Category Archives: health

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2nd Heart Attack Grill Victim?


Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2nd Heart Attack Grill Victim?

For the second time in two months, a customer at Las Vegas‘ Heart Attack Grill collapsed mid-meal and was carted off to a hospital.

The female customer, a Las Vegas resident in her 40s, had been devouring a “double bypass burger,” puffing on cigarettes, and sipping a margarita when she collapsed Saturday night, the Grill’s owner told ABC News.

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Mad cow disease found in one Central Valley bovine


Cattle

Cattle (Photo credit: CameliaTWU)

Health officials say the diseased cow never entered the human food chain and U.S. dairy and beef products are safe. It is the first confirmed case in the U.S. since 2006.

The first confirmed case of mad cow disease in the U.S. since 2006 surfaced in California’s Central Valley on Tuesday, triggering concerns about food safety. But health officials stressed that the diseased animal never entered the human food chain and that U.S. beef and dairy products are safe.

Unnatural Selection and killing off girls in Indo-Canadian / Asian Families


With all of the controversy over a the Washington Center for Reproductive Medicine, I thought it would be good to look at the following book. Remember the movie Gattaca? Unlike those who believe in “weeding out imperfection”, what happens in communities that prefer boys or girls? Please take time to read and review the following book “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men”.

Book: Unnatural Selection

GlobalMedic – Rahul Singh has joined Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2010


My sincere congratulations goes out to Rahul Singh, who is now one of the most influential people in the world. Truly an Angel walks among us!

Signed: @iammannyj

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Global Medic

Rahul Singh – Global Medic

Indo—Canadian paramedic Rahul Singh has joined US president Barack Obama, talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and Apple boss Steve Job in Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2010.

The Toronto—based paramedic, who founded GlobalMedic in 1998 to help disaster—hit people, has been the face of Canadian relief efforts around the world, including the quake—hit Haiti, in the past 10 years. Calling his on—going relief work in Haiti “a shining example” of “selfless effort”, the magazine said, “Singh and his group of volunteers wasted no time in arriving in Port—au—Prince and setting about providing clean drinking water and medical aid wherever it was needed.

“Over an eight—week period, his team distributed 2.4 million gallons of clean water, while GlobalMedic’s two inflatable field hospitals brought medical assistance to more than 7,000 people. They also trained a local team of Haitians to take over the work, and right now that is just what they are doing.”

Speaking to IANS, Montreal—born Rahul Singh said, “I am excited to get on Time’s list. But this recognition is not about me, it is about our volunteers.”

Singh, whose parents migrated to Canada from Delhi’s Maharani Bagh, said he founded GlobalMedic after seeing the ravage caused by mudslides in Nepal in 1998.

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The worst environmental disaster in a century? Gulf Coast oil spill…


As we watch the effects of the inevitable oil spill transpire in the Gulf Coast we have to ask ourselves yet again, is it worth it?

Any ocean oil extraction process using a drilling rig has a risk factor attached to it. This risk factor is not a question of “if” but “when” will the disaster occur.

Just imagine the devastation that is occurring right now in the Mexican Gulf and ponder what such a catastrophe would mean if it happened here. A 5,000-square-kilometre oil slick sits just 80 kilometres off the shores of America and Mexico. How many innocent creatures has it killed? How long will the after-effects of such a huge contamination be felt?
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Ont. health agency scrutinized for contract tendering practices


Ont. health agency scrutinized for contract tendering practices

‘Taxpayers are really getting ripped off’: PC leader

An Ontario health agency has doled out nearly $5 million in contracts without any apparent attempt to open up the deals to outside bidders, documents obtained by CBC News show.

EHealth Ontario has come under scrutiny for its spending practices. (CBC)Contracts valued at about $4.8 million were signed off by eHealth Ontario’s CEO and president, Sarah Kramer, during the first four months of the newly formed agency’s operation, according to documents obtained by the Progressive Conservative party through a freedom of information request.

A letter regarding the request states that no procurement documents for consultant services were located “because none were created.”

EHealth was quietly set up eight months ago by the Liberal government, with the merger of the e-health program at the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA), an agency once mired in questions over its own operations.

The agency is tasked with developing a digital record system by 2015 to allow health-care providers to electronically share patient information to prevent medical errors and reduce costs.

Kramer defended her organization’s procurement policy, saying the quick transition period and the amount of money being invested in eHealth justified single-sourcing the contracts in many cases.

“It is appropriate and it’s under most policies in public and private sector to bring in sole-source vendors when you need to do something very quickly and you need some specialized services,” Kramer said.

A procurement expert said contracts should be open to competition unless they involve legal services, an urgent circumstance or a patented product unique to a single supplier.

Examples of some of the most lucrative contracts handed out during the first months of eHealth’s operation were $915,160 to health-care consulting firm Courtyard Group, and two contracts in a single day to Accenture Inc. that topped $1 million.

All but one of the listed consulting contracts surpassed $100,000, the cutoff at which provincial agencies are required to put a contract out to tender in order to ensure a fair and open playing field for companies.

No evidence has been found that the contracts were tendered on Merx, Ontario’s designated website for such government agreements.

Kramer’s spending

Hiring outside consultants also would allow eHealth Ontario to skirt the so-called “sunshine law” that requires provincial agencies to publicize the names of employees with salaries of $100,000 or more.

Sarah Kramer is the CEO and president of eHealth Ontario. Sarah Kramer is the CEO and president of eHealth Ontario. (CNW Group/eHealth Ontario)The agency already employed 164 people whose annual salary topped $100,000 in 2008, according to its website.

Documents show Kramer earns a base salary of $380,000 and received a $114,000 bonus in March, about five months after her start date.

The next month, Kramer announced in a memo that the company was cutting back on employee bonuses.

“After considerable discussion, we have decided to proceed with merit and bonus payouts, but scale them back to reflect current economic realities and the organization’s performance this past year,” the memo states.

Receipts also show Kramer spent at least $800 on limousine rides, including one priced at $408 from her home to London, Ont., and a couple in Boston.

Kramer came under scrutiny for her expenditures in early April when opposition parties complained about the $51,500 she spent on her new office furniture, a cost defended by Health Minister David Caplan as a startup cost typical to new agencies.

Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter has been probing spending at eHealth and its predecessor, SSHA, since late last year. His findings are scheduled to be published in his annual report this December.

Interim PC Leader Bob Runciman called for the health minister to explain the apparent lack of competitive bidding for the projects and called the expenses upsetting given the economic downturn.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s all sorts of problems with this agency where taxpayers are really being — I think it’s not going overboard to say — getting ripped off by this agency and their practices,” Runciman said.

Alberta consultants flown in

Spending at eHealth and its predecessor swelled to more than $800 million in the past six years, while the date for release of its electronic patient health records has been pushed back three years to 2015.

SSHA was blasted in January 2007 when an operational review done by Deloitte Consulting said it lacked a strategic plan, had a poor reputation among the health-care community it was supposed to serve and was not being held accountable by Queen’s Park.

Set up in 2002, SSHA also struggled to move away from a dependence on consultants. A 2004-2005 annual report documents “intense” efforts to reduce reliance on consultants by doubling permanent staff.

Media reports suggest SSHA spent about an average of 17 per cent of its budget each year on consultants.

Also, two of eHealth’s consultants — Allaudin Merali and Donna Strating — are listed as senior vice-presidents on the agency’s website but live in Alberta, with their regular commute into Ontario funded by taxpayer dollars.

Documents released Wednesday show each charges about $2,700 a day for their services. The two also bill the agency for regular flights, accommodation in Toronto plus a per diem for meals and other costs. Among the receipts are two $3.26 bills for a muffin and can of pop.

The total cost for the two amounts to about $1.5 million a year.

EHealth’s CEO defended the costs of flying two consultants in, saying Alberta has the “best record in eHealth in the country.”

“They’ve come in and really helped us get back on board and start moving forward. So we’re paying market rates for people who are the best and the brightest in the business,” Kramer said.

Close ties

Questions are also being raised about a further $1 million in apparently untendered contracts awarded in the early months of the agency’s transition to Courtyard Group, on top of the single $915,160 deal.

Michael Guerriere, a managing partner of Courtyard Group, was also named as eHealth’s interim senior vice-president of strategy at one point, and billed more than $3,000 a day as a consultant.

Guerriere’s wife, Miyo Yamashita, heads another firm, Anzen Consulting, that benefited from more than $300,000 in eHealth contracts.

Yamashita charged about $300 an hour for communications advice and services that included:

  • Reading New York Times articles on diabetes and electronic health records from her husband.
  • Reviewing Kramer’s holiday voicemail greeting and confirming details for a seasonal party.
  • Debriefing during a chat on the subway.

If you have information on this story, send an email to yournews@cbc.ca.

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Marrow transplant may have cured AIDS, German doctors say


Provided by: The Canadian Press
Written by: Patrick Mcgroarty, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Nov. 12, 2008
BERLIN – An American man who suffered from AIDS appears to have been cured of the disease 20 months after receiving a targeted bone marrow transplant normally used to fight leukemia, his doctors said Wednesday.

While researchers – and the doctors themselves – caution that the case might be no more than a fluke, others say it may inspire a greater interest in gene therapy to fight the disease that claims two million lives each year. The virus has infected 33 million people worldwide.

Dr. Gero Huetter said his 42-year-old patient, an American living in Berlin who was not identified, had been infected with the AIDS virus for more than a decade. But 20 months after undergoing a transplant of genetically selected bone marrow, he no longer shows signs of carrying the virus.

“We waited every day for a bad reading,” Huetter said.

It has not come. Researchers at Berlin’s Charite hospital and medical school say tests on his bone marrow, blood and other organ tissues have all been clean.

However, Dr. Andrew Badley, director of the HIV and immunology research lab at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said those tests have probably not been extensive enough.

“A lot more scrutiny from a lot of different biological samples would be required to say it’s not present,” Badley said.

This isn’t the first time marrow transplants have been attempted for treating AIDS or HIV infection. In 1999, an article in the journal Medical Hypotheses reviewed the results of 32 attempts reported between 1982 and 1996. In two cases, HIV was apparently eradicated, the review reported.

Huetter’s patient was under treatment at Charite for both AIDS and leukemia, which developed unrelated to HIV.

As Huetter – who is a hematologist, not an HIV specialist – prepared to treat the patient’s leukemia with a bone marrow transplant, he recalled that some people carry a genetic mutation that seems to make them resistant to HIV infection. If the mutation, called Delta 32, is inherited from both parents, it prevents HIV from attaching itself to cells by blocking CCR5, a receptor that acts as a kind of gateway.

“I read it in 1996, coincidentally,” Huetter told reporters at the medical school. “I remembered it and thought it might work.”

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The deadly asbestos trade


Asbestos is a mineral with long, thin fibrous crystals. The word asbestos (῾ἀσβεστος) is derived from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable. The Greeks termed asbestos the miracle mineral because of its soft and pliant properties, as well as its ability to withstand heat.

Asbestos is known to have toxicity. The inhalation of toxic asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis (also called pneumoconiosis). Since the mid 1980s, many uses of asbestos have been banned in many countries.

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Canada’s deadly trade in asbestos

by Mark Bourrie

Canada is starting work this summer on a billion dollar project to renovate its parliamentary buildings and cleanse them of asbestos, which has been found to cause cancer.

The project will take six years to complete but, in the meantime, Canadian government agents are still pushing exports of the fibre. Canada even has gone so far as to argue a challenge at the World Trade Organization that a proposed French ban on asbestos imports would be an illegal trade practice.

Despite recent warnings that asbestos was the cause of 500,000 cancer victims in western Europe alone, Canadian asbestos producers continue to promote and sell their fibre worldwide – especially to developing nations.

Asbestos is used as a binder in cement, as insulation, and in anti-fire walls. It is also a potent carcinogen with a long, well-documented legacy of death.

The danger comes when small asbestos fibres are released and inhaled by labourers. The fibres cause cancerous growths in the lungs, lung lining and abdomen but can take 20 years or more to manifest.

In 1997, Canada exported 430,000 tonnes of asbestos – more than 96% of production – most of it to the developing world. Canada is the world’s second-largest exporter of asbestos after Russia.

Union activists, who have visited India and other developing countries say, however, that the public relations efforts of the government and the asbestos industry are simply window-dressing to hide the fact that most people who work with the natural mineral fibre risk cancer.

Critics of Canada’s asbestos exports say the country is exporting death to protect the profits of a handful of companies and the jobs of 1,600 miners.

“What’s the difference between land mines and asbestos?” asks Dr. Barry Castleman, author of a respected book on the danger of asbestos. “A key difference, of course, is that Canada doesn’t export land mines.”

At the heart of the issue is Canada’s own precarious political situation. All of the asbestos mines in Canada are in Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking province with a separatist government.

Federal and provincial politicians are pushing asbestos exports to prove that they are successful at developing overseas markets, and are protective of Quebec workers. Critics of asbestos exports say the industry would probably be allowed to die if it was centred in any other part of the country.

“Personally, I believe this is all about Quebec politics,” says Canadian Auto Workers Health and Safety director Cathy Walker. “The Canadian and Quebec governments are competing with one another to show just how prepared they all are to protect Quebec jobs.”

The real costs will be borne by the developing world, she says.

Walker just returned from India, where she saw unprotected workers slashing open bags of asbestos fibres. In places where the asbestos was being mixed into cement, clouds of the carcinogenic fibres swirled around workers.

In Britain, the Cancer Research Campaign said in January that its study into the European asbestos-linked cancer epidemic should sound alarm bells everywhere, “particularly in the developing world where uncontrolled asbestos is still very common,” said CRC director Gordon McVie.

Seven of Canada’s top 10 markets are Third World countries. Still, the Canadian government, the asbestos industry and lobby groups are trying to put a good face on the asbestos industry.

Recently, diplomats stationed here were flown to asbestos- producing regions on an all-expense-paid first-class junket.

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Rat-sighting restaurant under renovation


By DON PEAT, Sun Media

A Chinatown restaurant shutdown after some camera un-shy rats appeared in the front window is now under renovations.

Toronto Public Health officials confirmed yesterday Happy Seven restaurant is undergoing renovations before inspectors conduct a final re-inspection of the Spandina Ave. eatery.

“Swatow Restaurant at 309 Spadina Ave. was closed Tuesday for failing to prevent an insect infestation and failing to provide adequate pest control, among other infractions.”

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Jack Layton is the ideal opposition leader


You can’t do your job as Leader of the Opposition. I don’t know what you’re doing running for Prime Minister. It’s a very unusual political situation when every voter knows even before the federal election that Canada’s next prime minister will be Stephen Harper. Like or loathe it, the Conservatives will be returned to power on October 14.

But two other important questions are far from decided – who will be Opposition leader and whether it will be a minority or majority government.

After last week’s debate and two years of Harper government one thing is very clear – the only real federal opposition in the House of Commons is the New Democratic Party. And the only real choice for Opposition leader is Jack Layton.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion is a smart, decent man. But Dion and the Liberals don’t stand up to Stephen Harper – they prop him up.

On 43 separate occasions in Parliament, Dion’s Liberals voted to keep Harper in power and accept his very conservative legislation.

By continually abstaining, the “Official Opposition” has abdicated its important role of serving the majority of Canadians who reject Conservative ideology.

But it wasn’t just fear of losing an election that led to the Liberals becoming Conservative Lite – they actually agree with Harper’s wrong-headed positions on many key political issues.

Dion and the Liberals support Harper’s massive $50 billion corporate tax cuts that reward companies which have eliminated more than 400,000 manufacturing and forest industry jobs since 2000.

And the Liberals and Conservatives want huge tax cuts despite the fact that Canada’s tax rates are already lower than many industrialized nations, including the United States, Germany, Italy and Japan.
And Canada also has a much lower Goods and Services Tax than most countries.

Dion and the Liberals joined with Conservatives to vote to extend till 2011 the deadly mission that sent brave Canadian troops into a hopeless situation in Afghanistan.

Dion and the Liberals say they want a “Green Shift” and carbon tax to protect the environment but oppose a proposed NDP moratorium on new Alberta tar sands oil projects – Canada’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

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Two Cases of E.Coli in Chatham-Kent Linked to U.S. Outbreak


Dr. David Williams, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health is issuing a public alert about two E. coli O157:H7 cases that are thought to be linked to iceberg lettuce that has been distributed in Ontario.

Test results show that two cases in Chatham-Kent are of the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 identified in 38 cases in the United States. All of the cases are thought to be linked to shredded iceberg lettuce distributed by Aunt Mid’s Produce Company. This product is distributed in five pound industrial bags to institutions such as hospitals and long-term care homes, as well as restaurants in southwestern Ontario.

Due to the potential risks associated with this product, all public health units have been asked to:

* Contact all hospitals, long-term care homes and other institutions to verify if the product has been used in the last month and to place any remaining product on hold.
* Send any unopened packages to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Central Public Health Lab for testing.
* Instruct all hospitals and institutions to stop all use of this product until further notice.

In addition, public health units in southwestern Ontario are contacting specific restaurants that may have received the product and asking them to place it on hold.

The lettuce was last distributed in Ontario on September 26, 2008. Since the product has a 12-day shelf-life it could still be in use.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on this investigation.

E. coli O157:H7 may cause serious gastroenteritis, most often with symptoms of diarrhea, and often accompanied by other symptoms including vomiting, and dehydration. The main concern with E. coli O157:H7 diarrhea is that approximately two-to-seven percent of individuals develop Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is a life threatening disease of the kidneys and circulatory system that requires extensive medical treatment. The individuals usually affected are children under five years of age and the elderly.

Media Contact :

Mark Nesbitt, 416-314-6197
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
ontario.ca/health-news

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Why you should not ignore Jack! Is it time for a new vision for Canada?


Maybe its time for change? Maybe its time for a new Prime Minister? We like to think the Tories are the best for managing deficits, however, Ronald Reagan, Brian Mulroney, Mike Harris (Ernie Eves), George Bush and now maybe Harper, will show us that maybe those ideologies just do not work? The Conservatives say that our fundamentals are sound. However, who are they fooling. They are not true Libertarians. There own platforms calls for an approx 1-2 % growth. Economist say that this is highly optimistic, if not deceptive. With the U.S slowdown it is more likely to be a 1-2 % downward turn. That amounts to, in a recent broadcast on CBC Newsworld of a 3.3 billion dollar shortfall. Hmmm! Sounds familiar? Remember Ernie Eves? Yes, Ontario was left with a large deficit, even though our “fundamentals were sound” in Ontario. Makes me wonder, what are the Conservatives going to cut in order to balance the books? Will there be some form of privatization of Healthcare or key Government corporations? Read more below from a recent National Post article on Jack Layton. It maybe time for Canadians to give the guy a chance.  By: Isaac Thomas / G.T.A Patriot Contributor

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By: John Ivison, National Post
Published: Monday, September 29, 2008

Jack Layton

Jack Layton

Jack Layton has never really been taken seriously. Beyond the fiercely partisan types who crowded into a community centre just off Danforth Avenue yesterday, the NDP leader has always been regarded as a harmless buffoon — a man so smug, he’d drink his own bathwater. Jack — let’s call him Jack — has always said outrageous things and nobody has paid too much attention to this point.

But perhaps it’s time people actually started listening.

The NDP leader unveiled his party’s platform yesterday in front of a boisterous crowd in his own riding. It was a virtuoso performance.

“Friends, I sense a real excitement out there. A sense of hope that this time, in this election, we can really make a difference,” he said.

“And maybe we can even make a little history.”

If current polling trends continue, he could do just that, by taking possession of the keys to Stornoway, the residence of the leader of the Official Opposition. The NDP started the campaign as much as 19 points behind the Liberals — some polls now put them in a statistical tie.

On the surface, much of the New Democrat platform will seem appealing to many Canadians — families would receive an enhanced child benefit payment of up to $400 a month; billions would be spent on affordable housing; students would be given a $1,000-a-year grant; more doctors would be hired and their loans forgiven if they work in family medicine; and everyone would get an extra day off work in February. Unlike in days of yore, this would not mean plunging the country into deficit. Budgets would be balanced and personal income taxes would be held steady.

In short, Jack made a convincing case that if he became prime minister, we could trust him to spend our money wisely. There he is in his campaign literature, sleeves rolled up, in the living rooms of the hard-pressed Canadian families helping them make ends meet. No wonder he’s flying high in the polls — he’s identified real problems, real issues and promised real solutions.

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