World Hepatitis Day 2017

Hepatitis is a liver inflammation caused by a virus. Since 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) brings awareness to this disease every 28th of July. The motto for this year is: “to eliminate hepatitis.”

Image Credits: World Health Organization

There are five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D and E. Treating hepatitis can be a simple process (or it can be untreatable), depending on the type of hepatitis, its stage of development and the damage already done to the liver. In the worst case scenarios, acute or chronic hepatitis can lead to more serious problems such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.

According to a report from the WHO, viruses B and C are responsible for 96% of hepatitis-related deaths. In 2015, there were nearly 325 million cases of hepatitis worldwide, but treatment only reaches a small percentage of individuals, especially in low income countries. In the same year, hepatitis caused the death of 1.3 million people.

Hepatitis viruses have different incubation periods and show no symptoms for long periods of time, but a simple blood test can detect the virus. Learn more about the virus and how they can spread.

Prevention is the key, so check your health regularly. Contact Medical Port if you want to arrange a medical check-up during a visit to Portugal! 

 

Read more: http://www.who.int/campaigns/hepatitis-day/2017/en/

31st May: World No Tobacco Day

Tobacco contributes to 16% of non-communicable diseases and tobacco-related diseases kill more than 7 million every year.

Today commemorates the World No Tobacco Day, a date that aims to raise awareness of the hazardous effects of tobacco, not only for health, but as well for the environment, and for life quality in general. As the World Health Organisation Director-General Dr Margaret Chan says: “Tobacco threatens us all. Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air.”

Tobacco is a huge burden on health. On average, smokers lose 15 years of life and almost half of tobacco users will die of tobacco – related causes. Second hand smoke, the smoke produced by cigarettes and smokers than can be inhaled by other people contributes to the death of nearly 1 million people every year.

Tobacco has also a strong impact on economy, by reducing economic productivity and placing a burden on healthcare expenditure. According to the WHO, every year over US$ 1.4 trillion are spent by households and governments worldwide because of tobacco.

Quitting smoking can be a challenge, but it certainly will improve the lives of smokers and their families and friends. If you are living in Portugal and you want to stop smoking, contact us. Medical Port has partnered with a clinic that offers a comprehensive program to quit smoking, involving a multidisciplinary approach covering from psychological support to nutrition and medical follow up.

Source: World Health Organisation (WHO)

World Immunization Week 2017 – Vaccines are successful

During the “World Immunization Week” the World Health Organization (WHO) raises awareness to the use of vaccines as an effective tool protect against diseases.

Vaccines are seen as one of the most successful and cost-effective ways to prevent diseases and save lives. Every year, between 2 and 3 million deaths are avoided because of vaccination and another 1.5 million could be avoided, according to estimations by the WHO.

 

MD Margaret Chan, WHO’s Director-General, says “nearly 1 in 5 children – worldwide are still missing routine immunizations for preventable diseases, such as diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.” Increasing access to vaccines is part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations.

The WHO explains that besides providing defenses against for multiple diseases, immunization is “a point of contact for health care at the beginning of life and offers every child the chance at a healthy life from the start.” To learn more about pediatric care, you can visit our website or contact us.

One of the greatest successes of vaccines is the fight against polio, since there has been a decrease of 99% of cases since 1988. In 2016, only 27 cases were reported worldwide. Nowadays, only 3 countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic. Another important achievement is the progress made in reducing measles cases, from 2.6 million, in 1980, to 134 000, in 2015.

Read more about vaccines and immunization week in our previous blog post.

World Immunization Week 2017 – Vaccines Work

Every year, the last week of April aims to raise awareness for immunization. This year topic is “Vaccines Work”.

Vaccines work by acting as “fake” pathogens that carry diseases, prompting a response from the immune system. This way, the body will be ready to act faster if faced with the real disease pathogen in the future. By helping to prevent diseases in the first place, vaccines also limit the antibiotic resistance.

During this action week, the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to raise awareness for the importance of the use of vaccines and clarify some myths regarding them. The five key messages raised by the WHO are:

  1. Vaccines are safe and effective, because they undergo rigorous tests before being given to the population
  2. Vaccines prevent deadly diseases, like measles and mumps. Those who are not vaccinated are more vulnerable to such things
  3. Vaccines provide better immunity than natural infections, because there is less risk involved
  4. Combined vaccines are safe and beneficial and there is no risk associated with receiving multiple vaccines at the same time
  5. If we stop vaccination diseases will return. When less people get vaccinated, even previously eradicated diseases can return (as the recent outbreak of measles in some European countries).

Make sure you and your family are protected against diseases! If you are living in Portugal and away from your country healthcare system, we will help you finding the adequate healthcare you need. Contact us!

 

Sources: WHO, Historyofvaccines.org

March 24th: World Tuberculosis Day

World Tuberculosis day aims to raise awareness to the epidemic of tuberculosis, a disease that in 2015 affected more than 10 millions people worldwide. The theme for this year is “Unite to End TB”.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that affects mostly the lungs, though it is possible to affect other parts of the body. While it is considered a serious condition, it can be treated with antibiotics. This date commemorates the day, back in 1882, when Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of the virus that causes tuberculosis.

According to the WHO, tuberculosis is often overlooked because is hard to be diagnosed. Symptoms can include cough that lasts longer than 3 weeks (with phlegm that can have blood), weight loss, night sweats, fever, fatigue and loss of appetite.

TB occurs in every part of the world but the majority of cases are concentrated in Asia (61%) and Africa (26%). In countries with a few registered cases, TB affects mostly vulnerable individuals in social risk, like people with alcohol and drug problems or homeless people. TB affects particularly people who are infected with the HIV virus, as both infections speed up each other’s progression.

As in most health conditions, an early and proper diagnosis is the key to a better, faster recovery. Delaying treatment can lead to long-term health issues.

Source: WHO, CDC, StopTB, NHS

 

International Childhood Cancer Day – 15 February

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that around 200 000 children and teenagers are diagnosed with cancer, though many cases may be unreported. It is one of the leading causes of death among children.

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Childhood cancer is commonly used to designate cancers diagnosed in individuals below 18 years old. This international day aims to raise awareness and support to all those affected by this problems, children, teenagers, parents or other caregivers, as it places a great burden, emotional and economic to all parties involved.

In the USA, there were over 10 000 diagnosed childhood cancer cases in 2016. Nearly 90% are expected to survive. Although the survival rate has increased, it remains the leading cause of death among children in this country. In Portugal, there are around 350 cases every year and the survival rates are also high, in line with the high-income countries.

Cancer in children and teenagers tend to be different than those happening among adults. More common cancers among adults like breast, lung and colon cancer are rare among children, while leukemia represents a third of the cases among children and teenagers. There are also some tumors that only occur specifically among children, like neuroblastoma, nephroblastoma, medulloblastoma and retinoblastoma.

Causes & Treatment

Design by Freepik.com
Design by Freepik.com

Genetic factors, radiation and viruses like Epstein-Barr, Hepatitis B, Human Herpes and HIV are some of the identified factors that can contribute to a higher risk of childhood cancer, but exact causes are still unknown. Common treatments include: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplant. Treatment depends on the type and the stage of cancer.

According to the WHO, nearly 80% of children living in high-income countries can expect to survive five years or longer after the cancer diagnosis. Children in such countries are followed regularly by doctors. Over 90% of deaths related to childhood cancer occur in lower-income countries.

Pediatric oncology is the specialty that deals with these cases. To learn more about pediatric consultations click here.

Sources: World Health Organization, National Cancer Institute, Associação Acreditar

 

Cardiovascular diseases

All the organs in the body are important, but the heart certainly deserves a special care. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 75% of CVD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

Cardiovascular diseases refer to disorders related to the heart and blood vessels. In the UK, every 7 minutes, somone suffers from a heart attack and around 160,000 people die from heart and circulatory diseases every year. In Portugal, in 2012 there were over 30 000 deaths due to cardiovascular diseases.

The following image describes the different cardiovascular diseases:

Cardiovascular diseases: coronary heart disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle; cerebrovascular disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain; peripheral arterial disease – disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs; rheumatic heart disease – damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria; congenital heart disease – malformations of heart structure existing at birth; deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs.

In any of these scenarios, an early detection and management on an existing condition are essential. If you would like to know more about the status of your heart, Medical Port has a special check-up that focuses solely on the heart. Check the image below or send us an email for more information.

Cardiovascular check up

Additionally, adopting healthy habits, as described in the previously article  is also advisable, as smoking, hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, overweight and a sedentary lifestyle are all risk factors.

Sources: WHO   Heart UK   Revista Factores de Risco

29th September – World Heart Day

World Heart Day is celebrated on the 29th of September. Throughout the world, millions of deaths are linked to heart problems, and many could be avoided with an healthier lifestyle and early prevention mechanisms.

World Heart Day

According to the world Health Organization (WHO), half of all deaths in the European region are due to cardiovascular disease. Africa has the highest prevalence of high blood pressure in the world. Blood pressure is linked to a greater risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and heart failure, among other health issues. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in USA – it represents 1 in 4 deaths among Americans.

Many factors can contribute to heart problems, such as age, family history, problems like hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and being overweight.

The do’s and the don’ts

  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat healthy meals, that include plenty of vegetables, fruit, fish and cereal
  • Avoid food that is high on salt, sugar or fat
  • Drink plenty of water

Apart from a healthy diet, some lifestyle habits can also help you achieve better health and prevent heart diseases, such as exercising regularly, doing a leisure active such as reading, gardening or meditating. These hobbies can help you fight stress, which can contribute to heart problems as well. Additionally, don’t underestimate good nights of sleep. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.

If you want to do a specialised heart check-up while visiting Portugal, you can contact us and we will make all the arrangements according to your availability.

Sexually transmitted infections: Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) worldwide, yet, because of its asymptomatic nature, many people don’t know they are infected. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications. Fortunately, nowadays it’s easy to treat chlamydia. The first step is up to you – getting checked.

clamidia_img

Chlamydia is a genital infection with the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis and is one of the most common sexual transmitted infections (STI) worldwide. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) states that in 2013 there were nearly 400 000 reported cases of chlamydia in the Europe Union. In the USA, in 2014, there were about 1.4 million reported cases. This makes chlamydia the most common STI in both Europe and USA.

Chlamydia can spread through different ways. Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex are only some of them. It can also spread just by coming into contact with the genitals of an infected person, even if there is no penetration or ejaculation. Sharing sex toys without being properly washed or covered with a condom is also a risk behavior. You can also get infected by getting semen or vaginal fluids into your eye. Additionally, chlamydia can be passed on by pregnant women to their babies during birth, which can lead to serious health complications for the child.

Because it is often asymptomatic, sometimes for many years, in both women and men, many people are not aware they are infected with chlamydia. When people do develop symptoms, they may experience pain when urinating, unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or rectum. Additionally, women may experience abdominal pain, bleeding during or after sex and between periods. Men may feel some pain and swelling around the testicles.

Do you think you may have been at risk of getting chlamydia?

Chlamydia can be easily detected and treated with a short course regimen of antibiotics. Both test and treatment are very affordable. If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to serious complications like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), inflammation of the testicles and infertility. If you fear you might have caught chlamydia and you’re in Portugal, Medical Port can help you get an appointment.

The World Health Organization reports that every year there are nearly 500 million new cases of curable STI’s (gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and trichomoniasis). The burden of such diseases has a greater impact in lower-income countries. However in developed countries chlamydia infections are still on the rise and remain a public health concern.

Sources: NHS, WHO, ECDC

 

Better safe than sorry: you may want to consider an STD screening

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), usually known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections that spread mostly through sexual contact. The most common are chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis, but there are many more, like HIV and Hepatitis B.

a doctor holds a notebook. the text says "stds: when was the last time you got tested?"

Holidays mean fun and a needed relaxing period from a long work year. However health does not take a time out. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that everyday over one million of STDs are acquired worldwide. A great part of STDs has mild or no symptoms. Thus, many people are not aware they are infected and contribute to the spreading unwittingly.

If left untreated, STDs can lead to other serious conditions, beyond the infections itself. For instance, gonorrhea and chlamydia are the main causes of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility among women. In men, the most common consequence is an infection in the prostate, prostatitis, but can also lead to infertility.

Practicing safe sex, using male or female condoms is a great practice to reduce the risk of contracting an STD but does not eliminate it at 100%. If you are sexually active with multiple partners, you should check your status regularly. During your next check-up, ask to be also tested for STDs.

We will be talking more about STDs throughout the month of August. Stay tuned and remember that prevention is the key!