What is Malaria?

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a life-threatening blood disease caused by parasites transmitted to humans through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. Once an infected mosquito bites a human and transmits the parasites, those parasites multiply in the host’s liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells.

The disease can be controlled and treated if diagnosed early on. Unfortunately, this is not possible in some areas of the world lacking in medical facilities, where malaria outbreaks can occur.

Researchers are working hard on improving the prevention of malarial infection, early diagnosis and treatment, with just one malaria vaccine close to being licensed so far.

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Causes of malaria

Malaria is caused by the bites from the female Anopheles mosquito, which then infects the body with the parasite Plasmodium. This is the only mosquito that can cause malaria.

The successful development of the parasite within the mosquito depends on several factors, the most important being humidity and ambient temperatures.

When an infected mosquito bites a human host, the parasite enters the bloodstream and lays dormant within the liver. For the next 5-16 days, the host will show no symptoms but the malaria parasite will begin multiplying asexually.7

The new malaria parasites are then released back into the bloodstream when they infect red blood cells and again begin to multiply. Some malaria parasites, however, remain in the liver and are not released until later, resulting in recurrence.

An unaffected mosquito becomes infected once it feeds on an infected individual, thus beginning the cycle again.

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Symptoms of malaria

Symptoms of malaria typically last 6-10 hours and occur in cycles that occur every second day, although some strains of the parasite can cause a longer cycle or mixed symptoms. Symptoms are often flu-like and may be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in areas where malaria is less common. In areas where malaria is common, many patients recognise the symptoms as malaria and treat themselves without proper medical care.

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Malaria typically has the following progression of symptoms through cold, hot and sweating stages:

  • Sensation of cold, shivering
  • Fever, headaches, and vomiting (seizures sometimes occur in young children)
  • Sweats followed by a return to normal temperature, with tiredness.
  • Fever and chills
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Prostration (adopting a prone or prayer position)
  • Multiple convulsions
  • Deep breathing and respiratory distress
  • Abnormal bleeding and signs of anemia
  • Clinical jaundice and evidence of vital organ dysfunction.

Early diagnosis of malaria is critical for a patient’s recovery. Any individual showing signs of malaria should be tested immediately. If left untreated, malaria can be fatal. The aim of treatment is to eliminate the Plasmodium parasite from the patient’s bloodstream.

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Who is at risk?

 

Information used in this blog post has been supplied by doc-advice.com & medicalnewstoday.com.

50 Breast Cancer Facts

50 Breast Cancer Facts

Heed the warnings and debunk the myths…

1. One in 26 SA women is likely to get breast cancer across all race groups.
White South African women have the highest risk with one in 12 diagnosed positive, while the lifetime risk for coloured and Asian women is one in 18 and the risk for black women is one in 49.

2. “Being diagnosed with breast cancer is not a death sentence.”
Says Martha Molete, head of Communication and Advocacy at the Cancer Association of South Africa, “With all the advances in science, women today have a better chance of surviving breast cancer. But the key is finding the cancer early.”

3. Breast cancer can happen to anyone.
While there are women who are at higher risk, it is estimated that three quarters of women who develop breast cancer are not in the high risk category.

4. Breast cancer develops for many reasons, none of which are yet understood.
Family history is only one of them and is a relatively minor factor, being seen as significant in only five to 10% of cases

5. Breast cancer is not just a white disease.
Although white women have the highest lifetime risk in South Africa, increasing numbers of African women are being diagnosed with breast cancer. Due to increased awareness, more African women are going for treatment but many are presenting themselves at clinics very late, making treatment less successful.

Understanding breast cancer, 50 Breast Cancer Facts, Heed the warnings and debunk the myths

6. Black women have a lower incidence of breast cancer, but their mortality rate is much higher.
And the disparity is even more striking in younger black women. Pre-menopausal black women are twice as likely to get basal-like breast tumours – a particularly virulent form of breast cancer – than other women, either black or white.

7. Age is the enemy.
One of the biggest risk factors for breast cancer, aside from being female, is ageing. A woman of 30 has a one in 6 000 chance of developing breast cancer, but this increases tenfold to one in 600 by the time she is 50. Unfortunately you can’t do anything to stop yourself from growing older, but you can keep an eye on the health of your breasts. One woman in eight who live to 85 will develop breast cancer.

8. While breast cancer risk rises with age, breast cancer tends to be more aggressive when it occurs in younger women.
One type of breast cancer that is especially aggressive and occurs disproportionately in younger women is inflammatory breast cancer.

9. Women who have not had children have a greater risk of breast cancer.
as those who have children late in life, for example after the age of 30.

10. Breastfeeding reduces your risk.
Breast is best not only for the health of your baby. Studies have shown that women who breastfeed their babies have a lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

11. Starting periods young or having a late menopause can also increase your risk.
Onset of the menstrual cycle prior to the age of 12 and menopause after 50, increases the risk of developing breast cancer. This is because high amounts of oestrogen are in your body for longer.

12. Breast cancer is a mystery.
While experts have been able to pinpoint some risk factors, these only account for about 30% of all known causes of breast cancer. The remaining 70% are an unexplained mystery.

13. Breast cancer is many diseases.
What experts once thought was one disease is actually multiple diseases. The good news is that a greater understanding of breast cancer is slowly helping medical doctors to predict who needs more and who needs less treatment.

14. The key to breast cancer survival is early detection, so examine your breasts.
The sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the better your chances of beating it, so learn to do breast self examinations every month a week after your period.

15. You need to go for regular medical check-ups.
Go for annual medical check-ups with your doctor and ask for a breast examination.

Understanding breast cancer, 50 Breast Cancer Facts, Heed the warnings and debunk the myths...

16. The good news
“Death from breast cancer is a tragedy and going for mammograms and regular medical checkups can help detect cancers earlier,” says Dr Carol-Ann Benn, head of the Netcare Breast Care Centre of Excellence. “When breast cancer is detected early, before it invades tissues outside the breast, the survival rate is as high as 95%.”

17. Even women in their 20s and 30s should have an annual doctor’s examination.
It used to be recommended that younger women should be examined by a doctor every two or three years, but with the increase in young breast cancers an annual medical examination and ultrasound is a good idea, says Dr Benn.

18. 70% of all breast cancers are found through self exams,
but not all lumps can be detected through touch alone.

19. Screening mammograms have been shown to significantly reduce deaths from breast cancer in women aged 40 to 69.
From age 40, you need to have a mammogram every one or two years, and annually after the age of 50.

20. A biopsy can check the lump.
If a mammogram shows a lump that is concerning, you will be referred for a biopsy. A needle is used to take a sample from the lump which is sent to a lab to see if it contains cancer cells. Although scary, it’s a painless procedure.

21. Mammograms can detect breast cancer up to two years before it is large enough to be felt.
But be warned, this is not a comfortable experience! Your breast is flattened like a pancake between two plates so that X-rays can be taken of the tissue. Technique can help to make it more comfortable, so try and visit a specialist centre.

22. Breast cancer is not usually painful.
Most women are not very good about self examination and comfort themselves that a breast cancer lump would hurt, and this is not always so. Early breast cancer shows no symptoms and is not painful, which is why it’s important to self examine and have regular check-ups.

23. A lump is not the only symptom of breast cancer.
Lumps are not always bad news and maybe due to a blocked milk duct or a sebaceous cyst, but they should always be checked. Other symptoms include a change in the shape or position of the breast, puckering of the skin which can invert the nipple, a rash on the nipple or discharge from it.

24. Myth: Finding a lump in your breast means breast cancer.
The happy news is that eight out of ten lumps are benign (not cancerous.) Even so every lump should be checked by a physician immediately.

25. Fear should not keep you from checking the state of your health.
Sometimes women avoid having a medical examination because they fear what they might find. But ignorance is not bliss and neither is living in fear. Being vigilant can literally save your life.

Understanding breast cancer, 50 Breast Cancer Facts, Heed the warnings and debunk the myths

26. Treatment can be varied.
Treatment may include surgery, such as a lumpectomy, where the lump is surgically removed, a partial mastectomy which removes part of the breast, or a radical mastectomy, which removes the breast and lymph glands under the arm. This may be accompanied by chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs taken in pills or intravenously in a drip) or radiotherapy. Radiotherapy uses electromagnetic currents or waves to penetrate a tumour and kill its cells. Chemotherapy uses a cocktail of drugs to attack and kill tumour cells.

27. Breast cancer can be fatal.
Over 3 000 South African women die from breast cancer each year, but many survive and become role models for other women and other cancer patients.

28. Breast cancer is not your fault.
Some people believe that breast cancer is a punishment, due to witchcraft or past sexual behaviour. Cancer is no one’s fault.

29. More people are talking about breast cancer.
Twenty years ago it was taboo to talk about breast cancer. With more high profile people getting breast cancer, more people are able to talk about it and this increases awareness.

30. Know and touch your body from puberty.
In many cultures, it is still difficult to talk about your reproductive parts including your breasts, let alone touch them. We must teach our daughters and nieces to know their bodies and feel their breasts and check them every month from puberty.

31. You cannot catch breast cancer or transfer it to someone else’s body.
Breast cancer is the result of uncontrolled cell growth which starts in the breast and cannot be passed on to another person.

32. Two genes, BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, have been linked to hereditary breast cancer,
and women in families that have mutations of these genes have a much higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not. However not all people who inherit these gene mutations will develop breast cancer.

33. Is it in your family?
Breast cancer is seen to be hereditary in only five to 10 percent of cases. To link cancer to your family, an immediate relative needs to have had it and it should be linked to more than three generations.

34. Breast cancer has plagued women for centuries.
Breast cancer is one of the oldest known cancer tumours. Even the ancient Egyptians knew that breast lumps could be dangerous and should be removed. References to breast tumours or ulcers have been recorded on papyrus which dates back to 1600 BC.

35. Myth: mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread.
No matter what you may have been told, a mammogram X-ray and the pressure of its machinery on the breast cannot cause cancer to spread.

Understanding breast cancer, 50 Breast Cancer Facts, Heed the warnings and debunk the myths

36. A woman who exercises four hours a week reduces her risk of breast cancer.
Exercise pumps up the immune system and cuts your levels of the hormone oestrogen, which can fuel tumour growth.

37. A high-fat diet increases the risk of breast cancer
because fat also triggers the oestrogen. Fill your diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and low-fat nutritious foods.

38. Smoking increases your risk of cervical and other cancers.
Although smoking has not been directly linked to breast cancer, smoking decreases your survival chances once you have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

39. Go easy on animal protein.
Those with a diet high in animal protein have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

40. Breast cancer is not exclusively a women’s disease.
For every 100 women with breast cancer, one man will develop the disease. Due to the stigma, it is difficult for men to talk about it or to go for medical treatment.

41. Humans are not the only mammals prone to breast cancer.
The house mouse (mus domesticus) is prone to breast cancer which is caused by infection by a mammary tumour virus.

42. Myth: there is a link between the Pill and breast cancer.
There have been many studies done on the relationship between the oral contraceptive pill use and breast cancer, but these have failed to show that there is any real link. But it is used to delay pregnancy, which increases the breast cancer risk. There is a slightly increased risk of breast cancer for women who have taken birth control pills uninterrupted for long periods, such as five to ten years.

43. Hormone Replacement Therapy.
Women who suffer greatly from the side-effects of menopause often are prescribed hormone replacement therapy. However this does increase your risk of breast cancer.

44. Women in the West are more susceptible to breast cancer.
In Western societies 60 to 70 women for every 100 000 develop breast cancer, whereas 25 for every 100 000 Asian women do so. However when Japanese or Chinese women move to the USA or Australia for example, the rate rises to that of the West within two generations. This suggests an environmental influence, such as a high fat diet or alcohol use.

45. Alcohol plays a role in increasing risk.
More than two alcohol units a day increases your risk by 24%.

Understanding breast cancer, 50 Breast Cancer Facts, Heed the warnings and debunk the myths...

46. Being overweight or obese increases your risk.
Women who are overweight have an increased risk of cancer, especially breast cancer. This is due to the possible increased levels of oestrogen in overweight women.

47. Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol.
Drink plenty of fresh water each day to help flush out toxins and limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day.

48. Exercise is a winner for women getting over breast cancer.
Women who do aerobic exercise and resistance training enjoy better fitness and quality of life than their more sedentary counterparts, a new study at a Spanish University has shown. Previous studies had shown that cancer survivors can become stronger and less fatigued with aerobic exercise, but now it’s been proven that resistance training – like chest and shoulder presses, stomach crunches and leg and arm curls is very beneficial too.

49. Did you know that breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among SA black women, after cervical cancer and is the leading cancer killer among white women.

50. Tamoxifen, the pill that can prevent breast cancer in high-risk women, does not appear to save many lives in the long run,
according to researchers from the University of California. Tamoxifen, which is the only approved drug for preventing breast cancer in women who haven’t reached menopause, blocks oestrogen which can fuel the growth of tumours in some cases. But for women at the low end of the high risk group, the side effects outweigh the benefits as it can cause blood clots and uterine cancer.

Understanding breast cancer, 50 Breast Cancer Facts, Heed the warnings and debunk the myths...

www.cansa.org.za

 

The information in this post was provided by W24 and Cansa.

Employee Engagement & Organisational Culture

Employee Engagement & Organisational Culture

Understanding employee engagement is most valuable when understood within the context of the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation. If we look at employee engagement alone, without considering the culture that employees work in, we potentially leave ourselves blind to the strategic strengths and weaknesses in the organisation that impact employee performance and ultimately organisational performance.

The leaders and managers need to ensure that the characteristics of their organisation (their culture) serve to inspire employees to reach that heightened positive state toward their job and organisation we know as engagement. We believe employee engagement is an outcome of a healthy culture.

employee engagement and organisational culture

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their organisation. They don’t work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organisation’s goals.

Employee engagement focuses on developing and motivating employees to enhance work productivity. An employee’s attitudes and beliefs towards health and wellness can affect engagement. Incorporating the company’s mission and values into a Health and Wellness program allows employees to thoroughly understand the culture within the company and helps initiate the engagement process.

Health and Wellness programs are a tool for improving and supporting wellbeing and through wellbeing, employee engagement and overall happiness. Most important, if you’re looking to improve employee engagement, start with wellness. We believe wellness leads to engagement. Healthy, supported employees are good for the company, the community and the world.

employee engagement and organisational culture

Effective communication is essential to business success. At the most basic level, employees who don’t know what’s expected of them seldom perform to their potential. “You can tie back almost every employee issue — attendance, morale, performance, and productivity — to communication,” says Fred Holloway, an HR adviser in Medford, Oregon.

Communication to employees about strategy, targets, and initiatives is vital if employees are to contribute to the strategy. Communicating health education to employees can help effectively manage and prevent or improve the likelihood of illness and disease.

Some skeptics in the organisation will ask why wellness is important. This question comes from executives, as well as employees who do not understand how staying well contributes to the organisation as a whole.  It is imperative that employees understand that their health and well-being can enhance or hinder workplace productivity.

Group Business People Chatting Balcony Concept

Stakeholders will often pose the question, “What do I get out of this?” There are tangible and intangible benefits of a health and wellness program.  The benefits often include higher service, quality and productivity, fewer safety incidents, less absenteeism, better customer satisfaction which leads to increased sales, higher levels of profit and ultimately higher shareholder returns.

Ultimately, employee engagement cannot be achieved by a single action since there are different levels of engagement. Employee engagement and culture are now business issues, not just topics for HR to debate.

This post includes information from Corporate Wellness Magazine, Inc. & Dr. Arpankumar Janumalaa.

Good Health Habits – Washing Hands

Good Health Habits – Washing Hands

When your child is born whether it be your first or your 4th, your wish is for your child to be healthy and live a long prosperous life. Unfortunately for many children this is not possible.

Did you know that in 2016, 5.9 million children died before they reached the age of 5 years? Most of these deaths could have been prevented by something as simple and as easy as washing your hands with soap at key times during our everyday lives.

The theme for Global Handwashing Day 2016 is “Make handwashing a habit!”. A habit is something that you do regularly without really thinking about it. Why is washing our hands such a big deal?

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Did you know that one gram of poop can have 1 trillion germs living on it? And that those harmful germs are transferred to your fingertips. The amount of germs found on our fingertips after using the bathroom is shocking.

Did you know that handwashing reduces the spread of germs while handling food? A school teacher did an experiment with her class to show this.  This experiment can be done by anybody and is a great way to visually demonstrate the importance of washing your hands.

The teacher had three groups of children that prepared a sandwich. The first group washed their hands before preparing the sandwich and after. The second group did not wash their hands before preparing the food, but did wash their hands after going to the bathroom. The third group did not wash their hands before preparing the sandwich nor did they wash their hands after going to the bathroom.

The children noticed how the sandwich prepared by group 3 started going off and moldy very quickly followed by the second group and lastly the first group.

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When should we wash our hands? You should always wash your hands before handling food and after using the toilet.

By doing this you could save your and your family’s lives! Let’s make a pledge today to make handwashing a habit!

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www.globalhandwashing.org

 

Getting your products into the hands of the consumer

Getting your products into the hands of the consumer

Product Samples

Marketing and advertising are two domains that always change and adapt to the characteristics of the population and other social or economical factors. There are many ways to advertise something in the world today and one of the most popular and maybe the most efficient is through free samples.

People love the idea of getting something for free and they will almost always try that product just because they have the feeling of getting it for free. Usually, this method of advertising is done for products, although there are some cases where special services can be offered for free as a sample of the paid service, in order to attract customers.

Getting your products into the hands of the consumer

Why do samples work?

Samples take away risk. People hate risk. Risk aversion powerfully drives how we spend our money. We would rather live with lousy things that we are familiar with than take a risk to spend money and try something new.

We THINK samples just give us a chance to see if we like something – which sure, they do.  But even more powerfully, samples show us that we’re not going to throw our money away People are far more concerned about the possibility of wasting time and money than they are about missing out on something they’ll like.

Effect of free samples

Some might say that free samples induce feelings of guilt, reciprocity or even gratitude when getting something free, which then drives a purchase. Interestingly, research (study done at Stanford) has revealed that there’s a dopamine release with a sample, causing us to feel good about the said sample, but not satisfied. The promise of reward is what drives the purchase and satisfies the customer.

Getting your products into the hands of the consumer

Who is doing it?

In June 2013 Procter & Gamble hosted an enormous giveaway in New York City. Throughout Manhattan, company representatives handed out more than 40,000 products from P&G brands such as Gillette, Duracell, Scope, Febreze, Pampers, and Cover Girl. Simply getting these products into the hands of consumers is something of a success: After all, every person who tries out one of these products has the potential of becoming a lifelong customer.

Benefit of product samples

Raise awareness. People who have never encountered your brand before can experience it directly with a sample. Once they’ve tasted, touched, smelled, seen, or heard your product, it starts to make sense what you sell.

Creates a law of reciprocity. Most people feel a closer connection to a company when they’ve tried a sample product. It usually creates a law of reciprocity that, if they can’t actually use your product, they may think of someone who can. Everyone loves getting a gift. Let it be from your business, and be generous.

Get feedback and reviews. Whether it’s a new product line you need assessed by the public or you need people to start giving you valuable feedback to help populate your reviews and testimonial pages, samples help put the word out. Be transparent and let recipients know you’d appreciate their feedback. If one of your customers is a blogger, for example, this could help grow sales for that product.

The information used in this blog was provided by Time Magazine, Toltec Global Services, Psychology for Photographers & Practical Ecommerce.

Mental Health in Crisis Events

Mental Health in Crisis Events

Crises events occur daily in every community in the world, whether it is a natural disaster, war, terrorist attacks, disease outbreaks, large-scale displacement of people and communities or even individual events such as accidents, robbery, assault.

These crises events have physical, social and emotional consequences for those affected.  Immediately after such a crisis event, those who assist are usually first responders of various kinds (emergency medical teams, police, firefighters etc.) as well as family members, neighbors, teachers and community members.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

  • Provide non-intrusive, practical care and support.
  • Assess needs and concerns.
  • Help people to address basic needs (food, water).
  • Listen, but don’t pressure people to talk.
  • Comfort people and help them to feel calm.
  • Help people connect to information, services and social supports.
  • Protect people from further harm.

Mental Health in Crisis Events

THINGS TO SAY AND DO

  • Try to find a quiet place to talk and minimize outside distractions.
  • Stay near the person but keep an appropriate distance depending on their age, gender and culture.
  • Let them know you hear what they are saying, for example, nod your head and stay attentive.
  • Be patient and calm.
  • Provide factual information IF you have it. Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know. “I don’t know but I will try to find out about that for you.”
  • Give information in a way the person can understand – keep it simple.
  • Acknowledge how they are feeling, and any losses or important events they share with you, such as loss of home or death of a loved one. “I’m so sorry… ”
  • Respect privacy. Keep the person’s story confidential, especially when they disclose very private events.
  • Acknowledge the person’s strengths and how they have helped themselves.

THINGS NOT TO SAY AND DO

  • Don’t pressure someone to tell their story.
  • Don’t interrupt or rush someone’s story.
  • Don’t give your opinions of the person’s situation, just listen.
  • Don’t touch the person if you’re not sure it is appropriate to do so.
  • Don’t judge what they have or haven’t done, or how they are feeling. Don’t say…”You shouldn’t feel that way.” or “You should feel lucky you survived.”
  • Don’t make up things you don’t know.
  • Don’t use too technical terms.
  • Don’t tell them someone else’s story.
  • Don’t talk about your own troubles.
  • Don’t give false promises or false reassurances.
  • Don’t feel you have to try to solve all the person’s problems for them.
  • Don’t take away the person’s strength and sense of being able to care for themselves.

Mental Health in Crisis Events

PEOPLE DO BETTER IN THE LONG RUN IF THEY:

  • Feel safe.
  • Are connected to others.
  • Are calm & hopeful.
  • Have access to social, physical & emotional support.
  • Regain a sense of control by being able to help themselves.

 

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” – Martin Luther King Jr

The information in this blog post was provided by the World Health Organisation.

 

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