Category Archives: Health

Health

Langerhans @ 70

Starting your own business from the ground up can be a monumental endeavour but continuing the legacy of a pharmacy with a 70-year history can be just as tricky. For husband and wife duo, Adino Tré and Kim Dreyer-Tré that is just what they have been doing with Langerhans Pharmacy.

Tucked in the cosy corner of Ausspanplatz in the capital, the pharmacy has existed since the late 40s and it is its great service and a willingness to go the extra mile that has seen them excel throughout the decades.

Since 2001 when they became part of the Langerhans team and finally bought it over, they took up the challenge of continuing a 70-year-old legacy.

In fact, “We remember one of our oldest customers, an elderly lady who insisted she remembered coming to the store in 1946. For us, that is both a compliment and a challenge to keep providing excellent service,” says Kim.

It is this pharmaceutical approach that has allowed people to confide personal health issues in them. One normal day at Langerhans is never the same as the next.

The company boasts of four pharmacists with a combined 60-year experience, a diverse team from different walks of life. Their multiculturalism is the imprint on the legacy of Langerhans.

“We make it a point to employ people with different kinds of skill sets as different tribes and backgrounds offer different talents.

We try to include everyone which teaches you to be able to work well with different people,” Adino tells Us.

The motto of Langerahans is that people remember how they were treated more than the treatment that they received.

With an Engineering degree, Adino helps run the admin, fiancé and other aspects of the business, while Kim, who holds a B Pharm degree (Bachelor of Pharmacy) and has been working in the pharmacy industry since the age of 16 keeps the ship organised and managed.

But, “business is business and personal life is personal life and they should be kept separate. We have found a great working dynamic but if ever we disagree on anything we have a great diverse team that allows us to wisely make decisions that improve our customers’ lives,” says Kim.

While another place would turn down a customer who is short of the funds required for the ailment, Adino says they always try and offer them an alternative to suit their budget

In fact, they are one of the few operating pharmacies that still accepts government medical aid. While this can sometimes work to their detriment, he stresses that government has been a key partner in offering service to people.

Of course, great service and medicine is not their only asset. The popular Green Cross is their flagship product, as well as an array of perfumes, from Hugo Boss to Calvin Klein.

For the next 70 years, the legacy of great service at Langerhans is what Kim and Adino aim to please.

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HIV stigma: When the writing is on the wall and in your face.How Namibia is leading a new war against stigma

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The past 21 months have been horrendous for 19-year old *Selma Shilongo (not her real name). She has walked 25 kilometres almost every week with baby Paulus strapped onto her back, crossing the Okankolo-Onkumbula road in Oshikoto region, from her Onadhi village.If lucky, young boys on donkey carts give her a hike.

Who wouldn’t? There are no cars in this part of the world because they tend to get stuck in the sand.“One time I walked past an ambulance stuck in the sand and I reached the hospital before them,” she

For years, door labels at Okankolo, just like many hospitals in Namibia have been the indirect source of HIV related stigma.

says as 9-month-old Paulus fidgets on her lap. She cannot breastfeed him. A black African beauty, Selma is content and has come to adjust with life as an HIV/AIDS patient.

When they ask her why she is at school, she shows them her baby. Some men still try to ‘hit’ on her, then she swings her baby from her back to show them, ‘no way, I have baggage.’ “That’s easier than telling them, ‘I have AIDS’,”, she says.

Having a baby at a tender age is a sign of looseness in this part of the world. Either you are ostracised from the community or more men want you as they see you as the ‘easier’ one. And Selma has had to live with all since her uncle raped and infected her with the deadly virus almost two years back.

“I only found out I was now HIV positive when I went to check on the pregnancy,” she says. For someone who was a below average student in class, being HIV positive did not have much significance. It’s rarely spoken of, and besides, she was a virgin before this ordeal.

She had no clue about what the world has to offer. “The only problem I have had is going to the hospital and getting this other look from everyone. I used to wonder what this was about. It was a haunting glare. Every time I came out of that door for the HIV section, everyone would give me that other look.

At one time, I got a donkey-cart ride to the hospital and the people were eager to ride back with me as well, but when they saw me coming out of this HIV section, they came up with a lot of stories. In the end, I walked home,” says Selma.

The United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) recently came up with a pilot campaign to link ARV services into sexual and reproductive health services.It’s a first for southern Africa, that patients are not classified the moment they enter a health centre.

“When walking out of the hospital, I always feel naked. At times, I want to walk out when I know even the security guard is distracted. I even tried getting my pills in Windhoek where I am not know, but it is worse, because there everyone knows about HIV and the section at Central Hospital which deals with ARV is bigger and always full.

Everyone knows if you are going to that wing of the hospital, you are ‘sick’, and everyone you meet seems to be saying, ‘I know you have AIDS,’” says Selma. Namibia has a high coverage of (anc) antenatal care (97%), skilled deliveries (88%) and prevalence of modern contraceptive use (50%).

However, the country continues to experience unacceptably high levels of maternal mortality (385/100,000), teenage pregnancy (19%) with some regions reporting even higher burden such as Kunene with 34%. Further, according to the 2015 National Review on school drop-outs and out of school children, 22% of children and young people age 7- 19 years were not in school due to pregnancy.

Young girls like Selma and adolescents remains at risk of early child marriages, pregnancies and unemployment. The above mentioned are a huge public health burden for the health system in Namibia and require stringent, robust collaborative interventions with key partners, supported by effective policies, and strong systems, admits Health Minister Bernard Haufiku.

“Namibia is fortunate to be part of this great initiative to effectively link and integrate sexual and reproductive health as well as HIV services at all levels,” says Haufiku, himself a certified doctor.

The UNFPA in conjuction with Haufiku’s ministry and other donors such as the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Southern African Development Community (SADC), and International Plant Parenthood Federation (IPPF),  have been sharing  best practices through various platforms and, provide further policy and strategic guidance through reviewing proposed country work plans for 2017, amongst many . Local studies and assessment done during a pilot phase suggests and remarkable reduction in patient waiting times for first ANC visit inside the consulting rooms (from 1:06 minutes to 0.31minutes).

This Haufiku says is attributed to the allocation of patients by language to services providers. In addition, all services are now accessible every day of the week from Monday to Friday- resulting in reduced trips to facilities from patients.  Over the past 21 months, Selma has been going to the hospital for her CD4 count or to collect her pills on given dates that everyone with the same ailment would be there. “All this time it has been written all over our faces. And it was a writing on the wall too, okusha your days are numbered…” she says. But that is now a thing of the past, as Okankolo has benefited from the UNFPA pilot project and change has arrived.

Young people are accessing services easily, and according to the pilot project, it’s evident in the increased uptake of first family planning services increased by an overall 14.7%. Selma walks into the hospital like any other patient. She has her own nurse who attends to her and feels at home with her, in any part of the hospital, depending on the available consulting rooms.

Based on these dividends, The Ministry of Health and Social Services in Namibia has pledged to scale up this model of eliminating stigma from seven (Epako clinic- Omaheke region, Khomasdal clinic-Khomas region, Okankolo hospital-Oshikoto region, Rehoboth hospital-Hardap region) to 73 other health facilities in 2017.

“We are committed to further improving services and addressing challenges identified during the first (pilot) phase, with special focus on adolescents and young girls, by aligning itself with the objective of the proposed second phase of: improving sexual and reproductive health and reducing HIV for men, women, and adolescent boy and girls by institutionalized integration of non-discriminatory SRH and HIV services for increased access and uptake of quality services,” says Haufiku. And for Selma, at least the writing is no longer in your face.

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Festive giving: Blood donation, ultimate gift of the Festive Season

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What is a special present that could come only from you? You may not have thought of this: The greatest gift you can give another human is, literally, life.

Donating blood even once can help save the lives of three people –whether they’re newborns needing heart surgery, adults badly injured in car crashes, or people of any age suffering from cancer.

If you already donate, you probably know how important it is. If you don’t donate, you’re hardly alone.

Who Gives?

Studies show that the primary motivation for people who donate blood every year is altruism, while the primary hurdle for those who don’t is inconvenience.

Yet most communities offer places to give blood, and the whole procedure takes less than an hour.

Those who have never donated cite the risk of HIV/AIDS as their primary concern.

But “people cannot get a disease from giving blood,” Medical technologist at NamBTS, Uvatera Tjitendero Gowases says.

The Namibian Blood Donation Services (NamBTS) is the only authorised blood donation service provider in the country.

“The staff use a new, sterile needle on each donor and immediately dispose of it after they draw the blood,” adds Gowases.

Am I Eligible?

In general, you are eligible if you are 16 and older, weigh more than 50kg, and don’t have AIDS or other transmissible diseases.

Some conditions may also make you temporarily ineligible, including pregnancy, low iron level, and high or low blood pressure problems.

One may not donate within four months of getting a tattoo, six months of having a major operation and seven days of taking anti-biotics. One also cannot donate within 56 days of a donation to allow the body to recover.

Blood donations are needed all year, but they’re most critical during holidays. “That’s when we see the most trauma,” Gowases says, “and when donors are unavailable, due to vacation schedules, illness, or inclement weather.”

In April this year, with more holidays, car accidents and stabbings, there were 400 fewer donations than the regular average monthly 2000 units. 0.8% of the Namibian population regularly donates blood.

The Process

Long before transfusion, the blood is collected into a 450ml bag that has an anticoagulant solution to prevent the blood from clotting and the cells from dying.

Gowases explains that three products are extracted for the use of transfusion, namely plasma, red blood cells and platelets which will then be given to patients based on the particular need.

“In order to separate these three components in the blood, we have to put the blood unit into a special spinning machine that gives 3266 rotations per minute.

This results in the separation of the three components. Plasma lasts up to 12 months and that is why we cannot use it until the donor comes back to donate again in order to allow us to redo tests,” she tells Us.

Platelets, which are the most in demand last only five days and cannot be kept stationary and therefore have to be kept at 20-24 degrees Celsius in a platelet incubator. Red blood cells can last 37-42 days.

With such a rigorous process and blood constantly in demand from hospitals there is always the risk of an HIV+ positive donor giving their blood unbeknownst to them.

Titus Shivute, Educational Officer at NamBTS, explains that, “Unlike centers such as New Start which use a rapid HIV test, which may require three to four months to positively detect HIV in the bloodstream, we use nucleus acid test which picks up the genetic material of the virus, meaning we can pick up the virus within a few days even if it was only very recently contracted,” he says.

If a donor’s blood unit is found to be HIV positive, they are contacted and offered counselling however the blood unit is discarded.

Plasma units that have not been transfused within a year, on the chance that the donor does not return, are also discarded with Rent-a-Drum services.

Of course, before this, donors go through a pre-screen questionnaire to find out more about their lifestyle and legibility to donate. Hemoglobin levels should be at 12.5 g/dL.

“Plasma recovers within a day if you regularly take fluids after donating.

Red blood cells take up to three-five weeks while the lost iron in the blood takes up to six-eight weeks to recover and that is how we came up with the 56-day waiting period.

You have to be between 16-65 to donate and weigh 50Kg.” O- is considered the universal blood type that is given in emergencies as anyone can receive it.

It is the neonatal blood meaning newborns can get it. AB is the rarest of the blood types.

Once units are processed and cleared they are taken to blood banks and the various Namibian Institute of Pathology (NIP) centers across the country to await orders from hospitals.

“We have four fix sites in the country, in Oshakati, Swakop and two in Windhoek. 60% of our donors are from schools and tertiary institutions but it becomes a challenge during the festive periods because these institutions will be closed. We encourage people to donate and give special recognition to those who given often. We have rewards for those who get to their 50th donation for example.” Shivute says.

So whether there’s more people unwell or too many people boozing (and forgetting) all we know is that the NamBTS needs your help. What can you do? Make a donation.

10 reasons to donate blood:

1. It will allow someone to live a full and active life. Donating blood to someone can save their life and not just in emergency situations.

Your red blood cells can also help people undergoing long-term treatment for cancer and blood diseases, as well as for treating anaemia and in certain operations.

2. One day this could be you

Over 25% of us will need blood at least once over our lifetime.

Whether it’s during childhood, an accident or cancer treatment there’s a decent chance that at some point in your life you will need blood too.

3. It’s safe and healthy!

Don’t worry, donating blood is completely safe! Everything is cleaned and sterilised and they are plenty of trained medical professions on hand to carry this out.

They will only take about one pint of blood which your body can replace in a flash.

4. Your plasma can provide a world of nutrients One of the main components of your blood is plasma. This provides proteins, nutrients and a clotting agent that is necessary to stop bleeding. So rest assure – nothing is ever wasted.

5. Help people in their fight against cancer

Platelets are tiny cells that can help people undergoing cancer treatment regain their strength, fight infections and make a quick and smooth recovery. Give them a helping hand.

6. Each donation you give can help up to three people. Now, that’s a donation worth giving!

7. Blood has a shelf life

Did you know someone needs blood every two seconds? Keeping up with demand is far from easy, especially because our blood has an expiry date.

Here’s the blood’s shelf-life:

Red cells: Up to 37-42 days

Plasma: Up to one year

Platelets: Up to five days

To add to the problem…

8. There are 8 different blood types

So maintaining sufficient stock isn’t always easy either.  Donate blood and find out which blood type you are! Interesting fact:

‘O’ is a particularly special blood type because it is the only type that can be given to anyone and everyone! Aren’t you wondering which one you are?

9. You can do it on your lunch break

The process only takes 30 minutes. No excuse ladies.

10. Get a free mini check-up!

Not only will you be helping save lives but you’ll also get your blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and iron levels checked. Not a bad deal, right?

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How can I beat the hangover?

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By Vincent Karuhanga

Waking up nauseous, irritable, with an unbearably dry mouth and a pounding headache. It’s a scene familiar to most people who have indulged in a heavy night’s drinking.

Dear Doctor: I take panadol to cure hangovers. Can I get a better alternative because even when I take 10 of these tablets, they do not help my headache and muscle pain. Please help. Tammy

Hangovers are likely to happen when one takes a lot of alcohol but for some people this can happen with only one drink.

Hangover symptoms include early morning with thirst, headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue rapid heartbeat, mood disturbance, blood shot eyes and muscle aches among others.

The best way to prevent hangovers is not to drink at all but if one has to do so, drinking a lot of water or fruit juices, before, during or after drinking is the best prevention. Also eating a greasy meal before (eggs contain cysteine, which may help combat hangover symptoms) can also help. Exercise raises ones metabolic rate, which helps clear toxins associated with metabolizing alcohol apart from availing oxygen which can increase the speed at which the body detoxifies harmful compounds. Vitamin B1 or Thiamine or B complex vitamins help prevent the buildup of substances in the brain, which may be associated with part of the headache.

Many Namibians take more alcohol to cure a hangover. This creates a numbing effect but much more water will be lost and creating a bigger hangover.

Paracetamol or Panadol in big doses can damage the liver and this may be worse when one has taken alcohol requiring that it should not be used in treating hangovers. Aspirin, Brufen and Diclofenac can also damage the stomach. In case one has severe headache or other pains and cannot do without a painkiller Brufen in small doses may be preferred to paracetamol. Better a peptic ulcer than a damaged liver.

Dear Doctor:I pass smelly gas these days. I even fear to go to church because people will know I fart excessively. I have taken drugs such as Double Colour and Charcoal but nothing has worked. Martin H.

Dear Martin, the gas you are talking about is formed as a byproduct of food digestion. However some of the gas in got through swallowing but most is produced from the remains of food digestion which are fermented by intestinal bacteria. To avoid painfully distending the abdomen, this gas has to be passed out by farting normally at a rate of about 18-22 times per day.

The gas mostly does not smell except if one has stool in the rectum or has eaten foods from which gaseous smelly products are formed (such as eggs, meats and cauliflower). Double colour capsules, usually antibiotics, are taken with a belief that the stomach is getting rotten due to germs. Unfortunately, antibiotics and “washing of the stomach” done these days can worsen imbalance of bacteria in the intestines and worsen the problem. That said, the presence of bacteria called microflora in the intestines may lead to bad gas odour. It is important to note that diseases that interfere with food digestion also present much undigested food to the intestinal bacteria whose feasting may lead to smelly gas.

Much as everyone passes gas, this process carries embarrassment when one is noticed in public to have passed gas. You need to reduce on foods such as those mentioned above that are likely to cause smelly gas but if this persists, visit a doctor to rule out medical problems. In the meantime, you may consider wearing anti-fart pants which have activated carbon.

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Men’s Clinic, hope for your member

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How do you tell her your shotgun goes off within seconds?

Complications of the manís pelvic area have long punished relationships all over the world.

Namibians seeking change would have to travel long distances to neighbouring countries, but it appears the solution may have come closer to home.

Dr. Keletso Nyathi runs the Menís Clinic in Maerua Mall Windhoek and after being operational only for a month, the clinic gets not less than five patients and over 50 enquiries a day.

ìThe guys are shy, but at the same time they want a solution to their problem so we are really getting good responses,î says Gershwin Swarthand, the doctorís assistant.

The manís sex organ can succumb to a number of obstacles, such as premature ejaculation and low libido, but the one driving a number of folk to the Menís Clinic is erectile dysfunction.

ìAbout 70 percent of the men coming through our doors have a weak erection. They are usually 40 or older and generally, this is the age when this becomes an issue, but they come because they want that last push,î says Swarthand.

But what causes this?

ìOne in ten men who smokes will experience a weak erection later in life, while two in ten who are overweight and three in ten who have high or low blood pressure will. A lot of it is about our previous actions catching up with us. When you drink too much, your arteries narrow down which means not enough blood is going to the penis. One of our treatments helps enhance your arteries,î Swarthand tells us.

Dr Nyathi shows us to his room, which he says is more than just a consulting room, but the inception of transformation.

ìWe donít just want to fix the immediate problem, because we know sex affects relationships. In fact, sex can even be linked to the wider gender based violence issue and we know if this will also be addressed if the former is solved,î he says.

The clinic of course does not only cater to old married men. There are also plenty of clients in their mid-20s reaching out and many of them are complaining about the size of their ëmembersí being inadequate to satisfy their partners.

ìWe have means to help them grow, but the key thing is to know that it is not about the length or width but the consistency of erection. We also find out that many of the men who come here have also tried other methods like Viagra and Cialis tablets, which have a lot of side effects like diarrhoea and dilutes the blood. Our medication only has one side effect, which is that the erect penis might not go down, but then again, many of our clients are seeking exactly that,î he concludes.

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