Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and treatments can lead to a number of physical and emotional challenges. In northern Ireland there are over 8,000 men living with and after prostate cancer and there are over 330,000 men living with the disease UK wide. More than three quarters (76 per cent) of those who have had treatment for prostate cancer report experiencing erectile dysfunction.

now, researchers at Ulster University are set to lead a £430,000 pioneering international research programme in the UK, the US and Canada, which aims to improve the sexual health of men, and their partners, after a prostate cancer diagnosis.

Ulster University’s new three-year study will see the creation of three new flexible support packages designed to address individual needs

and empower men and their partners to manage their sexual health challenges prior to and after treatment.

the resources include a web-based sexual recovery programme for men and their partners, an engagement tool to ensure quality communication between health professionals and men and partners, and an online sexual health training programme for health professionals caring for men living with prostate cancer.

the research will be led by Professor Eilís McCaughan at Ulster University’s Institute of nursing and Health Research, alongside colleagues from the northern Ireland Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital; ninewells Hospital, Dundee; University of Surrey; University of Southampton; University of Michigan; and University of toronto.

‘Sexual dysfunction experienced by men after prostate cancer treatment can have a devastating effect on them as individuals and on their relationships,’ said Professor McCaughan.

‘Men are often reluctant to discuss personal sexual issues and there is also evidence that health professionals have limited time available to provide necessary levels of care and support for men and their partners. the results of this new research will provide much-needed guidance and help restore sexual health to a level of satisfaction for both the man and his partner. the new resources we develop will provide them both with crucial need- to-know information on the possible consequences of the different forms of treatment and where to seek information and support to self- manage their condition.’


Despite the fact that the nI Assembly is in abeyance, awaiting the forthcoming Assembly elections, the Health Minister, Michelle o’neill, has launched a consultation on a reformed Individual funding Request (IfR) policy for access to specialist drugs.

the IfR process provides access to high cost specialist drugs where there is an agreed clinical need but where the drugs are not fully approved for routine use by nICE.

the consultation on the new proposed policy comes as a result of

an evaluation of the IfR process which found that the existing exceptionality criteria should be amended to remove the reference to 95 per cent; the establishment of regional scrutiny committee should be considered to ensure all IfR applications are subject to regionally consistent clinical input which includes peer review and that the existing IfR guidance should be revised to include greater transparency.

‘the outcome of the evaluation,’ said Ms o’neill, ‘showed that members of the public were often unclear about

the purpose of the IfR process and of how it worked in practice. I hope the new draft guidance will help to provide a clearer, more user-friendly explanation of the process.’

While the draft policy document and service user guide are out for consultation, the Department of Health will be progressing work to establish the Regional Scrutiny Committee which will be the new body responsible for making recommendations on Individual funding Requests.

the consultation process will run until 7 April 2017.


In recognition of the worthy efforts from all the community pharmacies that support and promote the work of Age nI, the charity has announced the winners of the Age nI Charity Awards 2016.

Individual Supporter of the Year – Siobhan Mcnulty, Melvin Pharmacy,

garrison. Referral Pharmacy of the Year – the Health Centre Pharmacy, Carrickfergus.

Pharmacy of the Year – Whitehouse Pharmacy, Derry/londonderry. Runner-up Pharmacy of the Year – Mathewson’s Pharmacy, Ballymoney.

together you CAn make a difference: • £100 funds ten benefit checks for vulnerable older people • £500 funds the weekly mini-bus service to ensure isolated older people have access to AgenI’s day centres • £1,000 funds running costs at a day centre for four weeks


Children born to mothers who take heartburn medication during pregnancy may have a greater risk of developing asthma, research from the University of Edinburgh has suggested.

those whose mothers had been prescribed medicines to treat acid reflux during pregnancy were more likely to be treated for asthma in childhood, a review of studies found.

However, experts say the potential link - which came to light by reviewing studies that had examined health records - is not conclusive. they say that the association could be caused by a separate, linked factor and that further research is needed to determine whether the medicines affect the health of children.

Advice for expectant mums should not change based on these findings, the researchers say, but further studies are needed. ‘our study,’ said Professor Aziz Sheikh, Co-director, Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research, University of Edinburgh, ‘reports an association between the onset of asthma in children and their mothers’ use of acid-suppressing medication during pregnancy. It is important to stress that this association does not prove that the medicines caused asthma in these children and further research is needed to better understand this link.’

Researchers led by the Universities of Edinburgh and tampere in finland reviewed eight previous studies involving more than 1.3 million children.

the team found that children born to mothers who had been prescribed acid-blocking drugs during pregnancy were at least one third more likely to have visited a doctor for symptoms of asthma.


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