and slash spending on health care. The new measures were included in the 2011 budget it submitted to parliament on November 18.

Prime Minister George Papandreou’s Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) government has already raised the sales tax twice this year. Papandreou had pledged not to introduce any measures that would cause more hardship for ordinary Greek citizens — such as new taxes.

For the second week in a row, nurses held lunchtime rallies outside their hospitals in support of the NSW Nurses Association campaign for a mandated minimum nurse to patient ratio of 1:4 in public hospitals. This ratio has been mandated in Victoria for 10 years but NSW lags behind.

Lower ratios in NSW have meant poorer care for patients and have also placed nurses in danger.

The Venezuelan government said its “Smile Mission” social program has provided more than 96,000 adults with free dental care, including 34,600 with dentures, since its creation in 2006, Venezuelanalysis.com said on October 29.

Health minister Eugenia Sader said the dentures provided by the mission are primarily for people from the poorest sectors. “The Smile Mission helps recover the self-esteem of our patients and of the Venezuelan people”, Sader said. “This is quality free dental attention that the revolutionary government offers to our people in order to guarantee health to them.”

An outbreak of cholera has been documented in the area surrounding the lower Artibonite region of Haiti. There had been more than 2000 cases of acute watery diarrhea and 160 deaths reported by October 22.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness spread by drinking water containing the organism Vibrio cholera. Symptoms typically develop between one and five days after drinking water contaminated by the human feces of persons infected with the cholera bacteria.

A report by the government of Cuba, posted to the United Nations Relief Web website, said representatives of the Union of South American nations (Unasur — which unites all South American countries), met via teleconference on October 25 and agreed to commence emergency medical shipments to the areas of Haiti affected by the cholera epidemic, CanadaHaitiAction reported.

Ten countries took part in the conference: Argentina; Chile; Colombia; Peru, Venezuela; Bolivia; Uruguay; Paraguay; Brazil and Ecuador.

McDonalds will soon be trialling two lanes of drive through at some outer suburban restaurants to bring down its drive through wait time.

There are a number of reasons why some people in outer suburbs are becoming increasingly dependent on drive-through takeaway food.

Longer working hours, falling living standards and greater travelling distances have cut into the time, energy and money suburban working class families can devote to grocery shopping, meal preparation, sitting down to eat and washing dishes.

The campaign against savage cuts to public services in the recent South Australian budget is gaining momentum. More than 10,000 unionists rallied in Victoria Square on October 26 and marched through lunchtime crowds to Parliament House.

Nurses, prison officers and firefighters are among the many sectors angry at the cuts, which will cost up to 4000 jobs and affect vital services.

The following day, hundreds protested at Parliament House against cuts of $850,000 to the health budget, which threaten the viability of country hospitals at Keith, Moonta and Ardrossan.

A survey of 8800 Australian teenagers, carried out over 10 years by La Trobe University, has found that the number of young people having sex has risen. The proportion of sexually active year 12 women who reported having had sex with three or more partners in the previous year more than doubled to 27% in the decade to 2008.

Meanwhile, the NSW health department said in September that sexually transmitted infections (STIs), particularly chlamydia, were on the rise.

Over October 16-17, 120 people participated in lively and informative discussions at the Latin America Solidarity Conference.

“Challenging corporate globalisation: people’s power is changing the world” was organised by the Latin America Social Forum. LASF brings together the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN — Australia), Guatemala Human Rights Committee, Ibiray-Fondo Raul Sendic (Uruguay), Honduras’ National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network and Socialist Alliance.

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