Healthcare

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.
Venezuela’s representative in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Alfredo Missair, spoke on October 18 about Venezuela’s achievements in the field. He said that 14 million citizens (about half of the population) now have access to food at fair prices. On the TV show Desperto Venezuela, broadcast by VTV, Missair stressed the country is on track to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals of halving the proportion of the population that is undernourished.
The outcome of a trial against a Cairns couple for procuring an abortion has turned the tables on the Department of Public Prosecutions and the Queensland government. The Cairns jury swiftly returned a “not guilty” verdict on October 14 and the question now being asked is “what real crimes are exposed by this case?” For many, the real crime is the fact that the anti-abortion laws from 1899 have not been repealed.
Pip Hinman has been pre-selected to run for the Socialist Alliance in the NSW seat of Marrickville in the March state elections. She is an activist journalist and stood in the seat in 2007. Hinman was active in the pro-choice movement in Sydney and Brisbane in the 1980s and 1990s. Below, she responds to the October 14 not guilty verdict in the trial of the Cairns couple charged under Queensland’s abortion laws. * * * The not guilty finding of the young Cairns couple should be the impetus for the NSW government to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act of 1900.
We’re told that Australia is an egalitarian country. Our prime minister is a working-class migrant girl made good, while her predecessor was raised in regional Queensland by a single mother after the early death of his father. Anything is possible; our origins need not hold us back. A new report, linking health outcomes with social status, casts doubt on this. It concludes that those born poor are more likely to live in poor health during adulthood, and to die younger.
A new dictionary to help deliver health care to Yolngu people of East Arnhem Land was launched in Darwin on September 7. Linguist Marilyn McLellan and Yolngu translator Yurranydjil Dhurrkay from the Elcho Island community of Galiwin'ku have produced a dictionary of 200 medical and anatomical terms in English and Yolngu Matha. The dictionary has been produced and published by the Aboriginal Resource Development Services (ARDS), a not-for-profit organisation based in Nhulunbuy and Darwin.
On September 10, the commercial television regulator, Commercials Advice (CAD) withdrew approval for the screening of a pro-euthanasia ad by Exit International on September 12. Exit International condemned the decision as an attack on free speech. According to its website, Exit International is ”a leading end-of-life choices (voluntary euthanasia/ assisted suicide) information and advocacy organisation”.
Five families are suing Xstrata, the Queensland government and the Mt Isa council over alleged lead contamination. As part of their case, they commissioned US neuroscientist Theodore Lidsky to examine brain tests on Mt Isa children. His report found some Mt Isa children had brain damage from long-term exposure to lead, the families’ lawyer, Damian Scattini, told ABC News on September 17.
A special film screening will take place in Petersham, Sydney on September 28 to celebrate the graduation of the first 18 East Timorese students through Cuba's medical training aid program, which began in East Timor in 2003. The event will be presented by Dr Tim Anderson of the University of Sydney, who has followed the journeys of these doctors from the start. He will present his films The Doctors of Tomorrow and The Pacific School of Medicine, as well as footage from the recent graduation ceremony.
On July 28, the UN General Assembly passed a Bolivian resolution to make water and sanitation a human right. No country voted against the resolution, but 41 abstained. The following text is abridged from the speech to the General Assembly motivating the resolution by Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN. * * *

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