We have looked around to find the best Medical-Aid, Hospital Cover, Funeral Plans and Short Term Insurance, which satisfy our criteria. It only takes a few seconds to complete the inquiry form below and we will take the fuss and hassle out of it and we will contact you with a quote. You can also SMS your details to: 0827385586

We have looked around to find the best medical insurance cover which satisfies the above criteria. It only take a few seconds to complete the inquiry form above and we will take the fuss and  hassle out of it and we will contact you.

How to choose a medical aid

Most medical schemes have launched their benefits and contributions for 2017 and it is the time when you should be re-looking at your existing medical aid cover or, if you are wanting to join a scheme, investigating which one suits you best.

The medical aid landscape can be tricky to navigate so it is important to compare options and schemes to ensure you find a medical aid that works for you and your family’s health and is within your budget.

Dr Bobby Ramasia, Principal Executive Officer of Bonitas Medical Fund, helps guide you through choosing the best plan, whether it’s through the open market or through an employer.

If you are already on a medical aid scheme

Before you choose the best medical aid option, you need an idea of what your typical health care costs are.

You should also consider the following for you and your dependants over the past twelve months:

How much you spent on day-to-day healthcare expenses
Where you or any of your dependants admitted to hospital
Did you need to visit a specialist regularly
How much often do you or your dependants visit a GP
Do you and your dependants have any chronic conditions
How much do you spend on dentistry, optometry and over-the-counter medicine
Did you exhaust your day-to-day benefits and/or savings this year
How much did you pay in co-payments and/or deductibles
Then consider which of the expenses listed above were once-off and won’t come up again soon (like childbirth) and which are likely to come up again and again (such as flu).

You should be able to find a list of your medical claims on your current medical aid’s website.

The day-to-day detail:

Often the cost containment measures medical schemes apply for the day-to-day benefits are broad.

So investigate, or bear in mind, the following:

Does your medical aid contract with doctors and specialists and, if so, are you willing to use them? Using contracted or network doctors usually means obtaining full or improved cover levels, while using doctors outside of the network usually results in restricted benefits or co-payments. It also helps ensure you are getting more value for money as doctors on your medical scheme’s network will not charge you more than the rate agreed with your medical scheme.
Must you be referred to a specialist by your GP?
Does your medical aid offer additional GP consultations, which they will pay for, after you have exhausted your day-to-day benefits?
Does your medical scheme offer any additional benefits such as maternity, preventative care or wellness benefits that are paid from risk and not savings or day-to-day benefits?
You can also follow these tips to get more value for money:

Use generic medication wherever possible – get into the habit of asking your doctor and pharmacist about this
Try to keep your claims within any specified sub-limits, e.g. optometry
Find out if your option has any day-to-day benefits that are paid by the scheme from risk (not from your day-to-day sub-limits or savings). Two examples where this sometimes applies are dentistry and optometry.
Additional benefits:

Ask what supplementary benefits might be available to you that can potentially save significant day-to-day expenses.

These could include the following:

Preventative care benefits, ranging from basic screenings (blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index measurements) through to mammograms, pap smears, prostrate testing. In some cases this extends to maternity programs, dental check-ups, flu vaccinations and more. These usually require authorisation from the scheme, failing which they are simply met from your day-to-day benefit limits. A mammogram costs in the region of R900, so don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!
Age impacts your decision

If you have young children, ensure that the medical aid option you select provides sufficient child illness benefits.

For young couples looking to start a family, check that your option provides sufficient cover for maternity benefits.

However, if you are slightly older then ensure that the option you select covers chronic conditions and provides sufficient in-hospital cover in the event of hospitalization.

Ensure the affordability of the medical aid plan selected

When comparing the different medical aid options available, consider all the costs involved before you make your final decision, such as:

The monthly contributions, as a rule of thumb, you medical aid contributions should not exceed 10% of your monthly income at an individual or household level
Other costs associated with your medical aid option e.g. if your option only allows consultations with doctors on a network, then you must ensure that the cost of travel to a network doctor (including hospitals and other healthcare service providers)
The cost of co-payments for various benefits claimed. A medical aid co-payment is a fee that the member is liable for when making use of certain medical services. The medical aid would not cover 100% of the costs and the member would have to pay for a certain percentage of the medical service before the medical aid pays their portion.
These co-payments usually apply to specialist or elective medical procedures.

This will differ from one medical aid scheme to another.

It is one of the reasons why you should always do thorough research before deciding which medical aid scheme is the best option for you.

The ideal option would of course be the one that does not require many or any co-payments from the member.

Enjoyed this post? Share it!


The most expensive and cheapest medical aids in SA for 2017

The latest GTC Medical Aid Survey for 2017 has been released, which compares local medical aid schemes on cost to members across various levels of cover.

According to GTC, medical aids are complicated schemes, and comparing them is an almost impossible task; however it has developed a review process that compares schemes across specific categories, rather than on specific services offered.

For its 2017 review, GTC screened 23 medical aids (22 open and 1 closed scheme) offering 144 plans.

The rankings in the GTC Medical Aid Survey are based on the concept of a total cost or a risk rating for each medical aid plan.

This risk rating is derived from a risk premium, which represents the premium paid monthly minus the allocation to what is known as the ‘savings’ or out-of-hospital account.

“This approach removes any differences in personal circumstances, priorities or behaviours that may influence an individual’ eventual healthcare costs,” the group said.

The savings have not totally been discarded, however, and have been included in a separate column in the tables below.

Comprehensive and hospital plans are slightly different, where the medical aids are ranked by their complete cost (assuming that costs for the year are all only at 100% of the medical aid rate).

The plan categories include:

  • Entry Level (in and out-of-hospital benefits within very defined networks and formularies),
  • Hospital Only (in-hospital cover only),
  • Saver (out-of-hospital provided by benefits or savings account),
  • Saver Plus (two separate savings accounts, separated by a self-payment gap) and
  • Comprehensive (unlimited above threshold benefit)

The full report also includes core and student entry level schemes as well as traditional schemes.

These are the top and bottom 5 medical aids in each category, for a single member.

Schemes marked with [*] indicate they for state-only hospital cover. Salary-banded schemes (i.e. prices vary depending on a member’s specific income) show the salary band in parenthesis.

# Plan Complete Cost

  • Makoti Primary* R239
  • Momentum Ingwe* R560
  • Discovery KeyCare Access* R644
  • Momentum Ingwe R701
  • Fedhealth Blue Door Plus R776
  • Medihelp Necesse R1 404
  • CompCare Wellness NetworX R1 614
  • Momentum Access R1 842
  • Bonitas Primary R1 924
  • Hosmed Access R2 124

Entry-level – mid-salary

# Plan Complete Cost

  • Makoti Primary* R530
  • Momentum Ingwe* R641
  • Discovery KeyCare Access* R859
  • Suremed Explorer R860
  • Momentum Ingwe R892
  • CompCare Wellness NetworX R1 614
  • Medihelp Necesse R1 656
  • Momentum Access R1 842
  • Bonitas Primary R1 924
  • Hosmed Access R2 124

Hospital plan

# Plan Complete Cost

  • Profmed ProActive (R0 – R5 000) R635
  • Genesis Private Choice R1 000
  • Profmed ProActive (R5 001 – R9 000) R1 049
  • Discovery Essential Smart R1 100
  • BestMed Beat1 Network R1 131
  • Discovery Classic Core R1 918
  • Medshield MediCore R1 926
  • Momentum Custom R2 059
  • Bonitas Hospital Plus R2 636
  • Selfmed Med Elite R4 406

Saver plan

# Plan Risk Rating & Savings

  • BestMed Beat2 Network R1 161;  R2 856
  • Topmed Active Saver R1 270;  R2 904
  • BestMed Beat2 R1 290;  R3 168
  • Commed Shina (R0 – R6 000) R1 348;  R1 798
  • Fedhealth Maxima EntrySaver R1 376;  R3 168
  • Bonitas BonClassic R3 648;  R6 192
  • KeyHealth Gold R3 729;  R9 158
  • Cape Medical Plan HealthPact Select R4 698;  R3 600
  • Profmed ProPinnacle R6 007;  R16 000
  • Momentum Summit R7 637;  R22 300

Saver Plus plan

# Plan Risk Rating & Saving

  • Medimed Medisave Standard (R0 – R8 500)   R495 ; R13 980
  • Medimed Medisave Standard (R8 501 – R13 000) R570;  R14 280
  • Medimed Medisave Standard (R13 001 – R17 000) R788;  R15 150
  • Medimed Medisave Standard (R17 001 +) R923;  R15 690
  • Discovery Essential Priority R1 240;  R15 734
  • BestMed Pace3 (R8 209 +) R3 082;  R24 180
  • CompCare Wellness Pinnacle R3 269;  R24 713
  • Spectramed Cobolt R3 355;  R23 588
  • BestMed Pace4 R3 580;  R30 196
  • Commed De Luxe R4 715;  R13 050


# Plan Compete Cost

  • Fedhealth Maxima Standard Elect R1 899
  • Fedhealth Maxima Standard R2 486
  • Momentum Extender R2 799
  • 4 Discovery Essential Delta Comprehensive R2 899
  • Discovery Classic Delta Comprehensive R3 045
  • Discovery Executive R4 158
  • Bonitas BonComprehensive R5 254
  • KeyHealth Platinum R6 036
  • Fedhealth Maxima Plus R6 369
  • Fedhealth Ultimax R8 736

A full, detailed breakdown of GTC’s rankings can be found in the full report.

Source: Businesstech


Enjoyed this post? Share it!


Pryse vir kankermedikasie word ondersoek

Suid-Afrikaanse kankerpasiënte en hul geliefdes het die mededingingskommissie se besluit om drie farmaseutiese maatskappy se pryse vir kankermedisyne te ondersoek geloof, en versoek dat die ondersoek so spoedig moontlik afgehandel moet word.

Die mededingingskommissie het vroeër die week aangekondig dat hulle die internasionale farmaseutiese reuse Aspen, Pfizer en Roch ondersoek omdat die maatskappye na bewering kankermedisyne teen buitensporige hoë pryse

“Ons besef dat kankermedisyne heeltemal onbekostigbaar vir die meeste Suid-Afrikaners geword het. Meeste mediese fondse weier ook eenvoudig om vir die soort medisyne te betaal omdat dit so duur geword het,” het Shipo Ngwema, woordvoerder vir die kommissie, gesê.

Die kommissie het gesê hulle gaan hulself toespits op die farmaseutiese sektor omdat beweerde prysvasstelling verreikende negatiewe gevolge vir die kwesbare en armste mense van die samelewing het.

Borskanker is een van die soort kankers wat die meeste Suid-Afrikaanse vroue opdoen. Roche verkoop Trastuzumab as Herceptin en Herclon in Suid-Afrika. Die medikasie word onder meer deur die Wêreldgesondheidsorganisasie vir borskankerpasiënte aanbeveel.

ʼn 12 maande-kursus van dié soort medikasie in die plaaslike privaatsektor kan meer as R500 000 of selfs meer beloop indien ʼn pasiënt ʼn hoër dosis van die medikasie benodig. Die mededingingskommissie voer aan die buitensporige koste van die medikasie beteken dat die meeste vroue met hierdie soort kanker nie die medisyne kan bekostig wat hul lewens moet red nie.

Pfizer se pryse vir longkankermedikasie is ook onder soeklig. Die kommissie voer verder aan dat Aspen die Suid-Afrikaanse mark vir kankermedikasie oorheers en hierdie posisie in die mark misbruik om die pryse vir kankermedisyne soos Leukeran, Alkeran en Myleran kunsmatig en buitensporig hoog te hou.

“Die saak is van groot belang en die drie ondersoeke sal met die nodige dringendheid en omsigtigheid hanteer word. Die kommissie besef daar is talle pasiënte wat afhanklik is van hierdie medikasie,” het Ngwema bevestig.

EWN het intussen berig dat die Italiaanse howe die farmaseutiese reus Aspen ʼn boete van €5,2 miljoen plus rente opgelê het nadat ʼn appèl wat handel oor die maatskappy se verspreiding van onkologiese produkte in die land die week van die hand gewys is. Daar is bevind dat Aspen die Italiaanse mark oorheers
en sy posisie in die mark misbruik het om pryse met die land se medisyne-reguleerder te onderhandel.

Salome Meyer, ʼn onafhanklike konsultant verbonde aan Cancer Alliance, ʼn organisasie wat nie-winsgewende kankerorganisasies verteenwoordig, het die ondersoek van die kommissie ook verwelkom.

“Vir te lank moes Suid-Afrikaners die prys betaal vir verouderde patentregte wat toegang tot bekostigbare kankerbehandeling verhoed. Die kankermedikasie is ʼn baie winsgewende sektor in die gesondheidsorg en dit sal my nie verbaas as daar meer as drie farmaseutiese maatskappy hierby betrokke is nie,” het Meyer gesê. Sy voel ook dat kankermedikasie in Suid-Afrika onbekostigbaar is.

“Soveel as 84% vandie bevolking kan nie toegang tot hierdie medikasie bekom nie,” het Meyer gesê.

Prof. Michael Herbst, ʼn spesialisnavorser van die Kankervereniging van Suid-Afrika (Kansa), het in ʼn onderhoud aan die radiostasie Talkradio
gesê die soort medikasie wat by die ondersoek betrek word, is beslis noodsaaklik vir kankerpasiënte.

“Die soort medikasie is generiese medisyne wat eintlik veronderstel is om goedkoper te wees as die oorspronklike produkte. Die maatskappye kom vorendag met ʼn nuwe soort medikasie.
Hulle verkry patentregte daarvoor, maar sodra die regte verval, kom ʼn maatskappy soos Aspen in, neem die resep vir die medikasie en vervaardig dit in groot maat,” het hy verduidelik.

Herbst reken die feit dat die medikasie op so ʼn groot maat vervaardig word of generies is, beteken nie goedkoper medisyne vir plaaslike pasiënte nie.

Hy het verder gesê hy kom byna daagliks te hore van pasiënte wat nie ʼn mediese fonds het en die nodige kankermedikasie kan bekostig nie, terwyl kankerpasiënte met mediese fondse soms ook ʼn tweede of ʼn derde verband op hul huise moet uitneem om vir dié soort medikasie te betaal.

Shauneen Beukes, groepkommunikasiebestuurder van Aspen, het gesê die maatskappy sal sy volle samewerking aan die kommissie verskaf.

Sy het egter benadruk dat Aspen nie verantwoordelik is vir die vasstelling van medikasie se pryse nie.

“Dit is ʼn hoogs gereguleerde en omvattende proses en word deur die departement van gesondheid beheer. Die departement stel al die pryse
vas vir alle farmaseutiese produkte. Aspen voldoen aan al die vereistes in die verband en pas ons medikasie se pryse aan in ooreenstemming
met die departement se enkeluitvoerprysbeleid soos wat dit van tyd tot tyd uitgereik word.”

Beukes het gesê die DA het Aspen vroeër vanjaar ook van prysvasstelling beskuldig, maar die aanklag is teruggetrek nadat die party hulleself
vergewis het van die streng maatreëls wat deur die departement beheer word.

Johnny Moloto, woordvoerder vir P􀃗zer Suid-Afrika, het gesê hulle respekteer die prosesse wat die kommissie met die ondersoek van stapel
gestuur het en sal ook hul volle samewerking aan die kommissie verskaf.

“Pfizer verskaf egter nie longkankermedikasie teen die prys van
R152 000 per 250 mg soos die kommissie in hul mediaverklaring beweer nie. Ons hoop die kommissie sal ons binnekort kontak sodat ons die pryse van die produk met hulle kan opklaar.”

Aadila Fakier, hoof van kommunikasie by Roche, het gesê hulle het deur die media verneem van die kommissie se planne om die maatskappy te ondersoek vir die prys van Trastuzumab, Roche se borskankermedikasie.

“Ons sal ook ons volle samewerking tydens die ondersoekproses verskaf. Ons is vol vertroue dat die pryse van ons farmaseutiese produkte ooreenstem met die streng regulatoriese raamwerk van Suid- Afrika.”

Die woordvoerder van die departement van gesondheid, Popo Maja, is gevra om te bevestig of die departement verantwoordelik is vir die prysvasstelling van medisyne, wat kankermedikasie insluit. Daar is egter ten tyde van die plasing van die artikel nog nie terugvoer oor die navraag ontvang nie.

Enjoyed this post? Share it!


Non-invasive scan for liver disease

In the past the only way to measure a liver’s elasticity was through a biopsy, but now, a non-invasive alternative has emerged, whereby elasticity of a patient’s liver can be measured using vibration-controlled transient elastography (VCTE).

Adopted as a frontline tool for assessing liver fibrosis by the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) and by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the FibroScan VCTE liver stiffness testing system generates a shear wave that travels through the liver and the speed of which is measured by ultrasonic signals. The stiffness of the liver is proportional to the speed of the shear wave.

Dr Naayil Rajabally, who has been using the system in his rooms since early 2016, says if the test reveals fibrosis, treatment can begin without any need for the liver biopsy in conditions such as viral hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), alcoholic liver disease and cholestatic liver diseases. “If we can measure fibrosis, we can attempt to change the natural course that leads to liver disease.”

Quick and painless

From a patient’s perspective, the scan is quick and painless, and feels much like an ultrasound. Following a three-hour fast the patient lies on their back, the doctor applies a gel to the skin, locates the intercostal space between the ribs and applies the scope.

This ‘wand’ sends a series of pulses into the liver, which provide 50Hz shear wave speed measurements. At the same time, the system measures ultrasound attenuation rate in the same 3cm3 region of the liver. This provides a 3.5MHz ultrasound coefficient of attenuation (controlled attenuation parameter, or CAP), which allows the doctor to quantify how much fat is in the liver (steatosis). ‘A conventional ultrasound would have only been able to tell us if there was steatosis provided there is more than 33% of fat in the liver, but with the screen fat infiltration can be detected earlier,’ says Rajabally.

“The use of VCTE is indicated in a range of fields with more than 1,200 peer review articles to support this,” he says, including assessing liver fibrosis resulting from the cumulative use of the immune system suppressant methotrexate used in dermatology, and in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Diabetes can result in an increased disposition to developing fatty liver. About 60 to 80% of diabetics will have some form of fatty liver disease. Now not all of these patients will end up with progressive liver disease, but a sizeable proportion will end up with some form of liver disease, which can progress, adds Rajabally. Identifying these individuals can be extremely valuable, as they may benefit from a more intensive glycaemic control.
Source: Mediclinic Southern Africa

Enjoyed this post? Share it!


Healtcare Services Delivery need to change in Africa

Healthcare services delivery in Africa needs to change, but no-one is quite certain how. What is certain is that future trends will be driven by access to big data, to shape new models of care in driving innovative, affordable and accessible services, across this diverse continent.

With 1,2bn people, many enjoying a longer life, and the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) there is a growing recognition of the importance of digital innovation in delivering curative and preventive care.

“The transition to digital healthcare offers opportunities to aggregate patient data from multiple sources – for example, from external healthcare providers and specialists who consult to the patient – to give them a single, accurate patient profile.

“This allows healthcare professionals to quickly connect all the dots in a patient’s care, with a view to focusing on optimum outcomes for the patient.In fact, a study in the Journal of Neurology found that putting a digital core at the heart of a healthcare provider, can result in 40% faster checking of medical records during preparation and post-processing of ward rounds in hospital,” says Charmaine Odendaal, healthcare practice lead at SAP Africa.

The continent is characterised by pockets of healthcare excellence, despite each country in Africa being faced with specific challenges. The focus is on the public health system being required to deliver healthcare services that improve patient outcomes at the most optimal cost. But, adds Odendaal, it is essential to recognise that many citizens in Africa live outside urban centres. “We believe that technology will make a real difference in supporting the access to care. From testing to remote patient monitoring to helping patients navigate the healthcare system with digital services. Empowering patients and communities to take an active role in monitoring and managing their health.”

Advances in cancer screening

The power of using a technology platform to improve the delivery of care to patients in Africa was brilliantly illustrated by the Emerging Technologies in Cervical Cancer Screening (ETiCCS) solution, developed by the Heidelberg University Hospital and leveraging SAP’s technology platform. ETiCCS focuses on identifying women at risk of cervical cancer and delivering end-to-end care by leveraging a cloud-based platform that makes data entry simple and access to patient data and test results immediately available to medical professionals – no matter where they are.

For Odendaal, the success of ETiCCS is further proof of the key role that technology can play in addressing the continent’s healthcare challenges. “Our technology powers more than 50 healthcare providers across Africa, and nearly 8,000 globally. We are using the global best practice learned from customers worldwide and adapting it to the African context. This puts the continent’s healthcare industry in a great position to leapfrog some of the problems experienced by the more developed markets to fast-track the delivery of connected healthcare to African citizens.”

Retaining scarce healthcare talent

Digital transformation is enabling healthcare professionals to reimagine their work. Physicians are increasingly becoming the facilitators of care across the entire care process, while nurses assume greater responsibility by leaving routine tasks to automated systems and focusing on being personal caregivers.

Odendaal says that the shortfall in global healthcare professionals means doctors and healthcare staff are often overworked. “The issue of overworked doctors is a global challenge for the healthcare profession and made headlines in South Africa recently, when it emerged that some junior doctors were working up to 300 hours per month.

“New digital tools allow hospitals to automate repetitive administrative tasks and allowing their healthcare professionals to get the most from their professional training and focus on patient care. With such intense competition for healthcare talent at a global level, allowing doctors and specialists to focus on their highest-value activities – diagnosis, treatment, care – puts hospitals in a great position to attract and retain scarce skills.”

Enjoyed this post? Share it!


Vitamin D Deficiency

If you shun the sun, suffer from milk allergies, or adhere to a strict vegan diet, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to sunlight.

It is also occurs naturally in a few foods — including some fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks — and in fortified dairy and grain products.

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, because it helps the body use calcium from the diet. Traditionally, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets, a disease in which the bone tissue doesn’t properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. But increasingly, research is revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of health problems.

Symptoms and Health Risks of Vitamin D Deficiency

Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle. Yet, even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks. Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the following:

Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Cognitive impairment in older adults
Severe asthma in children

Research suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including type1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency can occur for a number of reasons:

You don’t consume the recommended levels of the vitamin over time. This is likely if you follow a strict vegan diet, because most of the natural sources are animal-based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, fortified milk, and beef liver.

Your exposure to sunlight is limited. Because the body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, you may be at risk of deficiency if you are homebound, live in northern latitudes, wear long robes or head coverings for religious reasons, or have an occupation that prevents sun exposure.

Enjoyed this post? Share it!


South Africans are urged by dietitians to ‘Eat Fact Not Fiction’ June 2017

Nutrition advice promising all sorts, from weight loss to healthier living and even cures for diseases, spread like wildfire across social media. In the era of ‘alternative facts’ and post-truth, ‘the latest, greatest nutrition advice’ from dubious sources can unfortunately tempt many away from accepted dietary guidelines and recommendations based on years of evidence.

‘Eat Fact Not Fiction’ is the theme of Dietitian’s Week 2017, highlighting the important role of dietitians who are able to interpret nutrition science and dietary guidelines in order to customise nutrition advice for each individual. This is vital because from weight loss to a disease like diabetes, there is no ‘one size fits all’ best eating plan. Dietitians happen to be health professionals trained and qualified to do this.

Dietitians and evidence

In the course of earning their degrees in the science of dietetics, dietitians are specifically taught the skills required to interpret scientific evidence. In order to maintain their professional registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), all practising SA dietitians also have to undertake ongoing studies that ensure they keep up with the latest knowledge provided by new and emerging evidence, in accordance with the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme. This means they have the latest evidence-based food, health and disease expertise at their fingertips – and you won’t find a registered dietitian in the country basing any recommendations on the long outdated food pyramid.

Dietitians and the food-based dietary guidelines

The country’s broad strokes dietary guidelines, on which public health messages are based, and which were developed according to the process recommended by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), have also evolved over the years, featuring a notable shift from the emphasis on nutrients to the focus on actual foods, which by nature contain a variety of nutrients. ADSA, the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, provides further clarity on the guidelines with its statement on the Optimal Nutrition for South Africans. The latest visual Food Guide from the Department of Health provides a very different picture from older models such as the Food Pyramid and represents the latest FAO recommendations.

Dietitians and patients

But the reality remains that diet is highly personal. What we eat is rooted in our culture and tradition, shaped by affordability and accessibility, and inextricably intertwined with highly variable lifestyle factors such as weight, physical activity, emotional connection to food and our consumption of non-food substances, as well as various physiological differences and genetics.

“This is where the dietitian comes to the fore,” says ADSA President and Registered Dietitian, Maryke Gallagher. “If you take a disease such as diabetes, which is a prevalent lifestyle disease in the country, and is a condition that can be managed through diet, each patient needs a tailor-made plan and focused support to make their individualised diet work towards their well-being and health. When the situation demands change around something as fundamental to life as food, then broad strokes are not necessarily sustainable solutions.”

Dietitians and sustainability

The role that the dietitian can play in helping the communities in which they work to secure healthy food systems that are good for both people and the planet is an emerging responsibility in the profession. Dietitans are increasingly involved in facets of our modern food systems including agriculture and alternative food production methods, natural resources and ecosystems, social justice and community health issues, as well as developing food policy and food systems research that takes sustainability into account.

Dietitians and diseases

Some may associate dietitians with merely giving advice and support to someone who wants to lose weight, but dietitians work across a range of industries. They are also experts in providing nutritional advice with regard to serious diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, liver disease, kidney disease, cancers, HIV/AIDS, TB, throat, stomach and intestinal disorders, as well as food allergies and intolerances, eating disorders, sports nutrition and life-stage nutrition (including the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding as the best start in life). Apart from dietitians in private practice, they work in hospitals and communities, academia and industries. In addition to consulting with patients, dietitians are also involved in research, nutrition training and development of provincial and national policies.

Dietitians and malnutrition

In South Africa, where the health issues that arise from the obesity epidemic stand side by side with those resulting from undernutrition, our dietitians’ work literally spans from one extreme to another. The South African Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (SASPEN), a supporter of Dietitian’s Week, highlights the essential role the dietitian plays in providing nutritional support to promote optimal nutrition to people in hospitals, where malnutrition is a common cause of the exacerbation of disease, delayed healing and prolonged hospital stays.

The dietitian and you

It’s clear, that as a country, our need for dietitians is multi-fold, which explains why there’s a lot more than just dietary guidelines on the mind of a registered dietitian. In consultation, your dietitian is going to be taking in many factors unique to you to work towards helping you make optimal food choices. This includes your age and gender; your genetics, body size and body image; your environment, culture, spiritual beliefs and family life; physical activity level, mental well-being and general abilities; your work life and patterns; your budget; food preferences, eating tastes and cooking skills; as well as your existing health conditions and prescribed meds.

In the hopes of steering us clear of the latest trumped up ‘diets’ and promoting a return to genuine expertise and evidence, dietitians countrywide are suggesting that we ‘Eat Facts Not Fiction’.

In collaboration with the British Dietetics Association, Dietitian’s Week is held in SA from 12-16 June, with the 2017 theme ‘Eat Fact Not Fiction’.

Enjoyed this post? Share it!


This Popular Children’s Medication ‘Is Basically Crystal Meth’ Warns Doctor

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.”(1) It’s characterized by three key traits: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

This condition, as well as ADD (attention deficit disorder), are diagnosed by observing behaviors. There is no medical test, such as blood tests or a brain scan, capable of diagnosing the condition.

Because of the vague nature of the qualifying characteristics that lead to an ADHD diagnosis, many kids are being unnecessarily medicated. In fact, many children who experience ADHD symptoms are simply experiencing behavioral issues that stem circumstances in their life at home and at school. Other medical conditions may also be responsible for their behavior.

What to Know Before Medicating your Child
Although increasing amount of children are medicated for ADHD, not all doctors believe the condition exists.

According to Dr. Tasneem Bahtia, a board-certified physician, acupuncturist, and nutritionist:“ADD and ADHD are the result of neurotransmitter and neuroendocrine imbalances. The four main imbalances include high norepineprine and cortisol, dopamine dysfunction, serotonin deficiency, and insulin irregularity. Each of these imbalances is rooted in nutritional deficiencies that with correction, improve symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. Food allergies and intolerances also contribute to malabsorption of nutrients.”(2)

Others, like Chicago neurologist and ADHD specialist Dr. Richard Saul, believe the condition is a cluster of symptoms that stem from more than 20 other conditions, including depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (3).

While ADHD is typically diagnosed in children aged 6-12 who’ve experienced symptoms for 6 months or more, adults are being increasingly diagnosed too (4).

But this trend may also be due to the overdiagnosis and misdiagnosis of misbehaving children. When children are given ADHD drugs, especially if they do not truly have the condition, it can cause serious psychological disorders. In fact, an article published in the American Journal of Psychiatry expressed concerns regarding increased severity of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in individuals who were prescribed ADHD stimulant drugs in childhood (5).

Stimulants drugs are not approved for children of 2-6 years old. Despite this, between 0.51% to 1.23% of children between theses ages are being treated with stimulants in the USA, according to Medicaid statistics (6).

The National Institute of Mental Health states that “under medical supervision, stimulant medications are considered safe”, so physicians and parents continue to Medicaid preschool-aged children to make them more obedient and calm. However, studies show that there’s are significant cardiovascular risks of using a stimulant drug to treat AHDH (7). The FDA even recommends that “Patients treated with ADHD medications should be periodically monitored for changes in heart rate or blood pressure.” (8)

In a recent interview on MSNBC, drug abuse and addiction expert Carl Hart of Columbia University even stated that “There isn’t much difference between the demonized street drug methamphetamine (also known as meth or crystal meth) and the prescription drug Adderall.”(9)

Typical ADHD Medication
Children diagnosed with ADHD are typically given the following prescription medication (10):

Stimulants such as amphetamine (Adderall or Dexedrine) and methylphenidate (Concerta, Metadate CD, or Ritalin), which reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity to improve focus.
Atomoxetine (Strattera), a nonstimulant medication.
Clonidine (Kapvay) and guanfacine (Intuniv), nonstimulant medicines that treat aggression, inattention, and impulsivity.
Ritalin, perhaps the best known ADHD drug of all, has serious side effects. It’s estimated that 2.5 million children in the United States are taking medication for the condition (11).

Worse of all researchers led by Madelyn Gould of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University in New York City found that out of a group of 564 children and teens who died suddenly were 7.4 times more likely than not to have been taking stimulant medications. This may be due to the drug’s effect on the cardiovascular system.

Ritalin treatment has many common side effects, including (12,13):

Abdominal Upset
Stomach pain
Loss of appetite
Weight loss
Emotional ups and downs
Insomnia and dizziness
Emotional sensitivity
Muscle tics or twitches
Nervous habits
Ritalin is also addictive, and withdrawal can lead to depression, disturbed sleep, malnutrition, cardiovascular complications, and stroke (14).

Amphetamine, like methylphenidate, can be habit-forming.

Serious side effects of amphetamine include (15):

Chest pain
Trouble breathing
Feeling like you might pass out
Fast heartbeat
Rapid breathing
Unusual thoughts
New behavior problems
Feeling irritable
Feeling pain or cold
Unexplained wounds
Skin color changes in your fingers or toes
Changes in your vision
Unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness

More common side effects include:

Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite
Diarrhea, constipation
Weight loss
Mood changes, feeling restless or nervous, sleep problems (insomnia)
Dry mouth, unusual or unpleasant taste in the mouth
Runny nose, nosebleeds
Increased heart rate
Headache, dizziness
Impotence and sexual problems

In light of all these side effects, are these drugs truly suitable for children?

Enjoyed this post? Share it!


Genesis wins case on accounting for use of medical savings funds

On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court ruled that all funds paid by members to their schemes should be considered as assets, regardless of their intended use.

Genesis medical scheme has won its legal battle with the Council of Medical Schemes over how to account for the funds in members’ medical savings accounts (MSAs), a development that has potentially far-reaching implications for both the industry and consumers.

This technical accounting point will make a material difference in the way schemes calculate their solvency ratios that measure gross income against reserves.

Treating MSA balances as assets means schemes’ reported solvency ratios will improve, because funds accumulated in MSAs will now be considered as part of a schemes’ reserves, said Insight Actuaries joint CEO Barry Childs.

This is important because better solvency ratios mean less pressure on schemes to increase premiums.

The judgment overturned a high court ruling that the council has used for the past decade as basis for instructing the industry to regard the money in an MSA as being held in trust and protected from creditors if a scheme was liquidated. The council had also directed schemes to pay interest earned on MSA funds to members.

The judgment means that medical schemes can now retain the interest, and if a scheme is liquidated the funds in a member’s MSA are not protected from creditors.

Council spokeswoman Elsabe Conradie said the most important aspect of the judgment was that the members’ MSA could no longer be ringfenced from being accessed by creditors. The last scheme to be liquidated was Renaissance, about seven years ago, she said.

Genesis marketing manager Elmarie Jensen said the scheme’s trustees were still studying the judgment.

Board of Healthcare Funders head of benefit and risk Rajesh Patel said it was unlikely that schemes would stop paying MSA interest to their members as it would cause immense reputational damage.

The council’s position was based on its interpretation of a 2007 high court ruling on medical scheme Omnihealth, which was liquidated in 2005. The high court held that MSA funds constituted trust property and therefore did not fall into Omnihealth’s insolvent estate.

The council’s registrar used this ruling as the basis for rejecting Genesis’s financial statements in 2013. Genesis launched an application to review the registrar’s decision, arguing the Omnihealth judgment was an error of law that had materially influenced the registrar’s decision. Its contention was upheld by the Western Cape High Court, but subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal. It then took the matter to the Constitutional Court.

Enjoyed this post? Share it!


Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

It’s no wonder these kinds of treatments are popular — we still have no cure for colds or the flu. While the flu vaccine may prevent the flu, and some prescription medications may shorten its symptoms, most conventional medications just ease symptoms. Many natural remedies can give you short-term relief as well, and a few may help you get better. See which ones show the most promise.

This herbal supplement may boost your immune system and help fight infections. But it’s unclear whether that helps you fight off colds. Most evidence shows echinacea doesn’t help prevent a cold, but some research found it shortens symptoms by a day or two. Other studies say it has no effect. To try it, take it when you start to feel bad and continue for 7 to 10 days.

Some studies show it helps fight viruses, like the cold. They say the mineral stops certain proteins from forming before cold viruses can use them to reproduce. While zinc doesn’t appear to prevent colds, it may help shorten their length and lessen the severity if you take it within 24 hours of the first symptoms. You should continue to take zinc for five days. The FDA says not to use zinc nasal products for colds — some people say they had a permanent loss of smell.

Vitamin C
Its cold-fighting powers remain uncertain. Some research suggests it can cut cold symptoms short by about a day, but an analysis of multiple studies showed that only people on daily vitamin C at minimum doses of 200 mg each day who were under extreme physical stress were significantly less likely to get a cold. Taking vitamin C only after the start of symptoms has not been shown to be helpful.

Chicken Soup
Grandma was onto something. Chicken soup may help cold symptoms in more than one way. Inhaling the steam can ease a stuffy nose. Sipping spoonfuls of it can help replace the fluids you lose. The warm, salty broth can alleviate sore throats.

Hot Tea
It offers some of the same perks as chicken soup. Breathing in the steam relieves congestion, while swallowing the fluid soothes your throat and keeps you hydrated. Black and green teas have the added bonus of being loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants, which may stave off colds, as well.

Hot Toddy
This adult drink is an age-old nighttime cold remedy. Since you won’t want to drink black tea and all that caffeine before bed, make a cup of hot herbal tea. Add a teaspoon of honey, a small shot of whiskey or bourbon, and a squeeze of lemon. This mixture may ease congestion, soothe your throat, alleviate your cough, and help you sleep. Limit yourself to one — too much alcohol can keep you awake.

It’s long been known as a germ fighter. And one study showed garlic supplements may help prevent colds when taken daily. But more research needs to be done to figure out its real effects. It does have nutrients, and in food form it can also help spice up your meals when a stuffy nose makes everything taste bland.

Breathing in steam can break up congestion in your nose, offering relief when it’s stuffy or runny. You can get a heavy dose from a room humidifier, fill a bowl with hot water and lean over it with a towel over your head, or simply sit in the bathroom with the door shut and a hot shower running.

Saline Irrigation
Dripping or spraying saltwater into your nose can thin out the gunk and help you get rid of it. That makes you less stuffy. You can try over-the-counter nasal saline washes, or make your own. Mix 8 ounces of warm water with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Use a bulb syringe to squirt the liquid into one nostril while you hold the other one closed. Repeat 2-3 times and then do the other side.

Neti Pot
You can use the same DIY saline solution in this gadget. It lets you flush out your nasal passages with a saltwater solution. The result is thinner mucus that drains more easily. Research suggests Neti pots can ease symptoms like congestion, pressure, and facial pain, particularly in people with ongoing (chronic) sinus troubles. The Neti solution also comes in a bottle with a nozzle that goes in your nose and generates the force to flush your sinuses.

Menthol Ointment
Days of wiping and blowing your nose can leave the skin around your nostrils sore and irritated. A simple remedy is to dab a menthol-infused ointment under (but not in) your nose, or on your chest or throat. The menthol vapors relieve a cough and open clogged passages, which eases your congestion. But don’t use it on raw skin and don’t give it to children under age 2.

Saltwater Gargle
This may help your sore throat by decreasing throat swelling and rinsing out irritants and germs. Gargle warm water with a teaspoon of salt four times daily to keep a scratchy throat moist.

Nasal Strips
You wear these strips of tape on the bridge of your nose to open the nasal passages. While they can’t get rid of the stuffiness, they do create more space for airflow. That can help relieve nighttime congestion.

Let Your Fever Work
It’s the original natural remedy. The rise in temperature fights colds and the flu by making your body too hot for germs to live. But if it makes you uncomfortable, it’s fine to take something to treat it. Drink plenty of liquids, too. Call your doctor right away if your temp is over 104 F, unless it comes down quickly with treatment. For an infant who’s 3 months or younger, call your doctor for any fever over 100.4. Children with a fever of less than 102 usually don’t require treatment unless they’re uncomfortable.

Bed Rest
Who has time to spend a day or two under the covers? But when you get plenty of rest, your body can direct more energy to fighting off germs. Staying warm is also important, so tuck yourself in and give your immune system a leg up.

Enjoyed this post? Share it!