What’s causing your cough? As irritating as it may be, coughing is the body's way of ridding the lungs and airways of foreign substances and mucus.1 Coughs can, however, make breathing difficult and irritating. Being aware of the cause of your cough will help you treat it quickly and effectively, and help restore health. The first step? Knowing whether the culprit's a bacteria or a virus. Bacteria are tiny single-celled organisms. Not all bacteria are bad – there are beneficial bacteria living inside our bodies that help with essential functions.1 Viruses are also microscopic beings, but they behave differently to bacteria. Viruses flourish inside a living organism and can live for a brief period of time outside their host – like hovering in the air right after a person coughs. But in order to multiply they need to settle inside a host.1 Viral vs bacterial Viral coughs are caused by viruses which inflame the throat or lungs and can last up to three weeks without treatment. However, the body can fight the infection if the immune system is strong enough. Viral coughs develop over a day or two and typically worsen after two to three days. 2 They affect the throat (larynx), main airway (trachea), or the airways leading into the lungs (bronchi) – and can lead to laryngitis, tracheitis, or bronchitis.2 Bacterial coughs mainly attack the upper respiratory tract – the nose, throat and bronchi. 3 A bacterial cough usually results in a chest infection, whooping cough or – in extreme cases – tuberculosis (TB) or pneumonia. 3 Bacterial infections can usually be identified with a doctor's test. For example, a throat test can check for the presence of the streptococcus bacteria. What to look out for Most viral coughs clear with ease – and a little help from an effective cough medication. However, a secondary infection with germs (bacteria) can develop, which lead to more serious conditions like pneumonia. It’s also easy to confuse other causes of a cough (like . . .
More than a quarter of individuals who joined the public service in 2016 also joined the family of South Africa’s largest restricted medical scheme, the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS), which is now extending more care to more people than ever before. “With close on 695 000 principal members and 1.83 million dependants by the end of last year, GEMS is looking to build a brighter future by making a positive difference in the health and productivity of the nation,” says Zandile Nqweni-Chamane, Acting GEMS’s Executive: Member Affairs. The Scheme’s focus on the health and wellbeing of its members is reflected in its impressive ratio of non-healthcare expenditure. For every R100 GEMS receives in contributions, R94.90 is spent on members’ healthcare needs. “Our membership profile shows that we are young and healthy, with an average age of 31 years. As our GEMS family is growing, we have had to develop new and innovative ways to keep in touch with our members, their needs and their wants, including through Facebook, our Client Liaison Officers (CLOs), call centre and self-help kiosks,” she adds. During 2016, GEMS’s CLOs, who visit government departments, offices and units throughout the country, provided face-to-face assistance to over 221 449 members in 16 077 site visits. Over 80% of the issues raised during CLO interactions were successfully resolved on site. “We have been using a number of different methods to reach out to members and one of our focus areas is educating the membership about the Scheme and how they can work with us to get the best out of GEMS. To this end, GEMS hosted 6 700 educational sessions. In order for us to better understand the needs of our members, we held 165 focus group sessions,” Nqweni-Chamane notes. “This two-way communication flow has been extremely helpful, and allowed the Scheme to reach out proactively to help empower our members with the information they need to make healthy life choices and maximise their . . .
Suit Up Soweto! The Superhero Tour is here The Color Run kicks off its much anticipated Superhero Tour in Soweto this April JOHANNESBURG – The Color Run’s inaugural Superhero Tour is bringing a power-packed 5km fun run to the streets of Soweto. The NB stuff: Who: You Where: UJ – Soweto Campus – Chris Hani Road Orlando, Soweto When: 23 April 2017 Time: 10h00 Once again, Capitec Bank joins The Color Run as the headline sponsor on the South African leg of the largest event series in the world. This year the quirky theme encourages runners young and old to step into spandex and don capes and masks while participating in the happiest 5K on the planet. “We are unleashing everyone’s inner hero,” says national event co-ordinator, Trevor Latimer. “Participants are encouraged to use The Color Run as a platform for good. Whether it’s raising awareness for a good cause or raising funds for charity or even simply acknowledging that you live with Supermom, this year we celebrate the Superhero in us all.” Less about your 10-minute-mile and more about having the time of your life, The Color Run is a five-kilometre, un-timed event in which thousands of participants, or “Color Runners”, are doused from head to toe in different colours at each kilometre. With only two rules, the idea is easy to follow: 1. Wear white at the starting line! 2. Finish plastered in colour! “The world debut of The Superhero Tour will be happening in Soweto, South Africa,” says Charl Nel, head of communications at Capitec Bank. “We are encouraged by being a part of this movement that has inspired thousands to put on their takkies, get active and support their communities across South Africa and the world, The Color Run is known as The Happiest 5K on the Planet – and it’s easy to see why.” After Color Runners complete the race, the fun continues with an unforgettable Finish Festival. This larger than life party is equipped with music, dancing and massive colour throws, which . . .
• Three winners, chosen by expert panel at Wired Health 2017 in London, identified innovative approaches to address access challenges in Ghana, the Maldives and the Philippines. • Winning ideas proposed novel ways to use mobile technologies to connect patients with caregivers and essential medicines • Sandoz invited young people worldwide to “reimagine access to healthcare” – arguably the largest unmet medical need South Africa, March 13, 2017 – Sandoz, a Novartis Division, announced today the three winners of the inaugural Healthcare Access Challenge (Sandoz HACk). The winners, chosen by a panel of judges at the Wired Health 2017 event in London, identified innovative approaches to address challenges in Ghana, the Maldives and the Philippines. The winning ideas all proposed novel ways to use mobile technologies to connect patients with caregivers and essential medicines, addressing access issues specific to their country but with the potential for solutions to be applied elsewhere. The three winners were chosen from six finalists, out of a total of approximately 150 ideas submitted from 30 countries. All six presented their ideas to a panel of judges at Wired Health 2017, as part of the HACk “Live in London 2017” event. Announcing the winners, Sandoz CEO and Division Head Richard Francis said: “Despite all the advances in modern medicine, universal access to healthcare is still arguably the single largest unmet medical need for people around the world.” He added: “We believe that the biggest changes often come from amazing, small ideas – and that the only thing standing between a good idea and a great idea is often just a bit of support at the right time. I see the future of medicine being driven by strong collaboration between healthcare companies and external partners. The Sandoz HACk is one way that we are trying to make this vision a reality.” Roberto Ascione, CEO of Healthware International and a member of the Sandoz HACk 2017 judging . . .
A practical technology solution being rolled out across the country is bringing the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) closer to its members, and placing members in the driving seat. “In order to better cater to the service needs of our growing membership base, GEMS found an innovative solution that enables members and prospective members to easily interact with the Scheme through convenient GEMS Self-Help Kiosks,” explains Liziwe Nkonyana, GEMS Executive: Communications and Member Affairs. “So far we have rolled out 72 GEMS Self-Help Kiosks, which have assisted an average of 18 000 members per month. The first phase of GEMS Self-Help Kiosks were installed at GEMS Walk-in Centres, and we have expanded this service to government departments, pharmacies and other locations that are accessible for members.” The GEMS Self-Help Kiosk allows members to access their tax certificates, request membership cards and retrieve membership certificates, check their savings balance and claims history, as well as access the GEMS service provider network and view their benefit option. “We have specially-trained GEMS Ambassadors on hand to assist members to use the GEMS Self-Help Kiosk in various official languages. Members of the public service can learn more about GEMS and apply to join the Scheme using the Self-Help Kiosks,” Nkonyana adds. “The great advantage of this development is that members are able to access these services directly, in person, with a friendly GEMS Ambassador to guide them where necessary. The feedback has been very positive, and many members are choosing to use this method of interacting with the Scheme for logging queries and requests. “We have tried to position the kiosks at locations that are convenient for members, and we will increase the national footprint so that soon the majority of our members will be able to take advantage of the benefits of the GEMS Self-Help Kiosk.” One particularly popular service available via the . . .
Cape Town – Ascendis Health, the high growth health and care brands group, is to purchase the southern African veterinary operations of Cipla India for R375 million. Cipla Vet (companion animals) and Cipla Agrimed (commercial animals) sell a range of high quality animal medicines. The business was established in 2004 and the sale follows the decision by Cipla India to divest its southern African veterinary operations to focus on human health care only in South Africa. Ascendis Health CEO Dr Karsten Wellner said the Cipla animal health businesses provide an excellent strategic fit with the Ascendis Phyto-Vet division which focuses on animal and plant health products. “The acquisition will enable Ascendis to expand into the attractive veterinary pharma market, with high margin products in strong growth segments. The new business will complement our presence in the pharma industry and Phyto-Vet’s biosciences business, while adding therapeutic products to our portfolio which is an area where Ascendis has not had a strong representation in the past,” he said. Cipla Vet sells through over 1 000 outlets including vet practices, vet shops, equine stores and wholesalers. The business has a strong presence in antibiotics, and endo- and ectoparasiticides, with key brands including Triworm and Petcam. Cipla Agrimed has a leading position in antimicrobials and endectocides in South Africa which are sold mainly through agri-co-operatives, tenders and directly to farmers. Dr Wellner said currently only about 10% of Cipla’s veterinary sales are generated through export into Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Angola. “This provides an excellent opportunity for synergies through Phyto-Vet’s existing African network. The Cipla products will also support Phyto-Vet’s planned expansion into new African markets and the further internationalisation of the business.” Cipla Vet and Cipla Agrimed reported a combined profit after tax of R31 million in the year to March 2016, . . .
There are few things more beneficial to a person’s health than a strong and trusting long-term relationship with one doctor. “Some individuals mistakenly believe that having several doctors, rather than building a solid relationship with just one, will make them healthier,” says Dr Vuyokazi Gqola, Executive: Healthcare Management of Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS). “This logic is flawed because consulting many different doctors, which is sometimes referred to as ‘doctor hopping’, means that none of them have your full medical history and records. When you are ill and seeking a diagnosis from one of several doctors, they are not provided with the full picture of your overall general state of health’’. “If the doctor you visit for a particular illness is not your only doctor, they may not have all in the information they need to make an informed and accurate diagnosis. Your doctor needs to be aware of your family’s medical history, all medicines you may be taking and, preferably, your previous illnesses dating back to childhood,” she explains. According to Dr Gqola, doctor hopping can be extremely dangerous, particularly if the patient does not present all this important information at the start of their appointment. Going through your full medical history may be time consuming, and sometimes patients may forget one or two details that could be vital for a trained medical professional, but may seem unimportant to the patient. “If you routinely stick to one doctor, also known as a family practitioner, they would know if, for example, your blood pressure tends to be lower than average. This could possibly be a physical trait that runs in your family, which your own doctor would recognise as not being a symptom of the illness you are seeking treatment for’’. “However, if you are doctor hopping and consulted a new doctor who did not know this about you, they may base their diagnosis of the illness on the fact that your blood pressure is . . .
You’re feeling ill. You visit the doctor, pick up a script and head to the pharmacy to collect your meds. The person in front of you in the queue just came from the doctor too. And they have the same script. Once you’ve both taken your medication, you’ll feel an equal improvement, right? Wrong. Due to slight genetic variations in your DNA, you might metabolise and process the medication you’re taking differently to the person in front you. The ingredients in the pills you’re taking might stay in your body for three hours longer. They may have much more serious side effects. Or they may have no effect whatsoever. You’d probably never know – except you’d never feel quite right, and could have chronic side effects while taking the medication. But you should learn to live with the side effects, right? Wrong again, fortunately. Most patients put up with frustrating side effects, simply because they think they have to. But with a little more knowledge of their DNA, they could be working with their doctor to find a tailored solution with far higher likelihood of working. And to a large extent, leaving ineffective meds and unwanted side effects behind,. Distinct DNA difference Molecular biologist and founder of DNAlysis Biotechnology, Dr Daniel Meyersfeld, believes most South Africans simply aren’t aware of the various ways their unique DNA affects metabolism of medication. “Many patients don’t respond to the first drug they’re prescribed in the course of treatment. A trial and error approach is frustrating and expensive, so why not use genetic information to streamline the process?” says Meyersfeld. “By conducting a simple genetic test, patients and doctors can now work towards enhancing the safety and efficacy of their treatment and avoiding unpleasant side effects.” Warfarin – the way forward Meyersfeld speaks specifically of Warfarin as a stellar example of prescription that should be tailored to the individual. Warfarin is the anticoagulant of choice . . .
Suaad Majavie and Denise Adriaan were among the UCT Private Academic Hospital staff members who celebrated the facility's 15th anniversary. Suaad and Denise have been with the hospital since it first opened its doors in 2002. The landmark UCT Private Academic Hospital, one of the Cape Town’s most highly respected medical treatment and training facilities, celebrates its 15th anniversary this month. Jacques du Plessis, managing director of the Netcare hospital division, congratulated the facility’s management, staff and the medical professionals practising there on attaining this milestone. According to Du Plessis, UCT Private Academic Hospital (UCTPAH) is today not only one the best known centres for medical care in the Western Cape, but also one of South Africa’s most important specialist training facilities. Du Plessis explains that the 112-bed UCTPAH is a joint venture with the University of Cape Town’s Health Science Faculty, Groote Schuur Hospital with which it shares some facilities, and Netcare. UCTPAH was initially established by the University of Cape Town (UCT) with its business partners, for the purpose of providing a platform for retaining skilled medical staff, enabling training, and providing a service to private patients. “The collaboration by the different institutions has ensured a strong cross pollination of ideas, which has taken forward our knowledge of medicine in South Africa. It has also enabled the hospital to develop strong relationships with the public and teaching sectors, which benefits both private and public patients alike,” he adds. “The concept of the hospital itself has been pioneering and the result is a success story. UCTPAH demonstrates how the private, public and educational sectors can cooperate to not only make quality healthcare more accessible to South Africans, but also contribute to advancing critical medical skills in the country.” UCTPAH general manager, Lieselle Shield, says: “The management, staff and medical . . .
Being diagnosed with cancer is a daunting experience and most patients appreciate all the support they can get to deal with the challenges of diagnosis and treatment. It is for this reason that the cancer support group, Hold my Hand, has been established at Netcare Clinton Hospital in Alberton, Johannesburg. The manager of the oncology centre at Netcare Clinton Hospital, Pogiso Tlholoe, says that in addition to appropriate medical treatment, social and emotional support can greatly assist patients in dealing with the disease and its treatment. “Netcare Clinton Hospital is therefore pleased to partner with support groups such as Hold my Hand, an outstanding initiative which was started at the hospital by cancer survivor, Claire McLoughlin. Through various means, including counselling, the organisation aims to ensure that oncology patients do not feel alone and unsupported,” notes Tlholoe. According to Tlholoe, 4 February was World Cancer Day and the hospital’s oncology centre, together with Hold my Hand and the Cancer Angels Network, commemorated it through a special function held at the facility recently. “The aim of World Cancer Day is to make the public more aware of, and educate them on the scourge of cancer and the causes, signs, symptoms and treatment of all forms of the disease. The early detection and treatment of cancer saves lives, so this is a most worthy cause and one that is fully supported by Netcare Clinton Hospital. “Hold my Hand is a support group for cancer patients by cancer patients, and was established at the hospital to mark World Cancer Day a year ago on 16 February 2016,” explains Tlholoe. “We therefore took the opportunity to commemorate both World Cancer Day and the establishment of this important support group, which has already touched the lives of many oncology patients.” “Claire McLoughlin was a patient at the hospital and felt that there was a great need for a support group for both newly-diagnosed cancer patients as well as those . . .