Health-e News – Drowning in Sugar Video

Kim Harrisberg

With 10,000 new diabetes cases diagnosed every month, we are drowning in sugar – one of the most accessible, affordable and addictive of foods. This is Melanie’s story of losing her leg to diabetes, narrated by Dr Luvhengo, the Head of Surgery at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital. This, he says, is a health crisis worse than the HIV epidemic.

Health-e News – Parliament Finally Ready to Vote on Sugary Drinks Tax

Comment from SANCDA: Please note the Bill containing the SSB tax was passed by the Standing Committee on Finance yesterday with only 2 more steps (National Assembly and Council of Provinces) to go. Then the Health Promotion Levy will be part of a bundle of financial measures to be implemented on 1 April 2017. The rate is approximately half of what was originally proposed but still represents a good starting point for the battle on obesity and unwanted sugar.

HEALA public awareness campaign: Are you drinking yourself sick?


The Standing Committee on Finance voted yesterday (7 November) to adopt the Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of the Revenue Laws Bill, which includes the sugary drinks tax.

The Bill will go first to the National Assembly then to the National Council of Provinces before the month is out.

“We know everyone has grievances [against the tax] but this was the best we could do with the current balance of forces,” said committee chairperson Yunus Carrim. “We can’t tell its impact yet, so Parliament will need regular reports on the impact of the tax on job losses and on health.”

‘First time’

The committee has overseen four public hearings as well as an elaborate negotiation process in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

“This is the first time in 23 years that a tax law has been negotiated in Nedlac,” said Cosatu’s Matthew Parks.

Parks said the federation was pleased that government had made concessions on its original proposal of a 20 percent tax on all sugary drinks.

“Government has reduced the tax to 10 percent, exempted the first 4g of sugar per 100ml and excluded 100 percent pure fruit juices from the tax,” said Parks.

“Nedlac has adopted a jobs plan to mitigate against job losses. There has been an underlying crisis in the sugar industry since 2000 and around 20,000 jobs have already been lost, mainly because of cheap sugar being imported,” said Parks. “The jobs plan negotiated in Nedlac includes that the import tariff on sugar must be increased and that government must help small sugar farmers.”

Health promotion levy

We are confident that members of parliament will put the health of the millions of people who elected them before the narrow interests of the beverage and sugar industries and pass the bill as it stands.”

Other measures include an undertaking by the beverage industry to manufacture the labels for its plastic bottles in South Africa and to use locally produced phosphate in its production.

However, Parks said that Cosatu supported the health goal of the tax – which has been renamed a ‘health promotion levy’.

“There needs to be a meaningful commitment from government to ensure that the income foes towards health,” said Parks. “The Department of Health needs to have a public education campaign, particularly in schools, to change people’s behaviour.”

Carrim said the committee had considered four main issues in relation to the tax: “The impact on job losses, the impact on small African emerging farmers, what the Department of Health is doing to create awareness about the dangers of sugary drinks and how the levy can be used to address obesity.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party’s Alf Lees said the DA caucus had yet to decide whether to support the tax.

“We are confident that members of parliament will put the health of the millions of people who elected them before the narrow interests of the beverage and sugar industries and pass the bill as it stands,” said Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA) co-ordinator Tracey Malawana.

Heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other obesity-related diseases account for about 55% of deaths in South Africa. Diabetes alone claimed more than 25 000 lives in 2015, according to Statistics SA. Some 10 000 new cases are diagnosed at public health facilities each month.

South Africans are among the top 10 consumers of soft drinks in the world and research has shown that drinking just one sugary fizzy drink a day increases the chances of being overweight by 27% for adults and 55% for children, according to HEALA. – Health-e News.

Health-e Journalist Wins Award for Documentary on Life Esidimeni

Kyla Hermannsen a former journalist for Health-e has been part of the winning entries at the Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards for the Northern Region, for her documentary on Life Esidemeni, Dignity Denied.

Health-e in a statement has said that the documentary was partly produced while she was Hermannsen was still working at the organization. The new outlet has commented on how proud they were of the announcement and commends the journalist and the team comprised of Ashley Market, Tshepo Dhlamini, Tshidi Lechuba of eNCA’s Checkpoint, and freelance cameraman Shamiel Albertyn.

In a comment from the judges of the awards, “Journalism can influence awareness of what is happening in our country and drive public discourse. Months of investigation resulted in a series of reports that were thoroughly researched, poignantly told, well shot and edited – and exposed conditions contributing to the death of one of the subjects. This impactful reporting was subsequently even used during the official investigation.”

The documentary aired 16th August 2016 on Checkpoint a show on eTV and eNCA.

Health-e News – World Heart Day: learning to survive heart attacks

Heart and Stroke Foundation
World Heart Day, which happens every year on 29 September, will see iconic landmarks turned red in honour of the occasion with Table Mountain and the Wheel at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town being lit up on Friday night.

The day was created and led by the World Heart Federation (WHF) as an event designed to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the world’s biggest killer.

It is seen as a time to promote a heart-healthy lifestyle and improve health globally by encouraging people to make lifestyle changes and be good to their hearts.

The event has the backing of several high-level experts, who are keen to lend their voices to the cause.

Professor Karen Sliwa, Director of the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa and President-Elect of the World Heart Federation, said “World Heart Day is our chance to shine a light on the world’s biggest killer and work together to improve heart health. This includes highlighting the need for better care of patients with rheumatic heart disease and cardiac disease associated with pregnancy.”

Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, said “Around the world 1 in 10 people die prematurely from cardiovascular disease but the power to change this is in our hands. Making small lifestyle changes such as eating more fruit and vegetables, keeping active, reducing alcohol consumption and stopping smoking can save lives.”

President of the South African Heart Association, Professor Liesl Zuhlke – who is also Director of the Children’s Heart Disease Research Unit and a paediatric cardiologist, said “We are urging people to ‘share the power’ this World Heart Day by sharing healthy heart tips with friends and family and inspire people everywhere to be healthier. Our focus is on families and communities as children can have heart disease too and a healthy heart starts in childhood.”

Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death in South Africa. Heart disease, in particular, features prominently among the conditions that contributed to a significant rise in deaths from non-communicable diseases in 2015, according to Statistics South Africa.

All of them agree that neither heart attacks nor death as the result of a heart attack are inevitable and can be avoided by understanding and managing the risk factors involved.

It is possible for a person who suffers a heart attack to regain good health by getting the right treatment fast.

Medical organisations are using World Heart Day to raise awareness and highlight the seriousness of heart disease for all sections of South Africa’s population and help people take heart health into their own hands.

“We want every South African to understand the link between lifestyle and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr Shanil Naidoo, Medical Director of Boehringer Ingelheim. “Healthy lifestyle choices significantly decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes and have the further benefit of improving an individual’s quality of life.”

Spot the risks and neutralise them

A heart attack occurs when an artery carrying oxygen to the heart becomes blocked. The likelihood of a blockage increases when arteries are narrowed by fatty cholesterol deposits or plaque – a condition referred to as coronary artery disease.

Risk factors for the condition include smoking, an unhealthy diet, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol or a family history of heart disease.

Giving up smoking, modifying poor diets and increased exercise are all good solutions along with the critical management of diabetes, blood pressure and high cholesterol under medical supervision.

“Many South Africans have uncontrolled or undiagnosed hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol,” said Dr Naidoo.

A 2014 study showed that 78% of South Africans over 50 years had hypertension, with less than half of them being diagnosed and less than 7% having it under control.

“These individuals are placing themselves at an even higher risk of having heart attacks or strokes,” cautioned Naidoo.

“While we cannot change our genetics or age, it is important to understand that we need to be disciplined about lifestyles choices which include regular medical check-ups.”


Recognising a heart attack:

Speed of reaction is absolutely critical to surviving a heart attack and regaining good health. In some cases, a heart attack causes virtually instant death. But in many cases survival and recovery are perfectly possible – provided you know what to do and get to work instantly.

What does a heart attack feel like?

  • There is heavy pressure, tightness, unusual discomfort or crushing pain in the centre of the chest.
  • This may spread to the shoulders, arms, neck or jaw.
  • It may last more than 15 minutes and could stop or weaken and then return.
  • This may be accompanied by sweating, nausea, faintness or shortness of breath.
  • The pulse could be rapid or weak.

Important things to note

  • Women may have different symptoms to men, with more pronounced nausea, dizziness and anxiety.
  • A heart attack can be silent and produce no signs or symptoms.
  • A sharp stabbing pain in the left side of the chest is usually not heart pain.

What to do if you experience or witness a heart attack

  • If unexplained chest pain lasts for more than a few minutes, move quickly. Do not try and figure out the cause, rather call an ambulance and state that you are dealing with a suspected heart attack.
  • If the ambulance is delayed, access private transport to get to the emergency department of the nearest hospital. On arrival, advise the staff this is a suspected heart attack.
  • If you have been trained and you are near a person who loses consciousness due to these symptoms, perform chest compressions at a rate of about 100 per minute.

Call for Graphic Health Images on South African Cigarette Boxes – Health-E News