Category Archives: Health

Medical Marijuana To Tackle Opioid Abuse In Zimbabwe?

This is an article by Helen Fraser

Using drugs to fight drugs? It may sound strange, but reports from the USA seem to show that marijuana – technically an illegal substance in Zimbabwe – can lead to a marked decrease in opioid abuse. Given that Zimbabwe is currently suffering something of a crisis when it comes to drug abuse, with opioids like heroin being particularly problematic, could marijuana be used in a medicinal capacity to reduce opioid addiction within our country?

Opioid Addiction In Zimbabwe

Opioid addiction is something of a scourge the world over. Opioids like heroin are highly addictive, wreak havoc on bodies and minds, and destroy lives as people plunge to ever lower depths in their quest to obtain these illegal substances. Youth unemployment is exacerbating the problem within Zimbabwe, with some reports claiming that up to 65% of Zimbabwean youths may have drug-induced mental health problems. While opioids do no make up the entirety of Zimbabwe’s drug problem, they are certainly very much in evidence, and cause an awful lot of damage. Worryingly, because they adhere so closely to the brain’s own mechanisms, opioids are very hard to get ‘clean’ from. Rehabilitating an opioid addict is very hard work, which requires an awful lot of willpower and determination both on the part of the addict and those surrounding them. So it is little wonder that governments and health authorities around the world are looking with great interest at the apparent potential of marijuana to limit opioid abuse in the USA. But is it really worth using one drug to treat another? And will the American situation really be replicated in the very different circumstances of Zimbabwe?

Medical Marijuana

Marijuana, long considered a bete noir of drug squads everywhere, is currently experiencing something of a renaissance. A great many American states have fully legalised the substance, with many more legalising it for medicinal usage. Calls for the decriminalization of marijuana are currently sweeping the Western world. This follows the publication of substantial evidence suggesting that marijuana is not nearly as harmful as even alcohol, and can have a great many positive effects on human health. According to the recent science, marijuana is neither addictive nor directly damaging to human health. What is more, it can help to alleviate chronic pain, and be effective in the treatment of certain mental health disorders. Little wonder, therefore, that many governments are relaxing their anti-marijuana legislation. However, some maintain that there are definite problems with making marijuana illegal, and hold that doing so simply promotes irresponsible, intoxicated behavior. The debate rages on. However, where the drug has been licenced for medical usage in the USA, there has been a marked drop in opioid abuse.

Marijuana For Zimbabwe’s Addictions?

So, if America is seeing opioid addiction fall in areas where marijuana has been legalised, could the same work in Zimbabwe? Well, it’s a bit complicated. One of the main reasons for the opioid addiction drop in the USA is America’s phenomenal love of pharmaceuticals. A huge 80% of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs are consumed by Americans – and opioid painkillers are prominent in that number. The majority of opioid addicts within America are not addicted to illegal substances like heroin. They are instead addicted to prescription opioid analgesics like vicodin. Where medical marijuana has been legalised, the theory runs that people are choosing to take marijuana to manage their pain rather than opioid painkillers, thus resulting in a general drop in opioid addiction. Within Zimbabwe, of course, the prescription painkiller problem is not nearly so emphatic as it is in the USA, meaning that offering medical marijuana as an alternative option would not have quite the same effect. However, this is not to say that marijuana could not help at all. Marijuana, if used in a managed, supervised manner, has been proven to help with a variety of mental health conditions. Given that much drug abuse is related to mental health problems, and that mental health treatments are almost always a crucial aspect of drug treatment, it is not inconceivable that medical marijuana could be brought in to help Zimbabwean addicts to deal with their issues and kick their habits. However, the Zimbabwean attitude towards marijuana would first have to change significantly.

When you have chest pain

Dr Tendai Zuze —
AT some point in our lives, most of us will get chest pain. This can be a minor on and off sort of pain that is not really worrying or it can be severe life threatening pain that requires hospitalisation.

Whatever the scale, chest pain is a problem that frequently requires attention. When you go to see your doctor about chest pain, you have to be prepared to answer a few questions. Your doctor will want to know, among other things, how and when the pain started, where exactly it is located, the nature of pain and also if there are any other symptoms associated with it. It’s also important to know what aggravates the pain and what makes it better.

After considering the above symptoms, the doctor will have some idea of where the pain might be coming from.

He might then ask for a few tests to confirm his suspicions. Some people think an X-ray of the chest is essential every time they get chest pain, this is not so.

There are many possible causes of chest pain, some of which deserve medical attention. Heart related causes are some of the most significant and should be accorded the urgency they deserve. Heart related causes of chest pain include:

Heart attack. A heart attack is a result of a blood clot that’s blocking blood flow to your heart muscle.

Angina. Thick plaques can gradually build up on the inner walls of the arteries that carry blood to your heart. These plaques narrow the arteries and restrict the heart’s blood supply, particularly during exertion.

Aortic dissection. This life-threatening condition involves the main artery leading from your heart — your aorta. If the inner layers of this blood vessel separate, blood will be forced between the layers and can cause the aorta to rupture.

Pericarditis. This condition, an inflammation of the sac surrounding your heart, is short-lived and often related to a viral infection.

Although chest pain is commonly attributed to heart disease, many heart patients experience a vague discomfort and they often specifically mention that pain does not seem to be an adequate description. In general, chest discomfort related to a heart attack or another heart problem may be associated with one or more of the following:

Pressure, fullness or tightness in your chest Crushing or searing pain that radiates to your back, neck, jaw, shoulders and arms — particularly your left arm

Pain that lasts more than a few minutes, goes away and comes back or varies in intensity

Shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness or nausea Chest pain can also be caused by disorders of the digestive system, these include:

Heartburn. This painful, burning sensation behind your breastbone occurs when stomach acid washes up from your stomach into the oesophagus — the tube that connects your throat to your stomach.

Swallowing disorders. Disorders of the oesophagus can make swallowing difficult and even painful.

Gallbladder or pancreas problems. Gallstones or inflammation of your gallbladder or pancreas can cause abdominal pain that radiates to your chest.

Some types of chest pain are associated with injuries and other problems affecting the structures that make up the chest wall. Examples include:

Costochondritis. In this condition, the cartilage of your rib cage, particularly the cartilage that joins your ribs to your breastbone, becomes inflamed and painful.

Sore muscles. Chronic pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia, can produce persistent muscle-related chest pain.

Injured ribs. A bruised or broken rib can cause chest pain.

Many lung disorders can cause chest pain, including:

Pulmonary embolism. This cause of chest pain occurs when a blood clot becomes lodged in a lung (pulmonary) artery, blocking blood flow to lung tissue.

Pleurisy. If the membrane that covers your lungs becomes inflamed, it can cause chest pain that’s made worse when you inhale or cough.

Collapsed lung. The chest pain associated with a collapsed lung typically begins suddenly and can last for hours. A collapsed lung occurs when air leaks into the space between the lung and the ribs.

Pulmonary hypertension. High blood pressure in the arteries carrying blood to the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) also can produce chest pain.

Pneumonia, which is infection in the lungs If you are worried about chest pain, please visit your doctor.

Malaria drugs fail for first time on patients in UK

A KEY malaria treatment has failed for the first time in patients being treated in the UK, doctors say.

The drug combination was unable to cure four patients, who had all visited Africa, in early signs the parasite is evolving resistance.

A team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said it was too early to panic.

But it warned things could suddenly get worse and demanded an urgent appraisal of drug-resistance levels in Africa.

Malaria parasites are spread by bites from infected mosquitoes.

It is a major killer of the under-fives with one child dying from the disease every two minutes.

Between 1 500 and 2 000 people are treated for malaria in the UK each year – always after foreign travel.

Most are treated with the combination drug: artemether-lumefantrine.

But clinical reports, now detailed in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, showed the therapy failed in four patients between October 2015 and February 2016.

All initially responded to therapy and were sent home, but were readmitted around a month later when the infection rebounded.

Samples of the parasite that causes malaria were analysed at the Malaria Reference Laboratory at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Dr Colin Sutherland told the BBC News website: “It’s remarkable there’s been four apparent failures of treatment, there’s not been any other published account [in the UK].”

All of the patients were eventually treated using other therapies.

But the detailed analysis of the parasites suggested they were developing ways of resisting the effects of the front-line drugs.

‘Clinically challenging’
Dr Sutherland added: “It does feel like something is changing, but we’re not yet in a crisis.

“It is an early sign and we need to take it quite seriously as it may be snowballing into something with greater impact.”

Two of the cases were associated with travel to Uganda, one with Angola and one with Liberia – suggesting drug-resistant malaria could be emerging over wide regions of the continent.

Dr Sutherland added: “There has been anecdotal evidence in Africa of treatment failure on a scale that is clinically challenging.

“We need to go in and look carefully at drug efficacy.”

The malaria parasites all seemed to be evolving different mechanisms rather than there being one new type of resistant malaria parasite spreading through the continent.

The type of resistance is also clearly distinct from the form developing in South East Asia that has been causing huge international concern.

Dr Sutherland says doctors in the UK need to be aware the drugs might not work and argued current treatment guidelines may need to be reviewed.

Professor David Lalloo, Dean of Clinical Sciences and International Public Health at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said more studies are needed.

“This is an interesting and well conducted study and again emphasises the incredible ability of the malaria parasite to rapidly evolve to become resistant to antimalarial treatment,” he said.

“It is too early to fully evaluate the significance of these findings but the paper highlights the need to be constantly vigilant when treating patients with malaria and larger studies are certainly needed to explore this issue further.” – bbc.com.

Conqueror speaks victory

Catherine Murombedzi —
THERE is power in what one speaks and believes. Michelle Wadzanayi Maiseni looks back at the battle she overcame with cancer.

A tough road it was, but being determined and focused to beat cancer, she conquered the one time threat and says she knows the battles that many are facing today to overcome cancer. She says you do not have to just survive cancer, but to beat it and be a conqueror.

She lives to tell a story of victory attained and how to focus on positive thoughts that drive your destiny.

She is awaiting her O-Level results and bet she did well. Five years ago she attained five units in Grade Seven after having spent the whole year that she was sitting Grade Seven examinations in hospital.

She intends to study Maths, Chemistry and Biology at Advanced Level. She wants to be a medical doctor who will specialises in cancer. Here is an interview with the focus-driven Michelle:

How cancer lost the battle against me
I am the author of my story, the artist of my masterpiece.

Five years ago, my life hung on a loop thread. It seemed as if every new day was an added opportunity for cancer to push me towards the brink of death. It started off as minor pain in my left leg after I had fallen and hit on a rock during Physical Education at school in 2012. Little did anyone know that a malignant tumour had started growing in my leg. My mother would rub my foot every time the pain worsened, but to no avail.

I ended up sleeping very late and waking up early due to the excruciating pain I felt. I felt as if I was just breathing, but no longer alive.

The cancer was so aggressive that an intricate network of veins surrounded it, feeding this horrific intruder. My body was wasting away to the point where at least a third of it was the tumour. The tumour had grown so large that the skin around my leg had reached its elastic limit, making the skin very shiny. The cancer did not only bring about physical agony, but rather I was subjected to emotional trauma as well. The predicament implied that I was certainly going to lose my limb, a change I was not in any way ready to embrace! I was an athlete, a softball player and generally a hyperactive person, all that was going to stop. I could not bear the thought of having to live with one leg after I had already felt what it is like to have both for 12 years!

Amputation
On the day of amputation, February 24, 2012, I had comforted myself with the thought of having the coolest prosthesis. When I woke up at around 6pm, after the operation, I felt my toes and the whole limb. I could still feel the everyday pain and the heavy weight of the leg. This fooled me to conclude that my leg had into been amputated! Oh, how happy felt! However, reaching my hand to confirm this, I only touched the sheets I was covered with. This meant what I feared! It was gone.

Chemotherapy! Oh what a nightmare! The goal is pretty much to kill everything in your body without killing you. Chemotherapy makes you feel much worse than the cancer itself. During chemo you are more tired than you would have ever been. It is like a cloud passing over the sun and suddenly you are out. But you also find that you are stronger than you have ever been before. I had three cycles of chemo, it was hard to go through them, but I realised that I had to pick myself up and carry on.

Chemotherapy
Cancer is life-threatening, but recovery is life-changing. The same chemo that once ruined your life will give you a new perspective of life. It will give you a renewed will to live! The worst part of enduring cancer is that you see each day as a curse. The best part of conquering it is that you will start treating each day as a blessing.

Conquered
I did not survive, I conquered.

Cancer lost the battle against me because it originally planned to weaken me, but inadvertently made me stronger. It in fact helped me to realise the fighter within me. Not so many people have the courage to look at cancer in the eye and say catch me if you can!

Most people ask me what my secret is. How I keep on keeping on. Well, I realised that some things that we cannot change end up changing us so embrace the challenges of live as opportunities of self transformation. I believe God doesn’t give big battle to small soldiers.

If you are facing a huge problem, then it means you were born with the strength to overcome it. You just have to see it and use it! The extent of your vision is the boundary of your blessing. Cancer is tough, but I was tougher. I am a mountain mover, I am a table turner, I am a cancer victor.

Attitude
I am surprised why some people call me disabled….Disability is not based on being physically complete. Disability is attitude because there are people with one eye, but can still see more than those with both. There are people with one leg, but they run the race of life, finish and win it. I for one can never be deterred from achieving my dreams. So be rest assured that if ever I involve myself in politics, I will be the president. If ever I become a priest, I will be the Pope!

I would also like to thank God for my family. They stood by me throughout. My mother was my pillar of strength and I am grateful for that.

Defeat cancer
To those who are battling cancer, my advice is that no matter how dark the night may get, dawn must follow. No matter how painful the fight, cancer will go and you will live on. Gather all those shards of hope and develop the attitude of a fighter.

Dr Bernie Siegel found out that he could predict which of his cancer patients could go into remission by asking, “Do you want to live to be 100?”. Those with a deep sense of life purpose would answer “Yes!” And were the ones most likely to conquer. Cancer can defeat medicine, but it should never defeat your spirit. Grab cancer by the lapels and kick it .You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.

With Michelle speaking victory at 16, all battling cancer must know that it can be defeated. The battle is for the strong-willed. If Michelle fought the battle and won, you too can win and join Michelle in looking back and saying, cancer cells you have no place in my life.

Michelle is available to speak to fighters and organisations. You can get in touch here with me for her mother’s contact details.

Feedback:cathymwauyakufa@gmail.com