Wake Up, Philippines!

Kidney stone treatment without surgery

Posted in Diseases/Disabilities, Health, Kidney by Erineus on May 12, 2009

Updated May 12, 2009 12:00 AM

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Non-invasive treatment: Lithotripsy treats kidney stones by sending focused ultrasonic energy or shock waves directly to the stone first located with fluoroscopy or ultrasound. The shock waves break a large stone into smaller stones that pass through the urinary system.

MANILA, Philippines – Kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. These develop from crystals that separate from the urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney. If the crystals remain small, they can travel through the urinary tract and pass out unnoticed while urinating. However, if the crystals accumulate and form a large stone or stones, they can impair the function of the kidneys that can obstruct the flow of urine and cause excruciating pain. In cases like these, treatment should be done. If left untreated, kidneys may be permanently damaged by an obstructing stone in only a few days.

Diet, dehydration (not drinking enough water when doing manual labor or indulging in sport), and family history are just a few of the reasons why stones occur.

The common symptoms of stone disease are sharp pain in the abdomen or lower back, fever, blood in the urine, and pain when urinating.

Kidney stones can be treated through surgery, the most common form of treatment. Surgery is painful, leaves a scar, and requires a long recovery period — about four to six weeks. Lithotripsy or extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the therapy of choice. This non-invasive technique uses shock waves instead of a knife to remove the stones from the kidney and urinary tract. The shockwaves pass harmlessly through body tissues. When the shock waves strike the kidney stone, cracks appear in the kidney stone’s surface. After about one hour, the stone is pulverized. The fragments pass out naturally during urination for a number of days or even weeks after lithotripsy.

Lithotripsy uses a simple device called a lithotripter. The physician localizes and then focuses shock waves directly on the stone. The lithotripter is very precise, delivering the right amount of energy to break the stone without damaging organs or surrounding tissues. The treatment usually consists of several thousand shocks which break the stone into very small fragments. These fragments are passed spontaneously during urination. The procedure usually lasts about one hour and is performed on an outpatient (OPD) basis. Re-treatment may be necessary in some cases to completely disintegrate larger stones.

The procedure is safe and performed worldwide with excellent results. It is non-invasive and conducted under the supervision of a highly-trained physician and technician. Occasional side effects are bruising around the treatment area, blood in urine, and pain for a few days following lithotripsy. While most people can undergo lithotripsy, inform your doctor if you have high blood pressure, a blood clotting disorder, or a urinary tract infection. Pregnant women must not undergo lithotripsy. To date, over 25,000 patients have been treated in the Philippines in the last 15 years with stone-free rates ranging from 70 to 100 percent, depending on the stone burden, location, and number of treatments.

For more information on non-surgical kidney stone treatment and related concerns, call De Los Santos Medical Center Stone Center at 723-0041-54 local 127 and 129 or direct line 726-3572 from Monday to Friday.


Foods to crave for less cramps

Posted in Health, Minerals, Nutrition by Erineus on May 12, 2009

WELL-BEING By Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit Updated May 12, 2009 12:00 AM

A reader asked in relation to our last feature on night cramps, “Which foods are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium? I’m always on the go and usually have to eat out?”

Cramps on the legs and feet at night are due to several factors, primary of which is dehydration (easily remedied by drinking eight glasses of pure and clean water daily), followed by deficiency in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Her question led me to a very helpful site — http://www.whfoods.com developed by author George Mateljan of Cooking Without Fat fame.

Voted best in 2004 of the Web’s Greatest Hits, this site has a list of the most wholesome foods that should be eaten every day.  There is also a food advisor facility, as well as quick and easy healthy cooking techniques.

Top Ten Sources

Armed with three lists from the site of the world’s healthiest foods ranking quality sources of potassium, magnesium, and calcium, we tabulated the results for the 10 top sources for all three nutrients:

• Spinach should not only be Popeye’s favorite source of strength but ours, too. because it tops the list as an excellent source of all three macrominerals — potassium, calcium, and magnesium!  One cup of boiled spinach, which is only 41 calories, provides 839 mg. of potassium, 157 mg. of magnesium, and 245 mg. of calcium.

• Swiss chard is next best, ranked as an excellent source for potassium and magnesium and a very good source for calcium. A cup of boiled Swiss chard is only 35 calories and provides 151 mg. of magnesium, 961 mg. of potassium, and 102 mg. of calcium.

• Cooked green turnips is an excellent source of calcium and a very good source of potassium and magnesium.  One cup, only 29 calories, provides 197 mg. of calcium, 292 mg. of potassium, and 32 mg. of magnesium. A cup of boiled green mustard, only 21 calories, is a source of 104 mg. of calcium, 283 mg. of potassium, and 21 mg. of magnesium.

• Boiled collard greens provide 494 mg. of potassium, 32 mg. of magnesium, and 226 mg. of calcium for a cup (49 calories).  Blackstrap molasses yield 118 mg. of calcium, 29 mg. of magnesium, and 341 mg. of potassium for a serving of two teaspoons (32 calories).

• The more readily available broccoli and basil join the elite list as seventh and eighth best sources, respectively.  A cup of steamed broccoli, only 44 calories, has 505 mg. of potassium, 39 mg. of magnesium, and 75 mg. of calcium.  While a serving of two teaspoons of dried ground basil, only eight calories, provides 63 mg. of calcium, 13 mg. of magnesium, and 103 mg. of potassium.

• Completing the list of 10 are kale and brussel sprouts.  A cup of boiled kale, only 36 calories, is a source for 296 mg. of potassium, 23 mg. of magnesium and 94 mg. of calcium.  While a cup of boiled brussel sprouts, 61 calories, provides 56 mg. of calcium, 31 mg. of magnesium, and 495 mg. of potassium.

To clarify, the question was for a single food source for all three macrominerals.  Incidentally, the 2004 advisory of the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences, according to the website, lists the adequate intake for these macrominerals for women 19 to 50 years of age as 4.7 grams of potassium, 1000 mg. of calcium, and 360 mg. of magnesium.

Each Nutrient Up Close

All three nutrients under study — magnesium, potassium, and calcium — are macrominerals, meaning our food must provide us with hundreds of milligrams of these minerals every day.

Magnesium is dubbed a “smoothie” mineral since it has the ability to relax our muscles.  The nerves also depend upon magnesium to avoid becoming overexcited.  Muscle weakness, tremor or spasm, imbalanced blood sugar levels, headaches as well as elevated blood pressure may indicate the need for more high-magnesium foods.

The World’s Healthiest Foods rich in magnesium rated boiled spinach and Swiss chard as best sources as already explained above. Other foods that belong to the top 10 sources include raw pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup at 187 calories provides 45 percent of daily value required) and baked or broiled halibut (four ounces at 159 calories provides 35 percent of the daily value required).  Other great sources are cooked soybeans, chinook salmon, raw sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cooked black beans, and navy beans.

While there is no limit set on magnesium intake through food sources, a limit of 350 mg. has been set for dietary supplements.  Toxicity symptoms for high levels of magnesium intake through supplementation include diarrhea, drowsiness, and a sense of weakness.

Magnesium and calcium act together to help regulate the body’s nerve and muscle tone.  Frequent bone fractures, muscle pain or spasms, tingling or numbness of feet, bone deformities, and growth retardation in children indicate a need for more high-calcium foods.

While spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, and blackstrap mollasses have already been included not only as excellent sources of calcium but magnesium and potassium as well, others that made the top 10 sources of calcium are low-fat yogurt (one cup at 155 calories provides 45 percent of the daily requirement) and sesame seeds (1/4 cup at 206 calories provides 35 percent of the daily requirement). Other good sources are goat’s milk, cow’s milk, and mozzarella cheese.

Muscle weakness, confusion, irritability, fatigue, heart problems, chronic diarrhea, regular intense exercise, and the use of diuretics increase the need for high-potassium foods.  The top 10 sources listed by World’s Healthiest Foods do not include potassium-rich banana. Why?  Because the sources are ranked based not only on the percentage value of the daily requirement served but also in terms of calories. One banana, 109 calories, provides only 13 percent of the daily requirement of potassium.  Providing 25 percent or more of the daily requirement are one cup boiled Swiss chard (35 calories), one cup cooked lima beans (216 calories), one cup cooked and diced yam (158 calories), one cup baked and diced winter squash (80 calories), one cup cooked soybeans (298 calories), and one cup avocado slices (235 calories).

Four more almost made the mark, namely boiled spinach, cooked pinto beans, papaya, and cooked lentils.

* * *

Post me a note at mylene@goldsgym.com.ph or mylenedayrit@gmail.com.
View previous articles of this column.

How to Select a Sound HMO

Posted in Health Care, HMO by Erineus on May 12, 2009

May 11, 2009, 4:13pm

The average life-span of a company-HMO relationship is three years. This was confirmed by Norman Amora, IntelliCare’s Assistant Vice President for Sales and Marketing. The termination of the HMO-client relationship is often triggered by successive failures of the HMO to deliver promised services.

But with IntelliCare’s outstanding performance and excellent client relationship, the average life-span is almost always surpassed.

The habit of changing HMO every three years or so can put tremendous stress on companies and most especially the employees, who will have the burden of orienting themselves again on how to avail the benefits of their health plans.

According to Amora, the cost of an HMO’s package remains the top consideration for companies. However, by focusing solely on the cost, some companies tend to overlook the corresponding benefits included in the HMO package.

Aside from the high cost of an HMO, another common problem that leads to the short life-span of HMO-client relationship is the problem on contract implementation and interpretation.

Among the most common reported problems are vagueness of the coverage and limits of the health plan, unclear procedure on how to use the health card and bad service (i.e. absence of quality doctors in the HMO accredited facilities).

With a client retention rate of over 90%, IntelliCare shares the reasons for its strong client retention.
These are pricing/premiums, benefit package, network, financial capability and service.

This is usually the primary consideration of most companies. Fair pricing are the key words.

As long as the package is priced justifiably with corresponding guarantee that the services enumerated in the package will be delivered efficiently, then all stakeholders will be satisfied and the client will likely be retained.

Any HMO benefit package must include the basics, such as access to clinics and tertiary hospitals. The benefit package must also be tailor fit to the company’s needs.

“To be able to tailor fit the health care package, the HR has to be involved with the health consultant of the provider,” Amora says.

Caution must be set when appraising the HMO benefit package. The package should be fair and must be in the most feasible of terms. Most importantly, it must be within the budget of the company.
An HMO’s strength is measured in terms of its network. This includes the hospitals, clinics, and other facilities as well as expert resources (i.e. doctors and specialists).


Unemployment hits 14 M

Posted in Labor, Surveys, Unemployment by Erineus on May 12, 2009
May 12, 2009, 7:27pm
May 12, 2009, 7:27pm

The unemployment rate in the country reached a new record-high of 34.2 percent or an estimated 14 million Filipinos, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results.

A nationwide survey fielded over Feb. 20-23 among 1,200 respondents, found out that unemployment among adults has increased from 27.9 percent (11 million Filipinos) in the previous quarter to 34.2 percent at present.

Malacañang immediately disputed the results of the SWS survey on higher unemployment rate while casting doubt on its polling methods.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the SWS survey was more of a perception rather than reality.

Remonde said the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) found that the latest survey from SWS is “not as accurate” as its own “labor force survey.”

“According to the DoLE, the labor force survey uses the internationally accepted standards. It has a very much wider universe and it is really based more on reality rather than perception,” he said in a news briefing.

Still, Remonde said government will take the SWS findings, whether accurate or not, into consideration to guide the government in providing more job opportunities for Filipinos.

The SWS survey found that of those unemployed, 13 percent voluntarily left their old job, while 12 percent were retrenched, consisting of nine percent who were laid off and three percent whose previous contracts were not renewed.

Meanwhile, six percent never worked before the time of the survey.

The independent pollster said SWS surveys on unemployment have been recorded at 20 percent and above since May, 2005, except for December, 2007 when it was at 17.5 percent.

SWS data since 1993 showed that unemployment was below 15 percent until March, 2004, and then ranged from 16.5 percent to 19 percent from August, 2004 to March, 2005.

“Over the past four quarters, adult unemployment is dominated by those who voluntarily left their old work, and those who were retrenched – either by getting laid off or by not having their contracts renewed,” SWS said.

The survey group explained that data on unemployment refers to the population of adults in the labor force.

“This is because respondents in the standard SWS surveys are those at least 18 years old. The 1993-2008 figures are consistently based on the traditional definition of unemployment as not working and at the same time looking for work. Those not working but not looking for work are excluded from the labor force; these are housewives, retired, disabled, students, etc.,” SWS explained.

It further cited that the official lower boundary of the labor force has always been 15 years of age.

It said that formerly, the “official definition” of unemployment was not working and looking for work.

However, SWS noted that from April, 2005 onward, the new official definition has included the “concept of availability for work; it subtracts those not available for work, even though looking for work, and adds those available for work but not seeking work for the following reasons: tired/believe no work is available, awaiting results of a job application, temporarily ill/disabled, bad weather, and waiting for rehire/job recall.”

It said that if the “official definition” is applied, the unemployment rate among adults 18 years old and above is 25.9 percent in the SWS February, 2009 survey.

“It is lower than when computed using the traditional definition because the correction for those looking for work but ‘not truly available’ is much larger than the correction for those ‘actually available’ though not looking for work at the moment,” SWS said.


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RP software piracy losses up in ‘08

Posted in Piracy by Erineus on May 12, 2009

By Alexander Villafania
First Posted 17:50:00 05/12/2009

MANILA, Philippines–The level of software piracy in the Philippines remains at 69 percent in 2008 but revenue losses increased to $202 million, according to a recent global report by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

Revenue losses from software piracy in 2007 were at $147 million, BSA said.

The losses in 2008 were largely due to the increase in number of new computers sold in the country, as well as falling exchange rate of the dollar against the Philippine peso, it said.

In its global software piracy report for 2008, BSA reported losses of $53 billion versus $48 billion in 2007.

In a teleconference with local media, BSA Asia Pacific Vice President and Regional Director Jeffrey Hardee said the majority of software piracy cases in the Philippines were from business organizations that have failed to comply with anti-piracy and intellectual property laws after they were found using unlicensed software.

He said the proliferation of pirated software installed in “white boxes” or non-branded computers have also contributed to the increase in revenue losses in the Philippines.

Hardee noted that downloading of pirated software from the Internet was still less than one percent of the total software piracy rate in the Philippines. But this is expected to grow faster as cheaper broadband services become available.

The BSA executive, however, pointed out that the growing usage of laptops and “netbook” computers was helping drive down piracy.

Many of these devices now come with pre-installed with operating systems, thus removing the need to install illegal versions of applications, he said.

Hardee said that netbook and laptop shipments in the Philippines were 16 percent of the total PC shipments in 2008.

BSA Philippines Consultant Bienvenido Marquez III said government raids against suspected users of pirated software and educational efforts led by both BSA and the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT) have proven effective. But the growth of the PC business was overtaken by piracy among users, he said.

He stressed the need for the Philippine government to strengthen implementation of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Internet Treaties, which the Philippines is a signatory.

“There should be more efforts to educate the public about the effects of piracy not just in the software industry but also in the economy of the country,” Marquez said.

The 2008 global piracy report, conducted by the BSA and research firm International Data Corporation, showed that piracy in the Asia Pacific region, where the Philippines is included, grew 61 percent in 2008.

In contrast, other regions such as Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, showed a decrease in software piracy rates.

Still, global piracy rate for 2008 is pegged at 41 percent from 38 percent in 2007. This is due to the increase in PC shipments in countries with software piracy rates, BSA said.

Software piracy worsens in Asia–study

Posted in Piracy by Erineus on May 12, 2009

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 15:13:00 05/12/2009

SINGAPORE–Software piracy in the Asia-Pacific region continued to grow last year, a study said Tuesday, driven by the rapid growth in computer sales and the availability of bootleg programs online.

The annual survey by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and industry research firm IDC showed that in 2008, an average of 61 percent of the region’s software were unlicensed.

The figure was up from 59 percent the previous year.

This led legal software vendors to lose S15.26 billion, up 8.3 percent from $14.09 billion the previous year, according to the study.

The global average of unlicensed software worsened to 41 percent in 2008 from 38 percent the previous year, causing losses of almost $53 billion, the study said.

“This increase in the average piracy rate is attributed to the mathematical outcome of more rapid growth of PC (personal computer) markets in economies of higher piracy rates,” said Jeffrey Hardee, BSA’s vice president and regional director.

“Even if piracy were to go down in every high-piracy country, their growing market share for PCs could drive the regional average up.”

Widespread use of the Internet was another factor behind the increase, the study said.

“The availability of pirated software on the Internet, which ironically is facilitated by increasing broadband penetration in the region, is also a major concern,” said Hardee.

Software includes operating systems, systems software like databases and security packages and application software like office packages, finance and tax packages and PC computer games.

Bangladesh was the biggest culprit in the region last year with a piracy rate of 92 percent, followed by Sri Lanka at 90 percent and Pakistan at 86 percent, the study showed.

Japan had the lowest rate, at 21 percent, followed by New Zealand at 22 percent and Australia at 26 percent.

In China, the average piracy rate dropped to 80 percent last year from 82 percent in 2007, the study showed.

The improvement in China is due to “more vigorous enforcement and education,” it said.

BSA is an industry group that works for copyright protection and counts among its members some of the world’s biggest technology companies, including Apple, IBM, Microsoft and Adobe.


World software piracy grows–study

Posted in Piracy by Erineus on May 12, 2009

By Diane Bartz
First Posted 13:19:00 05/12/2009

WASHINGTON–Software piracy grew last year, accounting for 41 percent of all PC software installed, with losses to companies estimated at $53 billion, the Business Software Alliance said on Tuesday.

Worldwide piracy rates rose from 38 percent of software in business and home computers in 2007 to 41 percent in 2008 despite successes in fighting piracy in China and Russia, according to the study done by market researcher IDC for the BSA.

Global PC software sales grew 14 percent last year to $88 billion.

While there was progress on piracy in some countries, with rates down in roughly half of the countries surveyed and flat in one-third, overall “the dollar figure is actually up,” said Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the BSA.

Holleyman said that while US piracy was about 20 percent of the total market, the lowest in the world, it was a major problem because more software was sold in the United States than anywhere else.

Holleyman said much of those losses came from small businesses that use unlicensed copies of popular software programs. They might have 50 PCs but only pay for rights to run the software on 25 of those machines. “The US has the highest single dollar loss,” he said.

China’s piracy rate had dropped from 90 percent of all software in 2004 to 80 percent last year while Russia’s piracy rate dropped five percentage points in the past year to 68 percent, the study found.

The progress in China came because the government decided to use only legitimate software, because Internet service providers cooperated in taking pirates off the Internet when asked, and because of other steps, said Holleyman.

The study found seven countries with piracy rates of 90 percent or higher: Georgia, Bangladesh, Armenia, Zimbabwe, Sri Landa, Azerbaijan and Moldova.