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PR and Med Ed news in brief

Our weekly round-up of PR and medical education stories.

New guidelines for school meals

New guidelines on the nutritional value of processed foods such as beef burgers and sausages will be introduced into schools in England from September. Education Secretary Ruth Kelly is to reveal plans to tighten the health requirements for school meals. Parents will get more say on the quality of the food, she will reveal. The food industry, schools and nutritionists will also be consulted on what should be on menus, which have been criticised as "unhealthy". The announcements come amid concerns over rising rates of childhood obesity. After the consultations, the government says it will set up an independent "school food trust" to maintain standards.

Heart failure ignorance continues

Lack of awareness, diagnosis and treatment could be contributing to thousands of preventable deaths every year says a new survey. The Study group on Heart failure Awareness and Perception in Europe (SHAPE) report, shows widespread lack of knowledge on heart failure, with just 2 per cent of the UK population able to identify the symptoms. More than 65 per cent of the public wrongly thought that survival rates with heart failure were better than cancer, with 29 per cent believing that the disease was a result of ageing. Professor McMurray, cardiologist and professor of medical cardiology at the University of Glasgow said: “I would like to see UK GPs adhering more closely to treatment guidelines.”

Schizophrenia sufferers forget treatment

More than 50 per cent of people with schizophrenia forget to take their treatment, with 53 per cent feeling embarrassed or upset at having to take tablets daily says a UK survey of psychiatrists. Nearly 90 per cent of psychiatrists agreed that taking treatment as prescribed is the key to reducing the risk of a relapse. Besides this, 82 per cent of sufferers will relapse within the first five years of recovery from a first episode. Majorie Wallace, chief executive of SANE said: “People with schizophrenia often find it difficult to continue with the side effects of older treatments and complicated treatment regimes. We therefore need to find strategies to help people continue with treatment.”

Pfizer rolls out programmes

Pfizer has launched an information programme full of practical advice for people living with a medical condition. Brighter Living features friendly, informative tips on how to manage various illnesses on a daily basis. The booklet also looks at diet, work, exercise and holidays. In addition to sending regular newsletters, Pfizer is developing a website, www.brighter-living.co.uk for extra support. The company has also launched Pfizer for Women, on its company website - a section dedicated to health topics related to women. The site features various articles such as women's health news, information on medical topics and finding Pfizer treatments.

fpa receives award

The Family Planning Association (fpa) has won the Telephone Helpline Quality Standard Mark for its Sexual Health Direct Helpline. Staffed by nurses and trained advisors, the helpline supports over 60,000 callers a year about contraception, pregnancy planning, unplanned pregnancy and sexual health. Angela Reynolds, helpline and information services manager for fpa said: “We have always been recognised as an excellent source of advice by pharmacists, health professionals and the general public. The award is an enormous credit to the expertise of fpa's helpline staff and will reinforce the confidence that callers already have in the service.”

2nd September 2008

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