Most astonishing health news of 2016
Diseases which destroyed a large part of the world hundreds of years ago are now completely eradicated.
Blind people have experienced sight and robots are now communicating in real time, with updated information they obtain from the magic of the internet.
But the key area many consider the most important application for technology must be healthcare and medicine. 2016 was a big year for many reasons, but let’s consider what people accomplished in terms of medical care and as a guide to a future of improved health.
The surprises of stress
Everyone knows that stress is bad for us, in a number of ways. But even if you accept it is not a good thing to have, many don’t realise just how bad it can be. 2016 revealed some crucial, new information about the extent to which stress can affect us. Stevan Hobfoll, PhD, the Judd and Marjorie Weinberg presidential professor and chair at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL, and member of the American Psychological Association (APA), told Medical News Today.
“Stress is significantly associated with virtually all the major areas of disease. Stress is seldom the root cause of disease, but rather interacts with our genetics and our state of our bodies in ways that accelerate disease.”
Everything from sleep deprivation to headaches are brought on by stress. But researchers have shown it goes much further. Diabetes, mental health issues and even teeth are affected by stress. As Healthline noted: “Researchers at the University of Miami found that when people find themselves in stressful situations, they are likely to consume 40 percent more food than normal.”
With the faster pace of the world, the enormous stresses of world events that shook everyone, you can expect stress to remain a constant of modern life. You should be taking extra measures to ensure stress doesn’t affect you as much and is not hindering you in any significant way.
South Africa has been the centre of enormous conflicts regarding healthcare – particularly with HIV/Aids. Activists have been prominent and vocal in their criticism of the government’s administration of these and other issues, bringing the world’s attention and sometimes even changing policy due to their efforts.
For example, Medical Brief reports:
“More than 1,000 health activists from the Fix the Patent Laws campaign, comprising 32 organisations, formed part of a protest to the SA Department of Trade and Industry over their dissatisfaction with expensive medicines for chronic diseases. According to the report, Doctors Without Borders [Médecins Sans Frontières] said in 2013 the South African government ‘committed to reforming South Africa’s patent laws in a draft National Policy on Intellectual Property. Yet three years later, nothing has changed and many people still suffer unnecessarily’.”
The well known Treatment Action Campaign even managed to fight against a health MEC. As BizCommunity notes: “Health lobby group the Treatment Action Campaign has been advocating for [Benny Malakoane’s] removal through its #firebenny campaign, claiming that the provincial health system has ‘limped from crisis to crisis with people who rely on it left traumatised by death and pain’ under Malakoane’s reign.”
Around the world, Doctors Without Borders has been on the frontlines, drawing the world’s attention to ravaged regions. They’ve been saving lives and helping everyone, regardless of nationality, religion, race and gender.
The growth of 3D printing in healthcare
Since it was first announced, 3D printing has been an obsession for many. For medical engineers, it offers various benefits that can help patients: fewer mistakes in design can happen due to how closely designers work on specific projects; less waste since products are produced out the printer, not carved out of raw material; items can be replicated and designs sent around the world without having to wait for delivery periods. In this way, healthcare is not only faster but more efficient.
As 3DPrint.com notes: “In 2014, medical 3D printing materials in healthcare alone had revenues of $284.7 million, and are actually estimated to grow at a faster compound annual growth rate than the rest of the industry. Medical and dental 3D printing materials are predicted to grow at a rate of 19.1% until 2020.”
These are all remarkable advances in healthcare, across a range of areas. Thing can only go upward from here.