RSU Debate Highlights

On December 16th, 2017 “Debates For/Against” organised by Riga Stradins University’s Student Council were held (project manager: Ksenija Tarasova).

The format of the debates was not classical but followed the French thesis-antithesis-synthesis learning method, a balanced discussion between two knowledgeable debaters. We offer our short review of the debated topics.


Valdis Dakuļs and Guntis Balodis tried to come to a conclusion of whether a doctor should have to give the patient their private telephone number. Talking on the phone does make communication easier, but that doesn’t always ensure the quality of treatment. How are you supposed to diagnose the patient without seeing them? Of course, the patient probably feels safer knowing that at any moment you can call a specialist. Would you give out your phone number if you were a doctor?

How are you supposed to diagnose the patient without seeing them?

Aleksandra Gromova and Gabriela Saulīte discussed the pros and cons of screening for prostate-specific antigens (PSA) as a marker for prostate cancer. As it is the most commonly diagnosed malignant tumour in the male population, maybe it would be necessary to incorporate PSA as a screening method?

Although this antigen is not specific enough for prostate cancer because PSA can also be increased in the cases of benign prostate hyperplasia and prostatitis. Still, the level of PSA has a tendency to increase with age. Would screening for PSA be a waste of money? A better alternative is currently unavailable, but maybe soon this will change?

Veronika Jakupceviča and Diāna Vozņuka discussed same-sex parents. In 26 countries same-sex marriages have been legalised. A question arises: can same-sex parents do harm to their children? Or is it the social stigma that has the most negative effect? Maybe a child living in a same-sex foster family is better than living in a foster home?

…considering that bisphenol A is found in the urine 93% of people.

Artūrs Pētersons and Laura Škarsta discussed the harmful effects of bisphenol A in plastic packaging on the inner gland system. Research has been done on the toxic effects of bisphenol A on laboratory animals, as well as on how exposure to this substance leads to psychiatric development disorders in children, infertility, asthma and risks of developing other diseases.

However, these results have to be critically evaluated because in many research papers the number of participants was low and it is hard to say how much exposure to bisphenol A a person has had in their life considering that bisphenol A is found in the urine 93% of people. Also, correlation doesn’t always mean causation. For now, the US Food and Drug Administration permits a safe level of bisphenol A in food, although in many places in the world, using this substance to make baby bottles is illegal. The question remains – is bisphenol A harmful and needs to be banned?

Sleep provides consolidation of memory, yet the human brain can function adequately even without one night’s sleep.

Jānis Dāvis Osipovs and Līga Vīduša discussed the very topical question of whether or not we should give up sleep the night before an exam in favour of studying. Sleep provides consolidation of memory, yet the human brain can function adequately even without one night’s sleep.

Even though a lack of sleep increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol a quick power nap before or after the all-nighter will bring the levels back to normal. And in short-term goals an all-nighter has little to none negative effects on your overall health, but bear in mind – chronic sleep deprivation is ill-advised. Ultimately it’s just up to you and how you retain information better.

…more than 50% of those who begin treatment recover soon and can lead normal lives…

Marija Jurčenko and Veronika Jakupceviča gave their arguments for and against the implementation of state-funded psychotherapy visits in Latvia. The main reason against was the lack of healthcare funding for such an enterprise as one 45 minute session can cost a patient from 30 to 150 euros and around 8 to 40 visits are needed for a successful rehabilitation.

The results of psychotherapy treatment show that more than 50% of those who begin treatment recover soon and can lead normal lives – a strong and healthy population, in turn, will generate more income for the nation. The downside to fully state-funded psychotherapy might be the hyper-diagnosis of patients receiving therapy even if they do not necessarily need it. Maybe a semi-funded system would work, and how would we decide who needs therapy and who doesn’t?

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Photo sources:

  1. https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/537406168026175355/
  2. https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/AZWiXoDmn1qfUPZcQU9hMyn9SKg0L3EhuLsbNBSqvz6w283yBFsDWTI/
  3. https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/540994973978776858/
  4. https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/357191814189194799/
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