World Health Organization

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I idolized the American medical establishment. When I was a mere Blue Cross number-collecting lackey working at the front desk of the Emergency Room of Massachusetts General Hospital, I sometimes saw, slipping into the doctors’ lounge, notable people — doctors whose surname in footnotes graced the basic core medical textbooks I was using as parallel reading in France, to prepare myself for my American examinations in medicine. I never wanted to penetrate more than the lowest echelons of the American medical establishment when I returned from France.  I mean I doubted the Harvard-types would open their world to me easily, no matter how clever I was. I proved to be right.  At a Harvard-associated residency program, I was actually asked at the interview if anyone in my family was a Harvard University trained physician. I still remember the program chairman’s barely muffled laughter when I told him my father held a graduate degree from the Harvard University School of music. Read more on Drug Misuse in American Medicine Leads to Possible Catastrophe…

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Maybe if it’s “all in your head,” it’s in your brain chemistry

We women have spent so long and worked so hard for equality in rights, in education, and at work, that it may actually be hard to talk about how we are different.

The World Health Organization has been working on this, and knows a lot about what is going on.  Illnesses of the mind, problems with thinking and feeling and living, are only identified by doctors less than half the time. Three out of five people who have this kind of problem wait less than a year before seeing a doctor. This is true of both sexes. Read more on Mental Health In Women…

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Okay, an environmental group based in San Francisco says that 17% of our species are threatened by rising sea levels.

Yeah, I saw “An Inconvenient Truth” when it came out.  Al Gore did the best he could but he is not my choice for a scientific spokesman on global warming.

This being said, he had plenty of enthusiasm and seemed to be real.  My immediate reaction when I saw the film was “Yeah.  This looks like real science.”  I mean, when I was in prep school I actually thought Scientific American was more “fun” than “Seventeen”–  which my mother of blessed memory actually encouraged me to read, thinking it would somehow make me more socially acceptable or maybe even more “normal.” Read more on Global Warming Is Science Not Politics And It Is Affecting Humans…

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When I’m not on the internet, I generally catch the latest news on the car radio, like lots of other folks tied up in California freeway traffic.  Yesterday the question had been raised whether Foster Farms chicken was in some way associated with a salmonella outbreak. The company suggested that improper preparation of the raw chicken was responsible.

Not so.  Now the news reported by USA Today, whom I applaud for picking up this story, says that Foster Farms was also the origin of a salmonella outbreak in 2012 in Oregon and Washington that sickened 134 people in 13 states.

It is reasonable to ask, “What the hell is going on?” Read more on Playing Chicken With The Gvt. Shutdown…

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I kind of like ABC news, since they at least reported the news about azithromycin and a lot of other folks didn’t.

For more information, here is the original article, and here is the FDA safety announcement (this link leads to a PDF which will load in a separate window, but you must have the Adobe Acrobat reader – free – installed). Read more on Azithromycin Scare…

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As it turns out, this whole bit about the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry is a complex issue.  It’s well beyond anything that anyone would guess at first blush.  The best online summary is the position paper put out by Food Marketing Institute.  Curiously enough, it doesn’t have a year on it.  Based on the references, I’d guess it was probably around 2005.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of therapeutically low doses of antibiotics in feed.  However, very few studies were conducted.  They decided that giving little bits of antibiotics to animals would help avoid illness.  What this means in practical life is that they will grow faster and produce more meat prior to being slaughtered and eaten.

Everybody agrees that using too many antibiotics in humans can cause humans to become resistant to those antibiotics.  This has been blamed on everything from patients who want a prescription for an illness that isn’t caused by bacteria to doctors feeling they need to give a prescription to justify their fee.  This kind of talk has been around for a long time. Read more on Antibiotics in Livestock Feed Endanger The Entire World…

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I had trouble repressing tears as I read a recent article about conditions in a Mexican psychiatric hospital.

To me, accounts of wartime and man’s inhumanity to man pale next to what people of all cultures have, at one time or another, done with the seriously mentally ill. Read more on Still Some Psychiatric Hell Holes Left In The World…

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Some of the most vivid and memorable lectures I sat through in medical school were about bacteriology.  Our professor was a woman who was a consultant to the World Health Organization and who returned from assignments with dramatic first person stories about how she had collected trachoma samples from children in darkest Africa, and would thus help prevent their blindness.

She told us about Cholera, a horrible disease that killed quickly by diarrhea and subsequent dehydration.  A disease of poor hygiene that was found where people lived in congested settings and hygiene was tough to maintain. Did not even need antibiotics to save most of the lives; just hydration and electrolytes.  An illness apparently easy to prevent; there were pills to sterilize the water, simple public health interventions. But none of us were likely to ever see it.  We would all practice in civilized countries, like France. Vive la France. Read more on How Cholera Showed Up In Haiti…