Naming and shaming

The WA Health Department has released the names of 18 restaurants prosecuted last year for unhygienic practices in a bid name ‘em and shame ‘em. The worst offenders were Golden Century Seafood Chinese Restaurant, Northbridge (fined $25,873 for dirty appliances, unprotected food, and keeping unclean and disrepaired premises), La Cascade Restaurant, Nedlands (fined $9250 for vermin in restaurant, unclean premises, failing to protect food from contamination, and keeping unclean and disrepaired appliances), Chicken Treat, Maddington (fined $9027), Bunbury French Hot Bread Shop (fined $7626), and Fast Eddy’s Cafe, Midland (fined $6957).

The Methuselah state

The life expectancy of Western Australians continues to rise and remains consistently higher than the Australian average according to the Population Health Indicators: Western Australia 2008 released by the WA Department of Health in December. WA males have an average lifespan of 79.1 years (nat. avg. 78.7) and for females 83.8 (nat. avg. 83.5), which has increased 3.7 years and 2.7 years for males and females respectively in the last decade. Other good news included a decrease in the death rate, a decrease in the number of smokers, and more people eating the recommended number of veggies. On the downside, the health and lifespan inequality continue to affect WA’s Aboriginal population and more males (hoons, we suspect) have been hospitalised for motor vehicles accidents.

No limits, no pens

After producing a bit of a media frenzy last year, Medicines Australia is reviewing its code of conduct. Although the peak body recorded over $30m in pharmaceutical spending on medical education events in 2008, Medicines Australia is resisting media and consumer group pressure to impose a limit on such spending. However, our cousins in the US have taken unprecedented action to curb pharma influence on medicos. Effective from January 1, the pharmaceutical industry has agreed to a voluntary moratorium on branded promotions items, including our old favorites the brand-name pen and mug. The code was created up by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The pharmaceutical industry is suffering a global downturn, so the effect of this, if any, on non-generic drugs could be very interesting to observe.

Dead man’s sperm

Man-at-the-helm Dr Kim Hames has called for laws to be clarified to allow WA women to use sperm from their dead partners to conceive. Under the current law, it is legal to retrieve sperm from dead men but illegal for fertility clinics to use it to help a woman conceive. The catalyst for a change in the law was the recent case of a 43 year-old woman from Geraldton who filed an urgent application in the Supreme Court to retrieve sperm from her partner. Her lawyer Abigail Rogers said the woman had “several conversations with her partner about having children” before he died. Last year, a 32 year-old woman won the right to retrieve sperm from her partner who died suddenly, and prior to that, 39 year-old Rosalina Susilawati was also successful in getting a court order to access sperm after her partner died. The matter has been referred to the Reproductive Technology Council.

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