News in brief: Gout rates high and often untreated in Pacific/Maori people; Australia wins bronze in health services ranking; Long COVID uncommon in children


Gout rates high and often untreated in Pacific people

Rates of hospital admission for gout are fiveto eight times higher for people of Pacific Island and Maori background compared to the general population, a New Zealand study has found. A review of more than 1,000 hospitalisations for gout in New Zealand in 2019 found that rates were 129/100,000 for Pacific people, followed by 74/100,000 for Māori, with the lowest rates in non-Māori, non-Pacific peoples being 16/100,000. Rates of regular allopurinol usage were only 38% in people with a prior hospitalisation for gout, indicating a need to improve co-ordination between hospitals and primary care, said the study authors, including Professor Nicola Dalbeth of Auckland University, in Internal Medicine Journal.


Australia wins bronze in global health services ranking

The COVID-19 ravaged UK’s National Health Service has slipped from first place to fourth in a ranking of global health services in 11 high-income countries allowing Australia to step onto the podium in third place overall.

US think tank the Commonwealth Fund’s assessment of healthcare system performance looked at 71 measures across five areas – access to care, care process, administrative efficiency, equity, and healthcare outcomes.

It found the top-performing countries overall to be Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia, followed by the UK.

Australia was first in the domains of equity and health care outcomes, second in administrative efficiency but performed less well in care process and access to care.

The UK’s drop in rankings has been attributed to the impact of the pandemic on the overall health service.

The United States ranked last overall and in all but one domain, despite spending far more of its gross domestic product on health care than other countries.

New Zealand topped the domain of care process which measures activities such as preventive care, safe care, coordinated care, and engagement and patient preferences.


Long COVID uncommon in children, research finds

Children who develop COVID-19 typically have mild illness and recover within a week, with just 4.4% experiencing symptoms beyond a month and almost all recovering fully by eight weeks, a large UK study has found.

Researchers from King’s College London said their findings suggest that long illness duration after infection with SARS-CoV-2 “appears less common in children than in adults”.

The study, published in Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, looked at data reported to the ZOE COVID app between 1 September 2020 and 22 February 2021, during which time 1,734 children developed symptoms of COVID-19 and received a positive PCR test.

The data showed that children were ill for an average of six days. Older children were generally ill for longer than primary school aged children (an average of 7 days in 12-17 year olds versus 5 days in 5-11 year olds), and were also more likely to experience symptoms after the four-week mark (5.1% vs 3.1%, respectively).

Also, children in the cohort experienced an average of three symptoms in the first week of illness, most commonly headache (62.2%), fatigue (55.0%), anosmia and dysosmia (39.6%), fever (37.7%) and persistent cough (25.5%).

Typically, only two symptoms remained in those experiencing symptoms after a month, the most common being fatigue. However, almost all children had symptom resolution by eight weeks, “providing reassurance about long-term outcomes”, the researchers said.

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