Sunday, May 10, 2009

Humble The Poet

A million here
A million there
Two million dyin from malaria
Who really cares

Happy Mother's Day

The New York Times has a great piece on celebrating mothers around the world. They ask, What Do You Give the Developing World for Mother’s Day? In five different pieces they explore the developments which have helped and have the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of women and children across the globe:

A Birth Pill
An inexpensive medicine could save lives.

A Dose of Care
Counseling should be an important part of food aid programs.

An Education
Make going to school affordable.

A Safer Labor
Provide clinics with the basics to preform Caesarean deliveries.

A Custom Drug
Research to better medicate mothers-to-be.
Happy Mothers Day!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Operation Walk

I was especially proud when I heard about Operation Walk - an organization established by Harpal Singh Khanuja and his wife Maria Khanuja. The non-profit organization is dedicated to providing free knee and hip replacements to underserved people around the world. The concept behind the organization was to perform complicated surgeries on people in developing countries, “where arthritis progresses to its end stages and reconstructing joints becomes technically challenging.” Often times, it is people who are most at need who cannot afford the surgery. A news article discusses Operation Walk’s recent trip to Lima, Peru where they performed 48 surgeries to replace knee and hip joints. Here on TLH we like to highlight examples of seva - this is another important example of what it means to do selfless service.

The organization’s goal is to replicate the Peru mission to Panjab where the need is also great (some of which can be attributed to the chemical farming of the Green Revolution).

The goal is to learn the ropes and move on to Punjab, Harpal Singh said. “It’s done more than cross my mind.” To coordinate a trip to India would require an extra week’s stay and extra money for cargo, lodging and food. He was initially ready to go to Punjab this year, but when it came time to select a location last November, the Mumbai bombings scared many of the volunteers. Some of them had not been outside of the state of Maryland before the trip to Peru. Perhaps they needed one more trip under their belt, and wait another year to go to Punjab, Harpal Singh said.

“Our community is very eager to have this done in their own area,” he said. “In some respect, a group of sardars or Sikhs doing seva outside Punjab is more of an education.”
Read more at The Langar Hall.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Nobel Prize for Public Health?

An excellent piece from Nicholas Kristof in the NYT discussing how the recent Swine Flu scare reinforces a flawed medical system.
Think of the 47 million Americans who lack insurance. They are less likely to receive flu vaccines (which might or might not help), less likely to receive prompt care when they get sick, and less able financially to stay home from work — and thus they are more likely both to die and to spread the virus inadvertently.

The larger problem is that we over-invest in clinical care like CAT scans and underinvest in public health. There should be a Nobel Prize for Public Health, so that we might get more great minds wrestling with nonmedical pieces of the health puzzle, like industrial hog farms that can serve as breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria, from swine flu to MRSA.

“If a severe pandemic materializes,” Dr. Redlener said, “all of society could pay a heavy price for decades of failing to create a rational system of health care that works for all of us.”
Read the entire piece here.

Universal Healthcare and Health Disparities

It should go without saying, but now we have a study to confirm it - universal health coverage could reduce health disparities. The Commonwealth Fund conducted a study which suggests that medicare coverage for all provides a dramatic reduction in the level of poorer health among African American, Latino and low-income Americans.
Their research team, led by J. Michael McWilliams, M.D., Ph.D., sifted through medical data for 6,000 people ages 40 to 85 with diabetes or cardiovascular disease. They tracked their conditions from 1999 to 2006.

The researchers found that despite overall improvements in controlling the diseases, black, Hispanic and poor patients under 65 -- those not yet old enough for Medicare -- fared no better, or got worse.

However, at age 65, when people become eligible for Medicare coverage, the differences in health by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status declined significantly.
Read more here.