Health

Why should you be concerned if your doctor is a ‘designated service provider’?

You probably haven't a clue. Clearly I think you should be, for good reason, because there is a monumental battle going on between medical professionals and the medical aid administrators who sign contracts with 'designated service providers' or 'preferred providers' (DSPs). This battle is essentially for control of private medical practice. Those who control the…

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So, someone you know wants to become a doctor?

Every now and then someone young approaches me for advice on choosing medicine as a profession. They are all extremely bright, capable and enthusiastic semi-adults, with strong desires to change the world and to “make a difference”. With on average 6 000 applicants for 250 places at a medical training university, the odds are against all…

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The accident slope – an analogy for avoiding errors

Early in my training as a glider pilot my instructor showed me an excellent but simple analogy for ensuring my safe performance as a pilot. I have always remembered this lesson, which he called the “accident slope”, and have tried to apply it to my method of practising medicine, as well as the other “dangerous”…

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A little known history of cocaine (Part 2)

For part one of this series click here. As I noted in the last part of this series, cocaine became a “medical miracle” at the same time as medical science was legitimating itself as a modern form of enquiry. At first cocaine was lauded, especially between 1884 and 1899, as the first real topical anaesthetic…

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Waiting to inhale (Part 1)

By Gillian Schutte It’s a blistering hot afternoon when we arrive at the Barracks. This regimentally built cluster of council houses was erected in Wentworth in the 1970s and used to temporarily house part of the community that was forcibly removed from Cato Manor to Durban South in the 1974. Thirty-six years later the same…

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A little known history of cocaine (Part 1)

The use of drugs, such as cocaine, continue to feature regularly in the news. Drug users, moreover, continue to be condemned by the general media, being regarded as dirty, defiled, and criminal. However, very few people realise that for over 20 years cocaine was completely legal. Indeed, it was at one point described as a…

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Is the timing of Madiba’s passing an ANC political strategy?

I thought I’d said my last on the sad topic of Madiba’s illness. Tofolux would have certainly been pleased, as both my last two posts dealing with Madiba clearly upset him/her. But it was not Tofolux’s comment that got my attention. That honour belongs to BillyC, whose comment I initially disregarded as being impossible. It…

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In India, HIV history repeats itself

By Sharon Ekambaram Recently, Mumbai Aids activists took to the streets protesting the Indian government’s failure to protect people living with HIV from discrimination. More than 20 years after South African activists took up the same fight at home, the protests are a stark reminder that the battle for equality, dignity and access to life-saving…

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Urban circumcision, it’s not a bad thing

By Phozisa Mkele Every year there are fatalities of young boys in illegal initiation schools. This traditional practice is treated by some as a money-making scheme. With deaths and botched circumcisions on the rise, parents are opting for other alternatives. One such option that has become common in urban areas is having the circumcision undertaken…

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Impossible science: Zombie DNA and how you’re safer in a city

Whenever something goes wrong in my daily Johannesburg life, my mother — who I misguidedly call for words of comfort and solace — tells me that that’s what I get for “living in a place of wickedness”. (She harbours not-so-secret hopes of getting me to move to her bucolic paradise in deepest darkest Eastern Cape.)…

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