Some things to be excited about instead
In an issue dedicated to the old and the ageing, things to be sad and nostalgic for, here are instead a few happenings to be excited about. We are the N-E-Ws, after all.
On the healthcare front, Pharmac has just made it a whole bunch easier for people with ADHD to get access to their medication. Now allowing for three months’ prescriptions for Ritalin and other restricted medicine, this should save both time and money and hopefully boost adherence in the process. ADHD NZ chairman Darrin Bull says it is a good step towards normalising the condition in society. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the Ritalin drug trade that seems to flow as undercurrent with it all.
Shifting to equitable access, the proposal for a national hub for transgender care has been put out by the Professional Association for Transgender Health Aotearoa. This would standardise the care that our trans whanau receive, with a pre-covid survey revealing 20% did not obtain access to hormonal treatments, and long wait times for affirming treatments. On the back of wide support following the unfortunate visit of one English transphobe, the future is starting to look a little more positive, even if there is a long way to go.
In the same vein, Fofonga, a platform created in April by UoA, plans to increase Pacifika research. Headed by Seuta’afili Dr Patrick Thomsen (Vaimoso, Vaigaga), it reflects a commitment to get Pacifika peoples involved in research about their own communities and allow their voices to be heard. It should allow for more transdisciplinary research and more full-time positions. A step in the right direction for addressing inequities.
Moving a little to the side, the Auckland University Bioengineering Institute has an upcoming showcase at the Cloud from the 9-14 of May. This is on the back of work done by Dr Peng Du, awarded the 2022 University of Auckland Research Impact Award for his part in creating a non-invasive biomonitor: Gastric Alimetry. Used in hospitals around the world, it monitors gut activity without having to have needles or other items poked into you. For first years who drink too much and find themself in emergency care, this could save them serious discomfort.
Jumping right into the realm of regular engineering (stay with me), Dr Enrique del Rey Castillo, Dr Rick Henry, and PhD candidate Victor Li have discovered a method for strengthening buildings against earthquakes. Less applicable to Auckland, who instead opted for 53 volcanoes, but for the hundred-year-old buildings at Victoria and Otago, their teams will be secretly envious when they employ our fix. By wrapping weak spots with carbon-fibre strips, entire buildings can exceed the requirements for the building code. There’s a suggestion it might save rents in apartment buildings due to lower maintenance costs. Knowing landlords, who really knows?
On the sustainability front, UoA has become the first university to qualify for a sustainability loan, which will be used to fund the refurbishment of B201; moving the Faculty of Education and Social Work from Epsom to the City Centre. Calculations show that it will save up to 60% of the environmental impact of building a whole new complex, and the University plans to make it more accessible for students. Simon Neale, Director of Property Services, writes that the infrastructure will serve “students, academics, researchers and the University community for decades to come.” Though when the same students, academics, and researchers ask why they decided that $60 million was better spent moving people around rather than paying them a fair wage, I am sure many other questions will be raised.