POEA Freezes Hiring of RP Nurses to UAE

A report from Khaleej Times , a news website said that the a freeze order on the deployment of Filipino nurses to Unite Arab Emirates (UAE) General Authority for Health Services was issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) since September of this year.

The said order was released in connection with the court cases of 100 Filipino nurses working at Al Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi who were terminated after failing to pass a clinical assessment tests done in Abu Dhabi. Also, the employment contracts of 17 of the 100 Filipino nurses working there were not renewed.  The cause and reason for termination of the nurses become controversial because the outcome of the tests is surprising and unbelievable.

The nurses who did not passed the exam have been working in the UAE hospital for 10-25 years and are also Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) passer.

The said freeze order would remain until the court cases of 100 Filipino nurses are resolved in court.

Philippine Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan, said: “This is the first time that Filipino nurses working at Al Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi are said to have failed to qualify the clinical assessments. Indeed, this is very surprising.”

Cabactulan was also dismayed by the answer of a top Al Mafraq official when asked him if massive termination could ever happen in America, England or the Philippines.

Cabactulan said, “His answer was a ‘No’, citing labour unions there. It was as if they can do anything here or that the rights of the workers can be trampled upon because no one can stand up for their rights. I even said ‘go ahead’ when one of his comments seemed to suggest that they would recruit nurses from elsewhere.”


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Hospitals embrace laughter therapy

Friday, November 28, 2008
By Ula Ilnytzky, The Associated Press

The off-color jokes flew around the room. As the anecdotes got bawdier, the laughter intensified. Some recited from memory, others read from notebooks they brought along.

The setting for the hilarity was the Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center at Montefiore Hospital in New York City. The participants were cancer patients, some with advanced stages of the illness.

They were taking part in the hospital's monthly "Strength Through Laughter" therapy. It is one of several types of laughter or humor therapy being offered by medical facilities around the country for patients diagnosed with cancer or other chronic diseases.

The programs range from joke sessions to clown appearances to viewing of humorous movies.

While the verdict is still out on whether laughter plays a role in healing, the American Cancer Society and other medical experts say it reduces stress and promotes relaxation by lowering blood pressure, improves breathing and increases muscle function.

On a recent day before Halloween, many of the two dozen patients at Montefiore arrived in costume to "spook cancer."

"The session makes you feel better," said Luz Rodriguez, 57, a breast cancer patient now in remission, who came disguised as a security officer. "I feel healthy when I laugh."

The laughs generated a warmth among the group that was palpable, particularly when Ms. Rodriguez changed into an angel costume and went around offering a red rose and a hug or kiss to each of the participants.

Their facilitator, senior oncology social worker Gloria Nelson, started the session five years ago to help cancer patients focus on living, instead of dying.

"They have such amazing strength, but it's a constant challenge, the fear of it coming back, how to go on living knowing you have cancer," said Ms. Nelson, who came dressed as the mother of the bride. "Every time they laugh, it's like kicking cancer out the door. You're taking control, you're saying it's not controlling me."

The most famous case of laughter's therapeutic effects on the body was described by Norman Cousins, editor of the Saturday Review, in his 1979 book, "Anatomy of an Illness." He claimed that a combination of laughter and vitamins cured him of a potentially fatal illness.

"I made the joyous discovery that 10 minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect," he wrote.

Still, laughter therapy is not for everyone. Some cancer patients are so overwhelmed with their diagnosis that they are unable to participate. Medical experts stress that laughter and other complementary therapies like acupuncture, massage and meditation are not substitutes for traditional medical treatment but can be used to help relieve the anxiety brought on by the disease.

At the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Ill., patients experience another form of laughter therapy that bypasses jokes. In this version, patients practice laughter sounds like "he-he," "ha-ha," and "ho-ho," greet each other with laughter instead of words and engage in games like a pretend snowball fight until laughter overtakes them.

The staff at the center first tried it in 2004. They felt "weird and silly" but when they tried it out with patients the next day, the laughter soon became contagious, said Katherine Puckett, a licensed clinical social worker and a mind-body medicine expert.

The therapy has since been integrated into the culture of the hospital, and is also offered at the center's facilities in Philadelphia, Tulsa and Seattle.

Steve Wilson, a psychologist who runs the World Laughter Tour, which also trains and certifies laughter club leaders, said about two dozen hospitals around the country have asked to be trained in the method just in the past two to three years. One hospital wants to try the therapy with lung transplant patients because laughter allows more oxygen to move through the body.

An international program with a similar goal but totally different approach is "Caring Clowns." The Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia uses the program of costumed volunteers to get patients to giggle -- or at least smile -- and open up.

"One of the challenges of being diagnosed with cancer is preserving your dignity ... when we tell you to put on a gown where the back half is missing and everyone's examining you and asking about bodily functions," said Dr. Richard Wender, former president of the American Cancer Society and the hospital's chief of family medicine.

The clown volunteers, he said, create a sense of comfort that helps narrow the "interpersonal gap" between patient and medical staff.

Robbie Robinson, 52, a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor, became a certified laughter leader after witnessing the "coping mechanism" laughter offered him as a patient at CTCA.

"Some people came in wheelchairs, some were helped by family and friends. You could tell people were down ... then I noticed that through some stimulated laughter, people started smiling. They forgot their troubles. You could see the pressure come off them."

The nonprofit Rx Laughter, meanwhile, focuses on managing patient pain and improving mental health through comic entertainment, including films and TV clips. It is a unique collaboration between the entertainment and medical fields that was founded in 1998 by Sherry Dunay Hilber, one-time director of prime time programming for ABC and CBS.

Rx Laughter's participation in two large medical studies discovered that patients who watched funny videos during certain painful procedures were more relaxed and tolerated the pain longer. It also found that cancer patients had less pain and slept better after such entertainment. The organization offers a variety of programs for hospitals, nursing homes, cancer support groups and rehabilitation clinics.

"Comic entertainment is at our fingertips 24/7. ... Watching our favorite shows and films can get us through very stressful times -- all the more important in light of the cost of psychotherapy that many people cannot afford, and the problematic side effects of too many painkillers," said Ms. Hilber.
Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Thousands of patients getting private healthcare for free

Under "patient choice", a policy launched in 2006 to allow people to choose from a range of hospitals, patients can also have non-emergency procedures in any private hospital that can carry out the treatment for the same cost as the NHS. 

A total of 147 private hospitals are now signed up to the scheme and carrying out treatments such as knee and hip operations. While non-paying patients are not entitled to any medication or implants not available on the NHS, they benefit from better accommodation, more staff attention and other perks of private facilities. 

The number of people taking up the offer has risen from little more than 300 per month in the summer of 2007 to more than 3,600 in September. This means the NHS spent £7.6million on giving the patients treatment in private hospitals, rather than their own.

However, Jacky Davis, a senior member of the British Medical Association and the co-chair of the NHS Consultants' Association, said the policy meant the NHS was losing money overall.

She told the BBC: "This is money that is being lost from the NHS. That can compromise services and patients should be told that by going private in this way they are potentially putting care they may need in the future under pressure." 

Opponents have long argued that the policy would see private hospitals "cream off" the easiest cases, depriving NHS hospitals of their everyday work and forcing them to focus on more expensive procedures. 

However, the Government insists the policy is the best way to drive up standards in all hospitals through competition for patients.

A Department of Health spokesman told the BBC: "Choice gives providers the incentive to tailor services to the needs and preferences of patients which, in turn, will lead to better outcomes and the reduction of health inequalities."

Study may boost nutrient's use against HIV

Tuesday, December 02, 2008
By David Templeton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It has long been known that people infected with HIV/AIDS have lower levels of selenium in their bodies, with further evidence that supplements of the micronutrient slow the virus's progression.

Now a Penn State University researcher has explained how selenium effectively battles the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, that weakens the immune system and afflicts more than 33 million people worldwide.

K. Sandeep Prabhu, assistant professor of immunology and molecular toxicology, said his team's findings reveal for the first time how selenium succeeds in blocking replication of HIV by 10-fold or more.

The research appears this week in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

"We hope this will be incorporated into the clinic, and this research will lead to new therapeutic interventions with selenium and selenium-dependent compounds," Dr. Prahbu said. "It could lead to a whole new line of research."

It also suggests the over-the-counter supplement could provide a cheaper way to combat HIV/AIDS in impoverished countries, especially in Africa.

"Most of the HIV population lives below the poverty line and most can't afford drugs," Dr. Prahbu said. "Selenium and selenium compounds are less expensive but still provide protection by decreasing the viral load."

The research, he said, should encourage wider usage of selenium in the United States, where health officials have been reluctant to prescribe it without understanding how it works.

Dr. Prabhu's research reveals that selenium, which the body uses to maintain normal metabolism, makes its way into selenoproteins via an amino acid known as selenocysteine.

Once a person is infected with HIV, the virus begins replicating and producing a Tat protein that causes inflammation in cells. But the body counters with the selenoprotein TR1 that upsets the chemical structure of Tat and reduces HIV's ability to replicate.

During the battle, TR1 degrades, so supplementation is necessary to restore the body's supply. It explains why people with HIV/AIDS who aren't taking selenium supplements have low levels in their system.

Dr. Prabhu's team isolated bloods cells from healthy human volunteers who did not have HIV and then infected the cells with the virus. Next they added tiny amounts of the selenium compound, sodium selenite, into the cell culture and inhibited HIV replication by at least 10-fold, which Dr. Prabhu said could be a low estimate. Once production of TR1 was reduced, HIV resumed dividing rapidly.

"Once we fully understand the function of these selenium proteins, it will give us a handle to come up with more effective drugs," Dr. Prabhu said.

Epidemiological data already suggested that people with HIV/AIDS who used selenium showed better health results.

"Now we're coming out with the mechanism of how it works," he said.
David Templeton can be reached at dtempleton@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1578.