Health in the Media

This blog looks at health issues in the news

Enda Kenny apology

Enda Kenny stopped short of a full apology for the State’s role in the admittance of women to the Magdalene Laundries. Rather than a full apology, Enda Kenny told the victims of the Laundries that he was “sorry that these people lived in that environment.” The statement came after the McAleese committee report, which was published at 4pm today, found clear evidence that the State was involved in the workhouses.
While Mr Kenny did acknowledge the State’s responsibility for facilitating 26.5 per cent of admissions to the laundries, he declined to apology for admissions which were outside of the Government.
Survivors of the laundries have expressed dissatisfaction with the Taoiseach’s initial response with one survivor, Maureen Sullivan, saying, “That is not an apology.”
Another resident, Mary Smyth, said she endured inhumane conditions in a laundry, which she said was worse than being in prison. “I will go to the grave with what happened. It will never ever leave me,” said Ms Smyth, also of the group.
Stephen O’Riordan who is spokesperson for Magdalene Survivors Together agreed saying, “This is not acceptable. It is a cop out,”
Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald described the laundries as an Irish form of slavery and asked the Taoiseach when a full apology would be issued to survivors of the Laundry.
In response to this the Taoiseach repeatedly emphasized the ways in which women entered the laundries that 10 per cent of women were sent to one by their family while 19 per cent of women entered themselves. He added that the report reflected the Ireland between the 1920s and 1950s which was a “harsh and uncompromising and authoritarian” country.
However Mary Lou McDonald reiterated her view that the women in the laundries were not “residents voluntarily offering their Labour [but] young, vulnerable women” who believed themselves to be prisoners.
The Taoiseach was also quick to clear up misinformation surrounding the laundries pointing out that the numbers involved were not 30,000 people but 10,012. He also said that the State was only involved in 26% of cases where women were sent to the Magdalene Laundries.

Mr Kenny said there would be a full Dail debate on the report in two weeks’ time when people had an opportunity to read the report.


Depression on the Rise in Ireland

sad person

The topic of depression hit the headlines today as Niall Quinn spoke out about how his wife Gillian stood by him during a period of crippling depression after quitting football. The soccer legend, who was a close friend of the late Gary Speed, fell into what he described as “a dark area” following his retirement from the sport at 35. He said of the time, “People were ringing and I was getting job offers and I wouldn’t even answer the phone.” Read more…

Memory Loss and Who It Effects

johanlb via Flickr

Experiencing memory Loss can be a frightening and disorientating experience for the many people it affects. This week the Daily Mail online reported that, according to  recent research, losing your memory as you get older may be reversible. Scientists say that they have identified neurons which damage the ability to form medium-term memories when not functioning properly. They say that by stimulating these  neurons,  a person’s memory may be restored. There are many different kinds of memory loss problems that a person can experience- it can be partial or total, and it is normal in older people (70 and older). Sudden memory loss can be caused by a brain trauma, a stroke, epilepsy, extreme mental illness, meningitis or alcoholism and may be permanent or temporary. When caused by medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s, the memory loss is gradual and tends to be permanent.

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How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

Merrick Brown via Flickr

A new campaign was launched yesterday by to encourage people in Ireland to drink at their own pace. The campaign is the second leg  of’s “Rethinking Our Drinking” initiative was launched on March 11th, 2010. The campaign tries to encourage people who drink to be responsible and to avoid abusing alcohol with impactful TV advertisement. It looks specifically at how people drink in Ireland- young people often drink more on a night out to keep up with their friends who may have a higher alcohol tolerance or to not appear like a “lightweight”. The ad shows a number of young people drinking socially while a second pair of hands forces them to drink more alcohol than they really want to. The ad is very accessible to younger people in that it promotes going out with friends and drinking while encouraging the viewer not to follow someone else when it comes to how much they drink. The ads attempt to make people re-think their drinking behaviour.’s also ran a  Rag Week ‘Rethinking our Drinking’  which cleverly incorporates the student’s night out with image of the effects of alcohol. For this campaign, images of passed out people were shown in cubicles which is where most people start to become aware that they are starting to get inebriated- away from the loud music and laughter.

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Can Depression Lead To Low Grades?

Bukutgirl via Flickr

Given the debilitating effect depression can have on a sufferer, it’s not surprising that it can effect every area of a person’s life. It can distort  how you see yourself, your life, and those around you. Sufferers of depression can see things in a more negative light than non-sufferers and sometimes are often find it difficult to see the positive in a situation and focus on the negatives. The symptoms can range from difficulty concentrating to thoughts of suicide and death. Sometimes the depression can be so severe that the person many suffer psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusion. The Counselling and Personal Development Service at DCU  provides a professional and completely confidential service, which is available to all registered DCU students free of charge. Health in the media spoke with a counselor from the Department about the benefits of seeing a counselor.

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What are the Dangers of Overuse of Antibiotics? via Flickr

The issue of overuse of antibiotics has raised it’s head again today. “Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill,” according to Director General Dr. Margaret Chan of the World Health Organisation. She added that, “”Some sophisticated interventions, like hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy, and care of preterm infants, would become far more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake,” she warned.” Antibiotics were first used in the 1940s and are no doubt one of the biggest advances in medicine with regard to helping heal infections. However the over-prescription of the pills  has resulted in the development of resistant bacteria- bacteria which used to be treatable with antibiotics but no longer respond to them. There’s also the risk of side-effects (especially on children) to consider which include stomach upset, diarrhea and even possible allergic reactions.

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Where are you getting your diet advice?

TMAB2003 via Flickr

There’s no doubt that getting advice on how to lose weight from advice columns  has become a regular occurrence with pages dedicated to diet  in most magazines. However it seems people are now beginning to put their trust in “ask the expert” sections for more serious issues. Questionable advice from “experts” advising people they’ve never met to cut out entire food groups which can do more good than harm, especially in children. A survey about food intolerance which was done last week found that 12 million people in Britain say they are intolerant to at least one food with  wheat, sugar, yeast and dairy product being blamed most often. However most of the people who took part in the survey had not being formally diagnosed and studies done prior to the survey found the number of sufferers to be at about  2 per cent of the population.

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Innovative New “I’ll Quit When I’m 30” Campaign Launched

tallmariah via flcker

“I’ll Quit When I’m 30.” – A phrase common among smokers today who are not quite ready to give up the cigarettes. Many young people are putting giving up smoking on the long finger in the belief that if they give up before their 30th birthday, they can reverse the damage smoking has done to their body. Now this demographic is being targeted  in a new anti-smoking campaign created by the Irish Cancer Society which emphasizes the effects that smoking can have on looks. It’s no secret that most people start smoking during their formative years.  Many teenagers begin the habit smoking due to being bombarded  by images of people in the media who they aspire to be like-  people who look impossibly independent, glamorous and skinny while inhaling on a cigarette.  They make this connection between smoking and looking sophisticated.

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