Monday, March 25, 2013

Young Moms - the key to a healthier future

There are a group of people whom I believe to be the most important people in this world, and they're our young Moms: but to use an Australian colloquial expression, I also think that they're getting the wrong end of the pineapple! They're doing it tough and we need to work out how best to help them during those challenging first 5 years as parents.

The challenge to effect positive change is that "one size" will not fit all: what may work for the affluent parts of San Franciso or Perth, will not work in rural areas of say Africa or India, but the basic principals are the same: education, health and effective mentoring.

I want to start a conversation that leads us to better ways to support our "jeunes Mamans"*, especially those who are single or living in distressed areas, and the internet gives us an opportunity to provide that support.

There are some great educators in cyberspace who can provide culturally appropriate resources for their communities so that literacy and numeracy for young Mums can be improved - and better skilled mothers offers hope for smarter, healthier kids. There is a wealth of information about health issues too - the paradox being that so many in the affluent "west" need information on how to lose weight and yet millions of less affluent "others" needs information on how to provide basic nutrition for themselves and their children: wouldn't it be good for the "Health" of us all if one group could be connected to the other - ? As for mentoring, there must be literally millions of baby boomers with some time on their hands who can provide mentoring for young women in their communities or even those in other communities. Many "grey nomads" already are committed to providing new homes and schools for less well off cultures, perhaps this could be extended to exchanging emails as well?

Another challenge is to have some level of ethics for such an enterprise and here I am impressed by the 12 steps of AA where it's "success" is based on the fact that members need to recognize a "Higher Power", and I believe that for a great number of people this has resonance. There is no doubt that one program will not appeal to everyone, but every woman who is helped to improve their own health and education will have a huge impact on their children and their future life which has great significance for the whole world over time.

I want to start a conversation whereby we can develop a Web Based resource that can be adapted to local needs of each community. What do you think? How can we make a difference? What can we establish that can easily be handed on to the next generation so that we protect the most valuable members in our Communities - our "Madres jovenes"* and their precious children.

*young Moms


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Monday, March 11, 2013

CPR and beyond.

ECMO sounds like a drain cleaner sold by dubious door-to-door salespeople, but in fact it's an acronym for a machine that has been described as a "game changer" when it comes to heart resuscitation after a heart attack.

Extra Corporeal Membrane Transfer is the high highfaluting name of the machine, but in effect what it does is remove blood from a patients body, then remove the accumulated Carbon Dioxide from the blood, add in life-restoring Oxygen and then return the blood to the body. According to the report I read in the Australian Newspaper, the ECMO machine is widely available in SE Asia where it has been reported to have saved lives up to 7 hours after the patient was supposed to have "died"!

According to Dr Parnia who is releasing a book called "The Lazarus Effect", survival rates after a heart attack in America run at about 25 to 30% when simply CPR is used: whereas where the ECMO is used in Asia, then the survival rates run at about 70%, a result which the scientists would call "clinically significant"!

An ECMO machine is similar to the heart lung machines that are used in open heart surgery, but simplified and adapted for mobility purposes. According to Dr Parnia, these machines are "quick to fit, small enough to fit in an ambulance and relatively cheap". Although in the context of escalating health costs and the continuous challenge of where to allocate the Health Care $$'s, relative is a relative word!!

What ECMO does do is put into the spotlight is our current attitude of what works best,  and question what we mean by "best practice". For the general community - read you and me - we know that CPR is far from perfect, but not enough of us even know simple CPR despite the fact that it has been shown to save lives when used by lay people who have been taught the basic technique. CPR needs to be taught in school and refreshed in the community on a regular basis. As for ECMO, I have no doubt that in the hear future our Ambulances must be fitted with these advanced, simple to use machines, and we don't have to wait for Governments to pay for them. If you think that your "mid-life" spouse is worth saving for "old age", then why not form a local fund-raising group and talk with your Emergency Services to see if they can advance and adapt. Now there's a challenge for you!
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