Media releases

Netcare Group 2017 annual financial results

Trying market conditions place pressure on Netcare’s ability to grow, but the outlook for next year has improved

Monday, November 20 2017

“The 2017 financial year was an unusually difficult period for Netcare,” says group chief executive officer, Dr Richard Friedland.

“Market conditions in both South Africa and the United Kingdom placed pressure on our ability to grow, while funder-led demand management initiatives in both geographies impacted our results. South Africa experienced negative patient day growth for much of the year, and despite overall UK caseload volumes growing marginally, there was a fall in our higher revenue in-patient cases not fully offset by the increase in day cases.”

Key financial results for the year ended 30 September 2017 include:

  • Group revenue decreased by 9.6% to R34 125 million from R37 729 million, with the decline being attributable to currency conversion. In constant currency terms, revenue is broadly flat year-on-year, with a 1.2% increase in SA revenue being offset by a similar decrease in UK revenue.
  • Excluding exceptional items, normalised group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) declined by 22.7% to R4 265 million from
  • R5 518 million.
  • Normalised operating profit fell 28.1% to R2 966 million (2016: R4 128 million).
  • Normalised profit after taxation fell by 38.7% to R1 774 million, from R2 892 million.

The 2017 results also reflect some large, non-recurring transactions, including:

  • A capital profit on the sale of the old Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital (“CBMH”) land and buildings of R203 million (R169 million after tax);
  • A non-cash profit of R937 million (2016: loss of R1 858 million) after tax, arising on the revaluation of UK RPI swap instruments; and
  • Non-cash negative adjustments totalling R5 563 million relating to UK operations, comprising the impairment of property, plant and equipment (R1 540 million), recognition of onerous lease provisions (R1 669 million), and impairment of goodwill (R2 354 million).

Group adjusted headline earnings per share, from continuing operations, reduced by 24.6% to 149.6 cents (2016: 198.5 cents).

The significant non-cash UK impairments also impacted Netcare’s balance sheet, with total assets at year end reducing by 8.3% to R28 112 million, and shareholders’ equity decreasing 31.9% to R8 862 million (2016: R13 009 million). Due to higher debt balances and lower normalised earnings, the net debt to EBITDA ratio moderated to 1.5 times (2016: 1.0), with interest cover at 6.7 times (2016: 11.1).

South Africa

Revenue from continuing operations increased by 1.2% to R19 114 million; normalised EBITDA from continuing operations was lower by 3.7% at R3 975 million (2016: R4 126 million) with margins of 20.8% (2016: 21.8%); and normalised operating profit from continuing operations declining by 5.6% to R3 331 million (2016: R3 528 million).

SA Hospitals and Emergency Services
With healthcare funders implementing more stringent demand management strategies, patient days fell by 1.0%. Full week occupancy levels of 65.5% improved from 63.2% reported at the half-year, although occupancies are still lower than the 67.2% reported for 2016. Revenue per patient day increased by 6.4%, ahead of inflation due to an increase in the mix of higher complexity cases. The specialist base has grown by a net 136 doctors.

EBITDA excluding capital items, most notably the profit from the sale of the old Netcare CBMH land and buildings, decreased by 3.3% to R3 875 million (2016: R4 008 million) at an EBITDA margin of 21.1% (2016: 22.6%). Underlying EBITDA increased by 0.7% year-on-year at an EBITDA margin of 21.4% (2016: 22.3%). Margins have been adversely influenced largely by volume contraction and cost inflation, as well as rental charges on the new Netcare CBMH in Cape Town.

“Despite our significant focus on cost control – such as automation and centralisation of administrative processes, and sustainability programmes to control electricity, water and waste expenditure – the savings realised were not sufficient to absorb countervailing margin pressures in the current year,” says Dr Friedland.

SA Primary Care
The Primary Care division recently underwent positive structural changes, including the outsourcing of retail pharmacies to Clicks. The outsourced pharmacies continue to perform well under the new arrangement and have shown solid growth in scripts for the past 10 months. The division reported lower revenue as a result of the changes to its business model but the EBITDA margin reflected a positive improvement to 15.2% from 10.0%.

United Kingdom

“This was a particularly challenging year for our UK operations with an acceleration of demand management initiatives implemented by both the National Health Services (“NHS”) and private medical insurers,” notes Dr Friedland.

“Patient activity was impacted by a change in case mix in favour of more day cases, with reduced in-patient admissions.”

To address critical funding constraints within the UK’s public health system, the NHS is focusing on demand management strategies, which has led to the downgrading of NHS elective referrals in the short term and the introduction of triage and referral management centres. This has impacted several BMI Healthcare sites.

“However, such NHS strategies are generally expected to defer hospital treatment, rather than completely remove the need for it,” comments Dr Friedland. “We are consequently seeing the self-pay market absorbing some of the activity in the meantime.”

UK revenue decreased by 0.9% to £887.1 million (2016: £895.5 million) driven by the shift in case mix towards lower revenue cases.  Cost pressures also include labour costs which are not yet aligned to the decline in in-patient activity versus the growth in day cases. EBITDA fell 60.7%, before one-off costs, to £25.1 million from £63.8 million; with this margin deteriorating from 7.1% in 2016 to 2.8% in the current year. An operating loss of £20.6 million was reported (2016: profit of £28.7 million).

The combination of the weaker trading results and contractual rental commitments resulted in a review of the carrying value of property, plant and equipment and goodwill, as well as a consideration of onerous lease obligations. Consequently, non-cash accounting adjustments in the aggregate of R5 563 million (£316.3 million) were recognised in the 2017 results, allocated to the impairment of property, plant and equipment, onerous lease provisions and the impairment of goodwill.

“Netcare has reached agreement with the minority shareholders in General Healthcare Group (“GHG”) to acquire their interests in GHG, subject to certain conditions precedent. Once met, GHG will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Netcare and this will enable us to assume full operational and management control of our UK operations,” says Dr Friedland.

Outlook

In South Africa, Netcare expects patient days to continue the upward trend experienced over the past five months. With no short-term plans to increase bed count, existing capacity will be improved by converting beds to higher demand disciplines and transferring beds from under-utilised to higher demand facilities. The business expects to benefit from the restructuring of the Emergency Services business and improved performance from the new Primary Care day theatre and sub-acute facilities.

Reductions in the cost base will be driven by investment in IT and other technology and efficiency projects to mitigate underlying margin pressures. In addition, Netcare has embarked on a major IT digitalisation of its front end services and will be introducing electronic medical and nursing records across all divisions in a three-year roll-out programme.

Planned capital expenditure in SA during 2018 of approximately R1.35 billion covers the Netcare Milpark Hospital expansion project, other hospital refurbishments, upgrades of medical equipment and the growth of Netcare’s cancer services, day theatre and sub-acute networks.

The UK healthcare market is underpinned by strong long-term demand drivers. Notwithstanding this, the challenges prevalent in H2 2017 are unlikely to abate in H1 2018. The PMI market is expected to remain challenging, with shorter term demand in the NHS remaining uncertain due to on-going demand management strategies such as triage and referral management. The growth in NHS elective surgical waiting lists is expected to result in more patients choosing to pay for their own treatment and thus driving increases in self-pay volume.

The UK operation has embarked on a restructuring programme to address areas of underperformance and reduce its operating cost base. The company also expects to enter into renewed negotiations with its major external landlord regarding a reduction in rentals on 35 hospital properties.

For further information please refer to SENS Announcement, audio presentation as well as the accompanying slide presentation on http://www.netcare.co.za/Netcare-Investor-Relations.

Ends

Notes to journalists

Netcare (JSE: NTC) Netcare operates the largest private hospital, primary healthcare, emergency medical services and renal care networks in South Africa. In addition to its world-class acute private hospital services in SA and the UK (the latter offered through BMI Healthcare), Netcare provides:

  • primary healthcare services, occupational health and employee wellness services through Medicross;
  • emergency medical services through Netcare 911; and
  • renal dialysis through National Renal Care.

Netcare also has the distinction of being a leading private trainer of emergency medical and nursing personnel in the country.

Netcare’s core value is care. From this value flow four others, namely dignity, participation, truth and passion. We work hard to entrench these values in every action, decision and intervention we take with our patients, their families, our colleagues and communities.

For more information visit www.netcare.co.za

Issued by:           MNA on behalf of Netcare Limited
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:                   martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za or
                                pieter@mnapr.co.za

 

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A helpful guide to managing exam stress and improving wellness

Tips and advice on how you can avoid cracking under academic pressure

Thursday, November 16 2017

Withschool and university exams already in full swing, many South African students and their parents are feeling a sharp spike in their stress and anxiety levels. Although stress and anxiety during exams are unavoidable, it is vital not to allow stress to get the better of you, as it can have a tremendously negative impact on your overall health and well-being.

Managing your stress levels during such a stressful time may seem like an impossible task, but Dr Jothi Naidoo, psychiatrist at Netcare Alberlito Hospital says that there are some easy, healthy and cost-free ways of reducing stress while improving your quality of life.

“Although a certain level of stress can be healthy, as it can motivate us to knuckle down and get the job done, exam stress can be counterproductive when it gets out of hand as it will prevent you from performing at your best,” says Dr Naidoo. “That is why you should always make sure that you find ways to reduce your stress and anxiety levels, particularly during exam-time,” she adds.

Dr Naidoo provides these handy tips for students on how best to reduce stress levels during crunch time:

Exercise
“I cannot emphasise the importance of regular exercise enough. Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifter, that will make you feel better in no time. It will also help to clear your mind and assist you to avoid the gloomy, repetitive cycle of eat-sleep-study,” says Dr Naidoo.

Keep an eye on your diet
“Just like a car’s engine, what you put in will affect your performance. You cannot expect your body to perform at its best if you do not give it the fuel that it needs.

Ensure that you drink enough water, about two litres a day. Brain function and hydration are directly linked, meaning if your body is dehydrated, you will not be able to retain information as effectively nor will you be able to sleep properly. Lack of sleep and frustration due to not remembering your work will almost definitely lead to stress and anxiety,” Dr Naidoo notes.

“Also, remember to increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables you eat to allow your body to get the vitamins and minerals it requires to function properly. You can even consider asking your local medical practitioner about a vitamin supplement that you can take during exam time.”

“Eat regularly to keep your glucose levels steady and avoid quick, junk snacks like potato chips, sweets or chocolates. Never drink energy drinks as they contain immense amounts of caffeine and sugar that will put strain on your heart and will cause your insulin levels to spike,” she adds.

Talk about it
“This might seem like a cliché, but talking to your friends and family about the stress and anxiety you are experiencing could help to build your self-confidence and make you feel more relaxed and supported, which in turn will reduce your stress and anxiety levels. The social interaction will also take your mind off studying and exams for a while, giving you the break that you deserve,” says Dr Naidoo.

Plan your study schedule
“You can set your mind at ease by planning your study schedule well in advance. Begin revising early, even before the exams are announced, by reading through your class notes each day to make sure you understand them. This will make it easier to absorb and retain information when you start studying for exams.

The area in which you are planning to study must be a quiet, well lit and well ventilated. If you study in an area that is filled with distractions, you will struggle to memorise information adequately which will lead to frustration and stress,” Dr Naidoo notes.

She also says that it is important to make sure that your study schedule allows time for relaxation, fun and socialising. “By balancing your study times and relaxation times, you will be better able to get through all your work without strain or stress,” she adds.

Dr Naidoo concludes by warning against exam ‘post-mortem’ and encouraging South African students who are currently writing exams to stay positive and stress-free. 

“Exam ‘post-mortem’ is when you and your friends discuss the paper and compare answers after having written it. Many people experience extreme stress and anxiety when they realise that they answered a question incorrectly or that their answers do not match up with those of their friends,” says Dr Naidoo. “Avoid these conversations as far as possible as they may only upset you. You cannot go back and change your answers, so there is no point in worrying about it,” she adds.  

“Remember, an exam is only temporary and life continues long after the exam is over. Things might seem very intense at the moment, but if keep your goals in sight, stay motivated and look after your health and wellbeing, you will be able to perform at your best and get the results you deserve.”

Dr Jothi Naidoo can be contacted on 031 941 6871 or email, psychiatristjnaidoo@gmail.com

Ends

Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Alberlito Hospital
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:                   martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za, or 
pieter@mnapr.co.za

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‘Littlest Miracle’ brings hope this World Prematurity Day

Micro-prem baby Jazeel feeding well, making excellent progress

Wednesday, November 15 2017

Born at just 25 weeks and weighing only 395 grams, micro-premature baby Jazeel Hlophe is defying the odds as she grows stronger each day, so much so that she is expected to be discharged from Netcare Clinton Hospital soon after World Prematurity Day, commemorated on 17 November this year.

Pic:"Neonatologist Dr Klaas Mnisi describes Jazeel Hlophe, his smallest patient, as 'one of the miracles who show us what is possible’ when it comes to the care of micro-premature babies."

“Baby Jazeel was born extremely prematurely on 21 June this year, three months ahead of her anticipated due date of 3 October,” explains Dr Klaas Mnisi, a neonatologist practising at Netcare Clinton Hospital in Alberton.

“There is still some debate as to whether babies born at a gestational age of between 23 and 25 weeks have a reasonable prospect of survival. However, when you see how well Jazeel is doing, it is most encouraging. These days micro-premature babies have a better chance of surviving, and Jazeel is now thriving – she is one of the miracles who show us what is possible,” says Dr Mnisi, who points out that neonatology is a sub-specialisation of paediatrics.

Jazeel’s mother, Helen Sauls of Alberton, had pregnancy-induced hypertension, which led to the baby being born 15 weeks early, given the normal gestation period being 40 weeks.

“I am very excited about the prospect of taking my baby home, but obviously we do not want to rush. She has been in hospital for nearly 150 days and has gained a lot of weight and strength in that time. Jazeel now weighs just over 2.2kg and now drinks the whole bottle when I feed her. I am so grateful to Dr Mnisi and the staff of Netcare Clinton Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit [NICU] for taking such good care of my baby,” Helen says.

According to Dr Mnisi, there are no studies about babies who are born as prematurely as baby Jazeel. “She is one of the smallest I’ve heard of, and when the gynaecologist called me into the theatre when she was born, we were most surprised as she weighed less than 400g. The fact that she is a little girl gave her a better chance of survival, however, because female micro-prem babies generally tend to do better than male micro-prems.”

One aspect of the highly specialised care baby Jazeel received in the NICU was colostrum from Netcare Ncelisa human milk banks. “Jazeel’s gut was immature due to her premature birth, and giving her colostrum was the best way to prepare her gut for future feeding,” Dr Mnisi notes.

Mothers produce colostrum – also referred to as ‘liquid gold’ owing to its yellowish orange colour and highly beneficial properties – in the first few days after birth. It is highly nutritious and perfectly suits the needs of new-born babies, as well as being a rich source of natural antibodies to provide protection against disease causing bacteria and viruses.

Sr Anina Klut, a shift leader of Netcare Clinton Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, says that baby Jazeel has become a firm favourite with staff, having been in the unit for some four months. “We have never had such a small baby in our unit and we were all most concerned about her. She has proven to be a little ‘Wonder Woman’ and is growing each day, with lots of tender loving care from her mother.”

Sr Klut explains that the nurses wanted to do something special for baby Jazeel before she is discharged from hospital, and so they set to work making her a miniature ‘Wonder Woman’ super heroine cape and embroidering a Netcare babygrow with the words “Littlest Miracle”.

Speaking ahead of World Prematurity Day on Friday, Dr Mnisi says that the prospects for micropremature babies have improved significantly in recent years. “With resources like donated colostrum becoming available, we are likely to see more miracles like baby Jazeel growing up to be strong and healthy,” he concluded.

Baby Jazeel has made such remarkable progress that the nurses caring for her nicknamed her 'Wonder Woman' and made her a special miniature 'Wonder Woman' super heroine cape.

Baby Jazeel Hlophe was born extremely prematurely at a gestational age of only 25 weeks and weighing only 395 grams. She was seven days old when this photo was taken. Having spent close on 150 days in Netcare Clinton Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit under the care of neonatologist, Dr Klaas Mnisi, baby Jazeel now weighs 2.2kg and is expected to be discharged in the next few weeks.

Ends

Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Clinton Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za or pieter@mnapr.co.za

 

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Renowned level one trauma centre celebrates 25 years of lifesaving care

Former trauma patients of Netcare Milpark Hospital are living life to the fullest

Monday, November 13 2017

This week Netcare Milpark Hospital celebrated a quarter of a century of lifesaving care at its renowned trauma centre. As the first private hospital to be accredited as a Level 1 trauma centre by the Trauma Society of South Africa, the unit has assisted thousands of patients in the 25 years since its inception.

Photo: "Professor Ken Boffard, trauma surgeon and trauma director of Netcare Milpark Hospital’s level 1 trauma centre, was presented the Netcare Trauma Commemorative Lecture Award at the centre’s 25th anniversary event. Pictured are (from left to right) were: Mande Toubkin, general manager: emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment; René Grobler, trauma programme manager at Netcare Milpark Hospital; Professor Boffard; Sandile Mbele, Netcare’s Gauteng South West regional director; and Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division."

“The lifesaving care provided at Netcare Milpark Hospital’s trauma centre over the years has touched countless lives, not only those of our patients but also the lives of their loved ones,” says Mande Toubkin, general manager of Netcare’s Trauma Division.

“The team’s expertise and commitment to best practice, coupled with the dedication of the specialists and staff, help many critically injured patients on their path to recovery each year. To mark the 25th anniversary of Netcare Milpark Hospital’s trauma centre, we look back on some of the more unusual cases and check in with former patients to see the progress they have made.”

Man impaled on industrial crowbar now training for Comrades Marathon
One afternoon in January 2015, a team of trauma surgeons and nurses stood ready to receive engineering supervisor, Daniel de Wet, who was airlifted to the hospital after being impaled on a two-metre metal industrial crowbar, known as a ‘gwala’, 3.5km underground at a mine in Carletonville.

“I was using the gwala to stir up mud, because we were washing out an underground dam. I wanted to stand up on the suction pipe, which is about a metre high, and somehow I slipped,” Mr De Wet later recalled.

To Mr De Wet’s utter disbelief, he saw that he was impaled on the crowbar, which had penetrated his body at this groin area and had come out his back, just below his shoulder blade. Fortunately, after a struggle to bring him to the surface, Mr De Wet had the benefit of being airlifted to Netcare Milpark Hospital’s world class, level-one trauma centre by an experienced team of Netcare 911 paramedics. When he arrived, two surgical teams led by Professor Kenneth Boffard and Professor Elias Degiannis respectively, were ready to operate: one team concentrating on injuries in the abdomen and one on the chest area.

Once the crowbar was pulled free of Mr De Wet’s body, the doctors saw that the impalement had caused significant damage, destroying one kidney and damaging the small bowel and numerous blood vessels. Remarkably, although Mr De Wet lost a kidney, he made rapid progress and was discharged from hospital only 19 days after his dramatic accident.

“Everyone at Netcare Milpark Hospital who looked after me was absolutely caring. The trauma team, doctors and nurses went above and beyond the call of duty, not just treating my physical injuries but also showing great compassion for my state of mind and my wife’s emotional wellbeing. We are so grateful,” says Mr De Wet, who is now training for running the 2018 Comrades Marathon.

Plane crash survivor makes it to the finals of America’s Got Talent 2017
Kechi Okwuchi was a 16-year-old schoolgirl when she arrived at Netcare Milpark Hospital on 11 December 2005 on a mercy flight, a day after surviving a plane crash in Nigeria.

The teenager was in a critical condition with 65% burns to her body when she was arrived at the trauma centre, and was resuscitated by trauma surgeon, Professor Frank Plani, who now practises at the accredited level 1 trauma centre, Netcare Union Hospital. Professor Plani is also the trauma director and head of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and the co-chair of the Academic Division of Trauma Surgery at the University of the Witwatersrand.  

While she was at Netcare Milpark Hospital, where she spent more than seven months in the burns unit, Ms Okwuchi found that music helped her during recovery – something she recalled when she took part in the 2017 America’s Got Talent television contest.  In September, Ms Okwuchi reached the finals of the competition to the delight of the doctors and staff members who cared for her.

“One can only admire Kechi for all her tenacity and her achievements. It was truly gratifying to see her there on the stage. Hers is a tale of tenacity – and what an incredible talent she has,” Professor Plani says.

Johannesburg frostbite and hypothermia survivor steps into a new life
“I was crying out for help, but the sound of the birds drowned out my screams. I could hear a helicopter circling overhead, but I was powerless to attract attention.”

These are the words of Natasha Wong, who suffered hypothermia and frostbite after she slipped and hit her head, landing in a cold stream that runs through Johannesburg’s Delta Park on 31 July 2015.

Unable to move, Mrs Wong was missing for three days before she was rescued and taken to Netcare Milpark Hospital’s Level 1 accredited trauma centre. Thanks to the expert care she received, Mrs Wong narrowly avoided having her feet amputated.

Mrs Wong recently relocated to Cape Town and started a new job. “A lot of people may survive frostbite, but many will not recover to be fully abled. I still have a little nerve pain, but I have joined a walking club and I am thinking of taking up running next year. Last week I even wore high heels for the first time since the accident.”

“When you have an experience like this it makes you appreciate life – it is a real wake up call. If I can give one person hope, or make just one person conscious of the value of the everyday things that we tend to take for granted, that is a priceless gift,” she says.

“I want to thank the Netcare 911 paramedics who rescued me, and the doctors and staff of both Netcare Milpark and Netcare Rehabilitation hospitals, who were amazing.”

Chimp attack survivor launches trauma recovery programme and starts a family
United States citizen, Andrew Oberle, narrowly – some say ‘miraculously’ – survived an attack by chimpanzees in 2012 while volunteering at a great ape sanctuary in South Africa.

“The first thing I remember when I woke up from my induced coma at Netcare Milpark Hospital was seeing my mom and dad standing over me. Their faces looked both sad and relieved at the same time. Then my mom started asking me questions and I gradually remembered what had happened to me.”

It would be several weeks before he would be well enough to fly home to continue his recovery, but Mr Oberle was determined to reclaim his life. Now, some five years later, he has become a father for the first time and is director of development for the Oberle Institute, a trauma care programme at St Louis University that was named in his honour.

Mr Oberle thanked trauma surgeon, Dr Riaan Pretorius, and critical care specialist, Dr Paul Williams, for their lifesaving interventions and the support they showed his parents.

“I can’t thank my doctors, nurses, and other care providers enough for everything they did for me.  Without them, I wouldn’t be alive today.  They kept me breathing and helped me stay strong and healthy enough to make it back home and start a new life,” he notes.

The general manager of Netcare Milpark Hospital, Dr Justin Gavanescu, thanked the doctors and staff of the trauma centre for their consistent hard work in the service of patients.

“Netcare Milpark Hospital’s reputation as a flagship trauma centre is both hard-earned and well deserved. I congratulate them on 25 years of doing what they do best, saving lives and improving patients’ quality of life.  As we look ahead to the next 25 years, I wish the trauma team all the very best as we continue to provide world-class emergency care to people when they need us most,” he concluded.

Ends

Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Milpark Hospital and         Netcare Trauma Division
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:        martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za or  pieter@mnapr.co.za

 

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Hero award for boy who rescued his twin

Netcare 911 praises 11-year-old Luke for saving brother’s life

Thursday, November 9 2017

Very few 11-year-olds can say that they have saved a person’s life. Without the bravery and presence of mind of young Luke Bridle of Johannesburg, his twin brother David may not have survived his recent near-drowning experience.

“It is very rare to come across a child with the ability to act quickly and sensibly under such stressful and frightening circumstances,” says Craig Grindell, managing director of Netcare 911. “We were so impressed at how Luke helped to save his twin brother’s life that we decided to award him a special Netcare 911 bravery certificate.”

Photo:" Eleven-year-old Luke Bridle has been presented with a bravery certificate from Netcare 911 for helping to save his twin brother’s life. Netcare 911’s regional operations manager: Gauteng South West, Neill Visser (left), and Netcare 911 head of stakeholder relations, Carl de Montille (right), recently presented the certificate to Luke at his school, the Polly Shorts Academy in Weltevredenpark." 

According to the boys’ mother, Shandré Bridle, one afternoon in early September the twins were at home with their child minder who was giving David a bath.

“Our son David is disabled, and is also an epileptic. He and Luke have an extremely special bond and from a young age Luke has learned how he can help David when needed. My husband Brian was travelling at the time and I was driving home when I received a phone call that nearly made my heart stop,” she recalls.

The boys’ child minder had stepped out of the bathroom to fetch a towel when David suddenly had an epileptic seizure in the bathtub.

“His face went under the water and his body went rigid during the seizure, he fell forward and he was drowning in the bath. Thankfully, Luke immediately jumped into the bath to try to get David’s head out of the water. Our child minder came running in but it was very difficult for her and Luke to lift David out of the bath because of the seizure. It frightens me to think of it, but David could have drowned,” Shandré says.

The boys’ father, Brian, explains that, in a flash, Luke pulled the bath plug so that the water could drain out of the bath, however there was still concern that David could have breathed in water during the seizure. “Together the child minder and Luke managed to get him out of the bath and lay him over the woman’s knee so that the water could drain from his mouth. Luke helped to pummel his brother’s back to help expel any remaining fluid from his lungs.”

Luke pressed a panic button to alert the security company, then phoned their mother, who has first aid training, and over the phone she talked him through all the steps of how to check whether his twin was breathing and place him in the recovery position until emergency medical services provider Netcare 911 arrived.

The plucky Luke kept a cool head during the ordeal, and having established that his brother was breathing, did his best to keep David calm by talking to him and reassuring him until the paramedics arrived.

Netcare 911 advanced life support paramedic, Adrian King, who attended to the emergency says he was incredibly impressed at the way in which such a young child had responded to such an emergency situation.

“When we got there, Luke had placed his brother in the proper recovery position and kept checking that he was breathing. He did everything that should have been done, it was truly remarkable for a child of his age.”

King says that even when the paramedics were attending to David, Luke kept a watchful eye on his brother. “You could see he was very concerned. He kept asking if his brother was all right and we reassured him over and over again but he still kept asking ‘Have you checked he is breathing?’ It was very touching to see how devoted he is to his brother, and all his actions demonstrated the close bond they have.”

Fortunately, David made a full recovery after being admitted to Netcare Olivedale Hospital.

Luke was recently presented with a special bravery award from Netcare 911 at the boys’ school, the Polly Shorts Academy in Weltevreden Park. He and David both received Netcare 911 toy ambulance sets as a reminder of the heroic act of brotherly love.

 

Proud parents Brian and Shandré Bridle with their twin boys, Luke and David. Luke received a special Netcare 911 Hero Award from regional operations manager: Gauteng South West, Neill Visser (left), and Netcare 911 head of stakeholder relations, Carl de Montille (far right), for his bravery in saving his brother David (front) from drowning when he had an epileptic seizure in the bath.

“This little lifesaver is an exemplary example of the importance of keeping a cool head in an emergency situation, as this is the best way to assist someone in their time of need. This is easier said than done, but Netcare 911 is always on hand to offer emergency medical care and guidance in a crisis such as the one these twins faced so bravely,” Grindell concluded.

Ends

Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare 911
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:                   martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za or  pieter@mnapr.co.za

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SA laparoscopic surgical team teaches latest techniques to surgeons around the world

Laparoscopic surgical team performing a live teaching procedure.

Thursday, November 9 2017

A South African laparoscopic surgical team at Netcare Sunward Park Hospital in Boksburg near Johannesburg recently performed a live teaching procedure for the AIS Channel (Advances In Surgery), the largest educational forum for laparoscopic surgeons in the world.

“Only a few select surgical teams in the world have had the honour of being asked to perform such teaching procedures for the AIS Channel since its inception,” said Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division.

According to Du Plessis, the team was led by highly experienced laparoscopic gastrointestinal (GI) surgeon Dr Francois Schutte, who over his career has performed thousands of laparoscopic hernia repair procedures of various kinds.

“The highly intricate live-streamed primary hiatus hernia repair procedure, which was successfully undertaken on a 34-year-old man from Johannesburg, demonstrated the latest international advances in laparoscopic techniques and was streamed online via the AIS Channel to almost 15 000 viewers in 115 countries worldwide,” says Du Plessis.

“The fact that Dr Schutte and his team were invited to participate in this highly-regarded educational initiative, which included a comprehensive educational panel discussion on the surgical techniques demonstrated, highlights the high esteem they are held within the profession internationally,” he adds.

“I believe that it also shows that our local laparoscopic surgeons remain on par with, if not ahead of, the very best in the world.”

Dr Schutte, who was assisted in the live-streamed procedure by surgical partner, Dr Frans Badenhorst, says that the AIS Channel is one of the most influential educational forums available to laparoscopic surgeons internationally.

“We as a team were therefore deeply privileged when we were recently asked by AIS to participate in their educational programme,” he adds. “There are few greater honours than to be able to impart your knowledge and skills to esteemed colleagues around the globe.”

The Netcare Sunward Park Surgical team has in the past compiled a further two educational surgical videos that have both been published on the AIS Channel, the most recent being during September this year.

The surgery and interactive forum were held at Netcare Sunward Park Hospital and have been well received by laparoscopic surgeons worldwide, a great number of whom have expressed their appreciation of its value as a learning tool. The procedure and expert panel discussion can be viewed at www.aischannel.com.

Dr Schutte explains that a hiatus hernia is when part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm and into the chest area, which can result in severe acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

He says that the idea of the live surgery forum was to explore the various techniques, procedures and contentious issues surrounding primary hiatus hernia repairs. The surgical interventions demonstrated included a highly intricate laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication for the treatment of severe GERD.

 

The surgical team was led by highly experienced laparoscopic gastrointestinal (GI) surgeon, Dr Francois Schutte, who over his career has performed thousands of laparoscopic hernia repair procedures of various kinds. (Picture: Frameline Film & Television)

“In this time of rapid advances in medical technology, I believe that there is a need for a more widespread adoption of new, more effective and even safer surgical and anaesthetic approaches to laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication. The purpose of the live stream was to impart these important developments to our colleagues both locally and internationally,” he concludes.

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Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Sunward Park Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:        martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za or  pieter@mnapr.co.za

 

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Do you know what to do if your child is choking

Familiarising yourself with what actions to take could be lifesaving

Thursday, November 9 2017

While choking in children is not something you can necessarily prevent, knowing what action to take during a choking incident could save a life.

This is according to Dr Hennie Smit, who recently attended to two-year-old Reuben Botha who was rushed to the emergency department at Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital after an object became lodged in his throat. “Fortunately for Reuben we were able to remove the object. He was then intubated and after two days he was discharged without having suffered any complications as a result of the choking. 

Photo: "Relieved parents Doret and Rian Botha taking their son Reuben home from Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital after his lifesaving treatment."

“Witnessing a child choking can be very distressing, causing many parents or caregivers to panic and in some instances completely freeze up if they don’t know what to do. That is why it is always a good idea to familiarise yourself with what actions to take should you be present during a choking incident.”

When advising on what to do when a young child is choking, David Stanton, Head: Clinical Leadership at Netcare 911, emphasises the importance of keeping calm and acting quickly. “Speed is of the essence in any choking situation. Being able to dislodge a blockage quickly greatly minimises the risk of further complications. However, never try to remove a foreign object unless you can actually see it, as you can run the risk of pushing it further into the airway.

“Depending on their age, the child may not be able to communicate that they are choking. Therefore, as soon as you notice a baby or younger child is unable to cry, cough or talk, it is likely that something is blocking their airway. They may even turn bright red or blue. It is important to keep calm and think rationally about what you will need to do to best assist the child,” he says.

Below is Netcare 911’s guide to assisting a child or baby that may be choking:

“Remember, it is essential that emergency medical services are summoned as soon as possible when someone is choking because if these steps do not work, choking can very quickly result in the person losing consciousness and suffocating. The sooner paramedics are called, the sooner they will arrive on scene and the greater the chance of a positive outcome,” notes Stanton.
What to do if a child is choking:

  • Firstly, try to encourage them to cough. Often the child will forget to try this, and forceful coughing may successfully expel the object
  • If this doesn’t work, do the Heimlich manoeuvre:
    • Stand or kneel behind the child.
    • Wrap your arms around them, and make a fist with one hand. Place your fist against the stomach, just above the belly button.
    • Place your other hand over your fist. Position your body up against the child.
    • Give a series of five hard forceful squeezes. You are trying to force the air out of the child, in an attempt to dislodge the object.
    • Check in the mouth to see if you can see the object.  If you can see it, pull it out.
  • If the thrusts don’t work, then do a series of back blows:
    • Have the child positioned with the head as low as possible.
    • Hit the child forcefully between the shoulder blades.  Repeat this five times. Keep repeating Heimlich thrusts and back blows until the object is released or check if you can see the object to pull it out.

What to do if a baby is choking:

  • Lay the infant face down along your arm, with the head lower than the rest of the body.
  • Give five hard slaps on the baby’s back. You should do this with the intention of shaking the object loose, so don’t be too gentle.
  • If the object doesn’t come out, turn the baby on his/her back. While supporting the entire baby, place two fingers on the middle of the chest.  Give up to five hard chest thrusts.
  • Keep repeating black slaps and chest thrusts until the object comes out, or keep checking in the mouth to see if you can see the object.  If you can see it, pull it out.

If the object does not come out in the first few seconds, Stanton says it is essential to call for professional help. “If at any time, the baby or child becomes unresponsive, place them gently onto the floor.  Begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). When giving breaths, take a moment to look in the mouth and see if you can see the object, and remove it if possible.  You will need to continue CPR until help arrives, ” he concludes.
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Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:                   martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za, or pieter@mnapr.co.za

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Couple gains a new lease on life after metabolic surgery

Multidisciplinary support for patients at SASSO’s centre of the year

Wednesday, November 8 2017

Gastric bypass surgery is popularly associated with weight loss, however it is the health and wellness benefits, rather than the cosmetic changes, that can be achieved with holistic, multidisciplinary support that are the greatest benefits to be gained with this type of intervention.

Photo: "Since their gastric bypass operations, Marthinus and Cecilia Deetlefs have lost 33kg and 49kg respectively, and say they feel more energised since the procedures."

 

“Before my gastric bypass surgery in August last year, I weighed close on 117kg while my husband was at 143kg before his surgery at the end of March this year, and we both suffered from hypertension. I never would have believed that within a year we could feel so energetic and healthy as we do now. In fact, we no longer have to take blood pressure medicine, as our hypertension has been resolved since the surgery,” says 53-year-old Cecilia Deetlefs of Warner Beach, KwaZulu-Natal.

“Aside from the hypertension, my husband was suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea and he also started experiencing problems with one of his knees, leading an orthopaedic surgeon to advise that he would soon have to have a knee replacement.”

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a condition whereby the muscles of an individual’s airway relax to such an extent during deep sleep that the airway becomes blocked. The condition is commonly associated with obesity and can cause the sufferer to feel fatigued and have difficulty concentrating during the day. 

Thirty-three years ago, Cecilia and her husband Marthinus, now 58, both underwent vertical banded gastroplasty procedures whereby the size of the stomach is restricted with staples and synthetic mesh to reduce the volume it can accommodate. “We have both battled with our weight for much of our lives, and initially we did lose weight following the operations all those years ago,” she recalls. 

Over time, however, the synthetic mesh used in 1980s operation had caused excessive scarring to Cecilia’s stomach and this led to complications. “I never felt really well after that operation, and neither of us could eat fish, chicken or meat. We learned to live with that, but as the years went by we started gaining weight again and this negatively affected other aspects of our health too.”

Last year, Cecilia began to feel extremely sick and was unable to eat anything. Her general practitioner referred her to specialist surgeon, Dr Gert du Toit, who found that scarring and fibrosis resulting from the synthetic mesh used in her operation over 30 years ago had caused stricture of her stomach. He recommended a gastric bypass operation, during which he would be able to address the stricture.

“At first, I thought it was a strange suggestion to have a gastric bypass when I am unable to eat, and Dr Du Toit and I actually had a bit of a disagreement about it initially,” she recalls. “Then he explained how the procedure works, and how it could help to rectify some of the issues resulting from my surgery all those years ago, as well as obesity-related health conditions, including the hypertension from which I suffered, and I decided to go ahead with the operation.

“A few months after the procedure, I was feeling so much better. My husband made an appointment with Dr Du Toit to investigate whether a gastric bypass could be a suitable option to help him address the health problems he was facing.”

Dr Du Toit, who was recently recognised with the inaugural metabolic medicine and surgery ‘Centre of the Year’ award from the South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and metabolism (SASSO) for his work in laparoscopic gastric bypass procedures at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban, says that Cecilia’s operation was a particularly complex one.

“There was a lot of scar tissue in Mrs Deetlefs’ stomach that had to be removed with painstaking care as part of this gastric bypass. It was one of the more complicated cases I have seen in my 20-year career,” he explains. Dr Du Toit specialises in complex digestive laparoscopic procedures, which involve minimally invasive or ‘keyhole’ surgery associated with lower risk of complications than open surgery, particularly for obese patients, and shorter recovery times.

Dr Du Toit says that the surgery itself is only one aspect of the holistic treatment patients receive. “Sometimes surgery is not the solution best suited for the particular patient, and it is extremely important that a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals assess the patient and that on-going support is provided to secure the best possible outcome for them.”

The multidisciplinary team Dr Du Toit and his partner, gastroenterologist and surgeon Dr Ivor Funnell, work with includes an endocrinologist, physician, dietitian, psychiatrist or psychologist and biokineticist. This holistic approach helps to determine the most practical solution for each patient’s individual needs.

Dietitian Mandy Read provides patients with a nutritional plan to help them lose weight and change the consistency of the liver in preparation for the surgery. Mr Deetlefs lost 23kg on this diet ahead of his surgery, while Mrs Deetlefs lost 8kg ahead of her operation, as her procedure had to be done urgently to address the complications from her previous surgery.

“To help ensure lasting, quality outcomes, we remain in contact with patients and they are encouraged to attend monthly support group meetings. It is quite amazing to see the change in many of our patients – and it goes far beyond what can be achieved with surgery alone,” Dr Du Toit observes.

Since their gastric bypass operations, Marthinus and Cecilia Deetlefs have lost 33kg and 49kg respectively. In total, including the weight loss achieved from their pre-surgery diets, Cecilia has lost 57kg and Marthinus has lost 56Kg. She has achieved her goal weight of 68kg, while he aims to lose a further 15kg.

Cecilia says that she and her husband both have more vitality than they have had in years. “I never dreamed that I could feel like this, I have so much energy now and I feel like I’m 16 years old again. We work for a waste and garden refuse removal service, and we are both finding great enjoyment in getting physically involved. We have also found that we do not crave sweet or fatty foods any longer. I never used to enjoy salad, but now I just love healthy, fresh food – and, at last, I have been able to eat protein again.

“Since having his gastric bypass, my husband’s weight loss has cured his sleep apnoea and he has no need for the breathing device he previously had to sleep with every night – he hardly even snores anymore, and no longer feels exhausted during the day. In addition, he has been told that he will not require a knee replacement any longer because there is now far less strain on his knees,” she relates.

“Mrs Deetlefs is a great example of how people can really blossom after making positive changes in their lives and redefining themselves to be exactly who they want to be,” Dr Du Toit observes. “Watching her progress has been so rewarding. It’s like watching a flower open, and there is so much more to her transformation than just the weight loss aspect. She has so much more confidence, and this shines through strongly now,” he concluded.

Notes to editors:
Centres of excellence for metabolic medicine and surgery
There are currently five centres of excellence for metabolic medicine and surgery at Netcare hospitals, offering patients access to specialised bariatric surgery, including gastric bypass procedures.

These centres of excellence are located at Netcare Sunward Park Hospital in Boksburg, Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban, Netcare Greenacres Hospital in Port Elizabeth, Netcare N1 City Hospital in Cape Town, and Netcare Waterfall City Hospital in Midrand, Gauteng.  The centre at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital is the only internationally accredited centre for the treatment of bariatric and metabolic conditions in South Africa, and is the principal centre for the four other locally accredited centres of excellence located at Netcare hospitals.

The dedicated multi-disciplinary teams at these centres are comprised of surgeons, endocrinologists, psychiatrists, psychologists and dieticians, among others, in line with the protocols advocated by the South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and metabolism (SASSO), which is chaired by endocrinologist, Professor Tess van der Merwe. As director of the Centres of Excellence for Metabolic Medicine and Surgery of South Africa (CEMMS)(SA), Prof Van der Merwe oversees the work of the centres of excellence, including those based at Netcare hospitals.

The centres adhere to international practices to create a safe environment and to support obese patients with empathy and care. To comply with international standards, a database with statistics on each patient is maintained. Strict rules and regulations with regard to patients’ dietary environment, as well as care in ICU and wards are followed. Training facilities with specialised technology and equipment are also incorporated in the centres.  

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Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email:  martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za or   pieter@mnapr.co.za

 

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Johannesburg based women’s medical imaging centre achieves international MRI accreditation

Highly specialised radiology centre advocates comprehensive approach to breast health

Tuesday, November 7 2017

The radiology department at Netcare Park Lane Hospital in Johannesburg has been awarded international accreditation in breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) by the American College of Radiology (ACR). It is the first centre of its kind in South Africa to receive this accreditation.

“Parklane Radiology received the ACR gold seal of accreditation for three years following a recent review by ACR. Breast cancer patients are therefore assured of the highest levels of image quality and patient safety. We congratulate Parklane Radiology and the medical professionals practising there, as the accreditation affirms their considerable expertise in this field,” says Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division.

“MRI of the breast offers valuable information to oncologists and other breast care specialists about a number of breast conditions that may not be obtained using other imaging technologies such as mammography or ultrasound,” he adds. “The MRI is therefore an important additional tool in the diagnosis and treatment of many patients, particularly those who are at high risk of breast cancer due to abnormal genetics and family history.”

The women’s imaging department which forms part of Parklane Radiology at Netcare Park Lane Hospital was developed in recent years by diagnostic radiologists Dr Harry Said, Dr Peter Schoub, Dr Leora Sweidan and Dr Sandy Wise. The comprehensive breast imaging service offered includes MRI, MRI-guided biopsies, tomosynthesis mammography and ultrasound. They have developed a comprehensive, world-class service that is entirely dedicated to, and specialises in, women’s imaging.  

Dr Schoub says that the women’s imaging department works as part of an integrated, holistic team with other specialists at Netcare Park Lane Hospital, as well as with the Breast Care Centre of Excellence situated at Netcare Milpark Hospital. He adds that MRI is an extremely useful diagnostic tool in certain patients.

“Breast MRI is the most accurate imaging test available to detect breast cancer and is used to screen high risk patients, evaluate the extent of cancer, identify recurrent cancer and solve dilemmas presented by conventional imaging such as mammograms and ultrasounds,” explains Dr Schoub.

“It may also be used with other imaging approaches such as mammography and breast ultrasound to monitor a patient’s breast health, as it often detects smaller abnormalities in the breast that is not possible with other technologies such as mammography, and greatly assists in guiding breast cancer treatment plans,” he notes.

According to Dr Schoub, MRI can be extremely useful in younger female patients who tend to have denser breast tissue. As it does not use radiation, it can be used to conduct more regular breast screenings safely in younger women who are at high risk for developing breast cancer.

“Most breast MRIs are done following discussions between the radiologist and breast surgeon or oncologist. It plays a particularly important role in assessing the cancer extent and presence of multiple cancers. The knowledge gained from this scan helps the surgeons and oncologists to plan the most appropriate treatment for breast cancer patients.”
 
“Any facility performing breast MRIs must be capable of doing MRI guided biopsies – for example, if a small cancer is only visible on MRI, then it can only be sampled or biopsied by using MRI to localise the tumour.  At Parklane Radiology we have accumulated considerable experience both in interpreting breast MRI scans and performing MRI guided biopsies,” explains Dr Schoub.

ACR accreditation is only awarded to facilities meeting its strict practice parameters and technical standards, and after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field.

“Image quality, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility technology and equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance programmes are assessed,” says Dr Schoub. “The findings are reported to the ACR Committee on Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report that can be used for continuous practice improvement.

“We are exceptionally proud to have met the ACR’s stringent requirements and to be the first centre of this kind to be accredited in MRI by the ACR in South Africa,” concludes Dr Schoub.

More on the American College of Radiology (ACR)

The American College of Radiology (ACR) was founded in 1924 and is a professional medical society dedicated to serving patients and society by empowering radiology professionals to advance the practice, science and professions of radiological care.

The College serves more than 37 000 diagnostic/interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and medical physicists with programmes focusing on the practice of medical imaging and radiation oncology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.

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Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Park Lane Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:        martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za, or pieter@mnapr.co.za

 

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Free Saturday diabetes clinic offered by one of SA’s foremost physicians

Doctor shares her expertise in diabetes prevention and care with the less privileged

Monday, November 6 2017

Diabetes is a fast-growing problem in South Africa, with many people going undiagnosed and poorly treated for this increasingly common metabolic disorder. One of South Africa’s foremost physicians is reaching out to those who may not be aware that they are diabetic and those at risk of developing the condition in no-fee clinics.

“Poorly controlled diabetes can cause lasting harm to the body, and this is why it is so important that we not only reach undiagnosed diabetics but also improve patients’ knowledge about their disease,” says specialist physician, Dr Adri Kok, who practises at Netcare Union and Netcare Clinton hospitals.

Dr Kok has been donating her time and expertise by holding a free “diabetes day” within the community where the team provides blood glucose and lipid screening, as well as blood pressure testing and advice on preventing or managing diabetes. The annual meetings have attracted more than 150 patients and their families each time with the next taking place on 18th November 2017 from 09h00 to 11h30 at the Greek Hall, 11 Penzance Street, New Redruth in Alberton. To date more than 15 of these “diabetes days” have been held.

“People who are unaware that they have diabetes and are therefore not on appropriate treatment are at risk of developing a number of potentially severe complications. Many family members of people living with diabetes are totally unaware of their inherited risk, for example.”
According to Dr Kok the main types of diabetes may have similar symptoms, although their physiology and management are quite different.

“Symptoms of both types of diabetes include fatigue, persistent thirst, slow-healing wounds, weight loss, blurred vision, a frequent need to urinate, and thrush, although individuals do not necessarily experience all of these.

Both forms of the disease can over time cause serious complications if left untreated or with persistent poor treatment, including damage to blood vessels and vital organs such as the kidneys and the cardiovascular system. Both forms of diabetes if uncontrolled pose a risk for diabetic foot ulcers, blindness, coronary heart disease, strokes, and in some instances can result in a diabetic coma,” she explains.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, at least 2.2 million South Africans are living with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a health condition where a person’s body does not produce adequate amounts of insulin or cannot use insulin effectively due to insulin resistance. Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, is a hormone that converts sugars from food into energy needed to conduct our daily activities.

“There is growing awareness about increasing obesity rates worldwide, and Statistics South Africa’s Demographic and Health Survey 2016 found that more than two-thirds of women and nearly a third of South African men are classified as being overweight or obese,” she observes.

 

 

 

“This is especially concerning, as there is a significant correlation between being overweight and the development of type 2 diabetes, particularly where the individual has a genetic predisposition to the condition.

“This being said, it is not only people who are overweight who should be vigilant about diabetes, and it is advisable for anyone over the age of 45 to have their blood sugar levels tested annually.”

While type 2 diabetes is most prevalent in adulthood, Dr Kok says increasing numbers of younger people are being diagnosed with it, largely due to leading unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles. The 2012 South African Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES) indicated an increase in obesity prevalence from 10.6% to 18.1% among children two to five years old.

“Convenience foods high in fat and sugar, soft drinks together with the youth’s preference for ‘screen time’ over active pastimes, mean many more children and teenagers are becoming obese today than in decades gone by,” she adds.

“Through introducing healthy changes in your lifestyle, you can dramatically reduce your and your children’s risk of developing diabetes. Those who are diabetic can also better manage their condition through incorporating regular exercise and dietary principles alongside their individual treatment, and closely monitoring their blood sugar levels,” Dr Kok concluded.

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References and further reading

  • Statistics South Africa Demographic and Health Survey 2016 –

http://cdn.24.co.za/files/Cms/General/d/4776/e9776ca8f6a44f3099dbde892bb0afbb.pdf

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Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Union and Netcare Clinton hospitals
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:                   martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za or pieter@mnapr.co.za 

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