Posted on Feb 23, 2016 by Travis Jones
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Zika Virus Wreaks Havoc
Our top story is perhaps the top story worldwide when it comes to health and wellbeing: The Zika Virus. This outbreak, seemingly originating from Brazil, has already affected thousands of people and newborn babies in over 20 countries, and, with the World Health Organization stating that the disease is likely to spread to nearly every country in the Western Hemisphere, government bodies everywhere are on alert. Already Zika has reached the United States, and countries as far away as Australia.
The virus itself is only really of concern to pregnant women and their unborn children. Spread mainly by the same Aedes mosquitoes that spread dengue and yellow fever, the Zika virus causes birth defects that lead to infants being born with undersized heads and underdeveloped brains, which could bring on lifelong difficulties for the children.
At the present time, there is no known cure for the Zika virus, although scientists and governments alike are working on controlling mosquito populations to aid in preventing the spread of the disease.
As another precautionary measure, some countries are even going so far as to ask their citizens to delay all plans for becoming pregnant for as long as the next 2 years.
For now, people should be diligent in ensuring they are protected from mosquitoes, especially for women who are or may become pregnant. Symptoms of the Zika virus include fever, rash, headache, joint pain and conjunctivitis.
People with plans to travel to the West from around the world are already cancelling their plans, and while it would be great to report on what exactly the impact of the virus will be, at this point the situation is still both volatile and fluid. All we can do is remind you to be safe, and hope that this situation is under control soon.
Diagnosis in the Waiting Room
Next, we look at a new idea that could change the way we all experience visiting the doctor’s office: Get diagnosed while you wait.
Thanks to a group of researchers in the U.S., if you show up at your doctor’s with generic symptoms like a cough, congestion or a runny nose, the nurse can immediately take a quick blood sample and load it into a machine, which can then inform the doctor of what is wrong with you before you even see them.
This is great news, as before these types of symptoms could be the result of something as benign as a cold, or from something more serious like pneumonia, so to truly know the issue with a patient previously lab tests had to be performed that could take up to 10 hours to receive the results of.
Now, thanks to this new idea, time at the doctor’s office, both in the waiting room and with the doctor, could be reduced, as better informed and more quickly informed doctors can provide an efficient diagnosis.
The researchers also highlighted that this new method could reduce the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria, as doctors may no longer prescribe anti-biotics as a stop gap measure towards fighting a patient’s illness before lab results are received.
With so many advantages over current systems, we hope to see this idea come to your doctor’s office sooner than later.
Greater Insurer Regulation in the EU
Finally, there is some New Year news for insurance companies operating in the European Union.
As of the beginning of 2016, a new directive for insurers in the EU, known as Solvency 2, now codifies and unites insurance industry regulations in member countries. This comes after over 10 years of negotiations concerning the legislation. Under the directive insurers can now get a single license that allows them to operate in all EU members states.
Not only does this bring EU insurance regulations together, it also aims to enhance consumer protections.
Another party that will be very interested in Solvency 2 is investors, as new regulations will ensure that insurance companies have enough capital on hand to weather potential economic storms. This should bolster investor confidence going forward.
The directive is not without its critics, as some highlight issues such as diversified insurers being favored over insurers that only sell one type of insurance and others say that the regulation makes government bonds too safe.
While a sweeping change such as this may be a headache for insurance companies and agents in the short term, it is easy to see how Solvency 2 is good news for the EU.
That’s it for this edition of the Prime Times. We’ll be back next month with another dose of health and insurance news. Until then, for all your international health insurance needs, be sure to check out PacificPrime.com!