New online campaign to encourage blood donations during Ramadan
Dubai: A new campaign launched on Thursday and running across the Middle East and North Africa aims to increase blood donations throughout Ramadan.
The ‘Giving is in your blood’ campaign was launched as part of Facebook’s Hack for Good initiative that aims to develop technological solutions to address real social challenges. It is the result of a partnership between Facebook and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
In a celebration of young creative talent in the region, Facebook invited five teams of young professionals from creative agencies across Mena to spend an entire day at the Facebook Mena HQ brainstorming and preparing their proposed ideas. The teams then presented their campaigns to address the IFRC’s goal to boost blood donations during Ramadan to a panel of judges including key regional executives from Facebook and the IFRC. A team from Leo Burnett Beirut emerged victorious, and are working together with Ahmad Younus, Creative Shop Lead Mena at Facebook, to bring their idea to life in the first week of Ramadan.
Ramadan and the summer months tend to result in a dip in blood donations, with those who fast and can donate only after ending their fast at sunset, combined with many travelling for the summer. Blood banks often are in short supply, creating a need to foster more voluntary blood donations. To urge more to donate their blood during Ramadan, ‘Giving is in your blood’ aims to direct people to give blood at the authorised blood donating centres to step up blood donation during the summer season when a shortfall is expected. This drive will give people the power to build more powerful and meaningful communities.
“We are proud to collaborate with the IFRC and Leo Burnett Beirut to empower our 172 million Facebook users in the region to contribute to ‘Giving is in your blood’ campaign and we look forward to seeing its positive impact on communities,” said Christine Harb, regional head of marketing — Mena, Facebook.
Rana Sidani Cassou, head of communications IFRC Mena, explained that while blood saves lives, a lack of blood can mean the opposite.
“Across the region, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are part of the advocacy for the collection of voluntary unpaid blood donations. We hope this campaign will help fill the gap in blood donations that we normally see during Ramadan,” she said.
Poor diet can also lead to depressioN, warn experts
Healthy dietary changes can help avoid developing depression and improve the symptoms of those already living with the condition
The impact of fast food on people’s waistlines and physical health is well understood, but a poor diet can also lead to depression and other mental health problems, experts warn.
A recently published research has revealed that a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts, fish, lean meat and olive oil, can actually improve the mental health of adults living with depression and be a more effective treatment than social support.
Dr Walid Abdul Hamid, a psychiatrist at the Priory Wellbeing Centre in Dubai, said: “Every day in the UAE, we see more and more fast food outlets opening, while takeaway meals and eating out have become a way of life for many people.”
“The potential issues this is creating for people’s long-term physical health is well documented, but it also threatens to create a mental health time-bomb unless we educate and encourage people to eat balanced diets,” he said.
In one of the first trials of its kind, research published in an International Journal on Nutrition, Diet and the Nervous System, found that healthy dietary changes can help avoid developing depression and improve the symptoms of those already living with the condition.
Previously, the benefits of a Mediterranean diet were linked solely with physical health, such as protecting against coronary heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Alaa Takidin, clinical dietitian/nutritionist at Canadian Specialist Hospital said: “The food we consume affects both our physical and mental health. Several studies have shown that diet and depression are linked to each other.”
“People who consume a poor quality diet are more likely to suffer from symptoms of depression. However, people who incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish in their diet are less likely to be depressed,” she said.
Dr Walid added: “This important research exposes just how far reaching the effects of a poor diet are.”
“Until now, there was no proven link between high levels of processed fast foods, sugar and trans-fats and significant levels of depression and anxiety.”
World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics show that Gulf countries have among the highest rates of obesity in the world.
Dr Walid supports the need to consider dietary counselling alongside psychotherapy, in the treatment and prevention of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. “In my experience, some patients living with depression have a tendency to opt for ready-made and fast foods. Switching to a healthy diet can also have a positive effect on self-esteem,” he said.
“The psychological benefit of boosting self-esteem can supplement the physical benefit of a healthy diet, by strengthening the brain and therefore improving mental health.”
To optimise mental health, the research also highlighted the benefits of foods which are nutrient dense in omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamins A, Thiamine, Folate, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, magnesium and iron. In addition, foods such as pistachios, garlic, sweet potatoes and salmon are proven to promote a healthy gut – crucial for boosting levels of serotonin, the ‘happy’ chemical in the brain.
Consuming junk food provides a sense of pleasure and happiness for the first couple of minutes as it causes a massive spike of serotonin levels in the body. However, eventually the person’s energy levels start depleting, which triggers moodiness.
“The constant fluctuation in insulin levels may cause stress and lead to depression, obesity, diabetes and hypertension. According to a study, people who consume junk food and commercially baked goods are 51 per cent more likely to develop depression than those who eat little to none,” said Alaa.
Vitamins are essential to lift up the mood. Foods rich in Folate, Vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 such as asparagus, beans, peas, egg yolks, meat, fish and poultry. Vitamin B6 helps the adrenal glands in producing adrenalin, which controls the body’s response to stress.
Leafy greens, legumes, nuts and eggs that are packed with B vitamins help in producing neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which calms and reduces anxiety. Chromium rich foods such as onions and tomatoes regulate the blood sugar that in turn stabilises the mood.
Omega-3 fatty acids rich foods such as salmon, avocado and certain oils help protect against depression. Tryptophan rich foods such as poultry, red meat, shellfish and whole grains are great to lift the mood as it helps in production of serotonin.
Key ingredients of a Mediterranean diet
> Lean meat
> Olive oil
Nutrient dense and gut-friendly foods
> Greens, such as watercress, lettuce, spinach, salad leaf mustards, kale, broccoli
> Herbs such as basil and parsley
> Vegetables, such as cauliflower and red cabbage
> Fruits, such as cherries, strawberries, lemons and bananas
> Chia, sunflower and flax-seeds
> Oily fish
> Liver and offal
> Goat meat
> Natural live yoghurt
Unregulated antibiotic use could kill 10 million people by 2050
Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s deadliest health crises. Without concerted action, the annual death toll could reach 10 million by 2050 which is more than the number of deaths from cancer, cholera, measles and traffic accidents combined.
The cumulative impact on global economic output could reach $1 trillion by 2050. Hence, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHP) is working on new legislations to end the dangerous consequences of the random intake of antibiotics.
Dr Amin Hussein Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary for Public Health Policy and Licences, chairman of the higher committee for Drug Alerting in the UAE, said the indiscriminate use of antibiotics leads to epidemics, unless intervention and radical solutions are found.
“I would like to point out that the new Federal Law on the ‘Regulation of the Profession of Pharmacy’ is extensively addressing the issue of medicines, which must be disposed only by prescription.”
Dr Al Amiri stressed on the importance of rationalising use of antibiotics and avoiding the risks of misuse as this may increase the ability of the bacteria to resist antibiotics, leading to loss of effectiveness. He warned strongly against taking antibiotics without consulting a doctor, and not to dispose them without a prescription.
According to studies, although non-prescription sale of antibiotics is illegal in the GCC states, 68 per cent of pharmacies in Abu Dhabi, 78 per cent in Riyadh and 87 out of 88 pharmacies in Saudi Arabia sell them without a prescription.
Researchers have also found that poor hand-hygiene compliance in hospitals and the region’s large population of migrant workers could have contributed to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
“Many doctors think that starting a super strong antibiotic is necessary for patient betterment,” he said, adding that physicians should do a risk assessment for patients, investigate and then prescribe.
Dr Laila Al Dabal, head of infectious diseases unit at Rashid Hospital, said: “Unfortunately, antibiotics are being prescribed wrongly by the physicians or under pressure from patients.
“Another common mistake is incomplete courses of antibiotics, so the patient might take two or three doses of antibiotics and as soon as she/he feels better, they stop the antibiotic without going back to the prescribing physician.
“This will obviously lead to the creation of drug resistance and there is a cumulative risk every time an antibiotic is used or prescribed inappropriately,” she added.
Experts say that while physicians are prescribing antibiotics unnecessarily, patients are popping pills without the right prescriptions.
“Physicians are under pressure from patients. They feel that if they don’t prescribe the antibiotic, they will be blamed if something goes wrong later,” said Dr Ashraf ElHoufi, head of the hospital infection control committee at Dubai Hospital.
Aetna International, a global healthcare company has outlined effective strategies in a new white paper titled ‘Antibiotic resistance: Toward better stewardship of a precious medical resource’.
According to the paper, the main causes of antimicrobial resistance (a broader category that also encompasses drug-resistant viruses, fungi and parasites) are misuse and over-prescription; the use of antibiotics in agriculture; a lack of research and an anaemic drug pipeline; and poor hygiene and sanitation.
Dr Mitesh Patel, medical director, Aetna International, said: “We strongly advocate action through proactive education, early intervention, data analysis and an emphasis on value-based care. The antibiotic resistance is a crisis that effects everyone globally and we need to address this issue now with a global, multifaceted strategic solution.
“Stemming the rising tide of antibiotic resistance will take a global, multi-pronged effort. The industry must become better stewards of the antibiotics we have today, while working to develop more antibiotics for tomorrow. A focus on harnessing big data will inform strategies that create better care for patients as well as significantly decreasing the financial cost from antimicrobial resistance,” said Dr Patel.
55 per cent British doctors under pressure to prescribe antibiotics
A 2014 survey of 1,000 primary care doctors in the UK found that 55 per cent felt pressure, mainly from patients, to prescribe antibiotics, even if they were not sure whether it was necessary. This highlights the urgent need for a greater effort to educate individuals about the use of antibiotics.
A large proportion of the population mistakenly believe they should stop taking an antibiotic once they begin to feel better.
However, it is also imperative to tailor antibiotic stewardship strategies to individual countries. Each country will differ on a case by case basis, which means alternative strategies are needed to combat antibiotic resistance.
In order to succeed, an integrated, multi-sectorial antibacterial resistance strategy is needed.
The WHO Global Action Plan looks at ways to improve understanding of antimicrobial resistance, with methods such as increasing research to strengthen the current knowledge and evidence base. It also suggests reducing infection through effective sanitation and optimising the use of antimicrobial medicines in human and animal health.
WHO study finds who takes antibiotics in a proper way
A 12-country survey by the WHO in 2015 demonstrates the differences between countries when it comes to taking antibiotics. At least 75 per cent of respondents from Egypt, India, Mexico and Sudan reported taking an antibiotic within the last six months, compared with just 35 per cent of those from Barbados. Nearly 90 per cent of South Africans understand they should take the full course of antibiotic, compared with just 47 per cent of Chinese.
KT Nano Edit
Superbugs are real
Overprescription of antibiotics and its overuse in animals have caused growing drug resistance in humans, and are leading to serious health implications. The rise of superbugs is real. They cannot be treated with existing antibiotics and threaten the gains made in medicine. Millions could die every year for the lack of medicine. Concerted effort at the global front is required to tackle this problem.