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Is there a doctor in the house?

Is there a doctor in the house?

Around 500 GPs and other delegates are converging on Christchurch this week for the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners' annual conference.

The conference is being held from Friday 25th July to Sunday 27th July at the Air Force Museum, Wigram, Christchurch and will be preceded by a one-day Quality Symposium on Thursday 24th July.

College President Tim Malloy says members are coming from all over New Zealand and will be joined by other general practice team members as well as senior leaders and decision makers from throughout the primary health sector. Attendees will have the opportunity to take part in more than 70 presentations and workshops covering everything from drinking during pregnancy to neurocognitive decline in old age.

They will be joined by the Minister of Health, Hon Tony Ryall, who is opening the conference.

Keynote speakers include Prof. Amanda Howe, President-elect of the World Organisation of Family Doctors, Dr Paresh Dawda from the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute, Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners in the United Kingdom, and Dr Tim Stokes, former senior clinical lecturer in primary care at Birmingham University who has just taken up the role of Professor of General Practice at the University of Otago.

Dr Malloy says the conference always provides a particularly valuable opportunity for GPs and other delegates to meet with a wider network of colleagues than they normally have in their daily work.

"We all need to share ideas, update ourselves on some of the latest health issues and research relevant to GPs, and the future direction for general practice in New Zealand generally and this conference is always a great forum for doing this.

"This year we're having the Quality Symposium immediately before the conference and we are encouraged by the level of support we've received for this.

"In terms of continuing medical education, we're also pleased to offer another strong peer-to-peer learning programme. We've found delegates really enjoy learning from other GPs who have expertise in a particular area."

Examples of presentations include:

Neurocognitive decline and how to maintain our connections
Dr Tim Ewer, Mapua Health Centre

Dr Ewer presents a review of recent research in neurocognitive decline looking at both possible causative factors and options to minimise the potential for decline through diet, nutrients, exercise and other behavioural interventions.

Dr Ewer says there is a wealth of scientific information about the aetiology and likely useful interventions for keeping our neurons working effectively, maintaining our vast neuronal networks and encouraging neuroplasticity into old age.

There is an array of nutritional and lifestyle interventions which can have a significant impact on preventing and limiting mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia, he says.

Whose problem is drinking in pregnancy?
John McMenamin and Sue Paton, Health Promotion Agency

While alcohol consumption during pregnancy can result in a child being born with a range of preventable and lifelong physical, mental, behavioural and learning disabilities, many women continue to drink while pregnant or when planning to become pregnant.

Recent research shows between 29 and 34 percent of New Zealand women have reported consuming alcohol while pregnant. Other research suggests 60 to 70 percent of women planning a pregnancy continue to drink and a number of these women consume four or more standard drinks.

The authors say these results suggest there is a lot more to do to inform women of the impact alcohol can have on the unborn child. Their workshop will explore the role health professional can play in communicating this message.

The darker side of brightness – vitamin D deficiency in childhood
Dr Annie Judkins, Newtown Union Health Service, Wellington

The Newtown Union Health Service implemented a process for treating and preventing vitamin D deficiency for women and breast-feeding babies.
It succeeded in virtually eliminating rickets in its community, but say with limited subsidised treatment options in a poor and at risk community, they remain concerned about the impact of vitamin D deficiency on vulnerable children.

Their research, assisting Massey University in their vitamin D deficiency in pre-school children study, identified ongoing cross-cultural vitamin D deficiency in their high risk community.

Dr Judkins says they now need to decide whether to spend resources on testing vitamin D levels or treating universally. They have to decide how hard to press for improved affordable access to daily vitamin D supplementation and are left with the question is second-best or third-best practice okay?

How general practices can respond to patient's cannabis use
Dr Susie Tarnay, Pegasus Health, Christchurch

Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in New Zealand, and is used by all sectors of society.

Cannabis use may lead to medical, psychological and social harms, some of which may be long-term. Adverse effects of cannabis may include respiratory tract damage, sleep disorders, anxiety and doubled risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Dr Tarnay notes that most users do not perceive a need for, or seek, treatment so opportunistic assessment is important.
A collaborative approach is recommended between primary health providers to ensure patients receive consistent messages and care from the broader primary healthcare team.


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