In Haiti: Its Not Lack of Science, It’s Poverty

On top of the utter destruction wrought upon the island nation of Haiti by this year’s earthquake, a cruel new misfortune is adding to the misery. Hundreds of thousands of displaced Haitians, people whose homes were destroyed in quake, are living in squalid conditions in temporary tent camps. Without adequate access to clean water or sufficient medical supplies, an epidemic of Cholera has broken out. BoingBoing blogger, Maggie Baker explains what Cholera is and does:
“The bug behind this devastation—the bacterium Vibrio cholerae—is a fascinating and frustrating creature. Fascinating, because of its role in the development of epidemiology and what we’re still learning from it. Frustrating, because it ought to be relatively simple to treat and prevent infection. We know what to do to help a cholera victim survive. All it takes is access to clean water and the most basic medical supplies. The trouble here isn’t science, it’s poverty.Cholera is, essentially, the worst food poisoning you can possibly imagine. In fact, it’s related to Vibrio vulnificus, a bacteria that tends to infect people via undercooked seafood.After you ingest the cholera bacteria, it’ll hang out in your gut for a few days before symptoms kick in. Once they do, though, cholera can kill you within hours. How? I’ll be blunt: Massive, constant diarrhea that drains the body of fluids and electrolytes and leaves victims looking like glassy-eyed, hollow-cheeked corpses before they actually are.”
The problem isn’t that medical science cannot beat cholera.  In fact all that’s needed to beat cholera is clean water and antibiotics.  The problem is poverty – there simply isn’t enough money to ensure clean drinking water and access to simple medical treatment for the Haitian population.  Over the jump is a list of places where you can contribute (even the smallest donation is HUGELY valuable) to saving the lives of people who simply shouldn’t have to die. Continue reading…

Constitution Day

we-the-peopleToday, September 17th is Constitution Day. This holiday, sometimes referred to as Citizenship Day recognizes the ratification of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is observed on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787. This year, although historic health care legislation has recently been passed, many of the worst abuses of the insurance industry are still in effect as providers plan a double digit rate increase.  So even though major provisions of the newly passed bill won’t take effect until 2014, there is still a moral imperative to make sure all Americans have access to basic healthcare.  I have heard many opponents of universal healthcare ask, “Where in the Constitution does it say that we’re entitled to universal healthcare?”. Follow me over the fold for the answer to this, and other questions about the amazing document at the core of our Democracy. Continue reading…

Flexibility is a Blessing but Structure is Important

Many online students point to the flexibility of online study as one of the main reasons they chose to go to school via the internet.  It is true for folks who juggle work, family and studies, being able to allocate one’s own time and formulate one’s own schedule is invaluable to succeeding in all these important tasks.  Sometimes, it is necessary to get creative with the schedule in order to accommodate the incidental issues that pop up in life.  In these cases, you may find yourself pushing study time into the late night slot, or scheduling family breakfasts instead of family suppers.  This may be a useful ability to have, but recent research seems to indicate that having a more stuctured daily routine is better for your mind and body.  Follow me over the fold for a synopsis and links to the research in question. Continue reading…

Healthiest Fast Food Joints

OK, so after blogging about the horrific KFC Double Down “sandwich”  I wanted to follow up with some information about healthier fast food options.  You know, I am not one of those folks who thinks no one should eat fast food (consider my pathological addiction to In-n-Out burgers as evidence).  So I am happy to provide you all this Friday afternoon with a list of the top 10 healthiest fast food eateries which includes another one of my faves: Chipotle.  Click here to read the list as published in Health magazine.

Making a Difference

Students of medical billing and coding, you are entering a field that holds enormous potential for you to do good works and make a positive impact on the lives of your fellow man.  People like you who dedicate their course of study and their careers to advancing public health are to be commended and celebrated.  It is a noble thing that they do.  Here’s the story of one student whose committment to study in the field of medicine has yielded an astonishing breakthrough that will surely help countless people in poor parts of the world struggling with wounds. Read how this student created a suction device that costs a mere $3.00 to manufacture and the impact this breakthrough will have on medicine worldwide.  Then feel good about what you’re working to achieve and know that every one of you shares the exact same potential to effect greatness through your course of study and the work you will be doing once you graduate.

More than 15 Grams and It’s Dessert!

With the legislature considering taxing so-called “unhealthy” food or beverage items as a way to raise revenues while encouraging better diet amongst Americans, each of us should spend some time focusing a little bit on how we eat and what we eat.  As I have written here before, I think it is a mistake to single out individual food items (pizza and soda were recently singled out in one of these new tax proposals) as “unhealthy”.  For one thing, portion sizes are a larger problem than the nature of what we eat.  If you eat one or two slices of pizza at meal time, you’re not packing on the pounds.  Eating 5 slices each time you eat pizza is much more likely to make you gain weight.   Today, I read an article that blew up my conception of what is healthy to eat and what is not.  Often, things we tend to think of as “healthy” foods are worse for us than things we think of as “no-nos”.  Follow me past the jump for the shocking details. Continue reading…

New Healthcare Law Requires Chain Restaurants to Post Calorie Counts

Healthcare Law Requires Fast Food Calorie ListingAccording to a report by the Associated Press:WASHINGTON – A requirement tucked into the massive U.S health care bill will make calorie counts impossible for thousands of restaurants to hide and difficult for consumers to ignore. More than 200,000 fast food and other chain restaurants will have to include calorie counts on menus, menu boards and even drive-throughs.  Read the whole article here.It may be a bit onerous for these restaurants to have to do this, but if you’ve ever seen those popular “Eat This, Not That” books and website, you know that often, seemingly “healthy” menu items can be worse than things that have a reputation for being “bad for you”.   In this blogger’s opinion, this step is a positive one because it will help American’s make more informed choices about what they eat.  Dietary choices are behind so many of the leading illnesses in our society from obesity to cancer.  The more info we have as a society, the better off we will be as we choose what to eat.

10 Immediate Effects of Health Reform Bill Passed Last Night

The following was posted by Congressman John B. Larson, Democrat from Connecticut after last night’s historic passage of health insurance reform.As soon as health care passes, the American people will see immediate benefits. The legislation will:
  • Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;
  • Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;
  • Prohibit dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;
  • Lower seniors’ prescription drug prices by beginning to close the donut hole;
  • Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;
  • Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans;
  • Require plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;
  • Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
  • Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
  • Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs.
By enacting these provisions right away, and others over time, we will be able to lower costs for everyone and give all Americans and small businesses more control over their health care choices.Crossposted on the House Democrat’s blogAre you satisfied or mortified by the bill’s passage?  Share your thoughts in the comments section.

US Food Producers Getting Healthier

Several days ago, Pepsico announced that it has agreed to cease sales of high-sugar beverages in soda machines inside schools across the US.  The soft drink giant could no longer turn a blind eye to the direct correlation between its super sugary drinks and the epidemic of childhood obesity.  While I am sure that they were not super enthusiastic about losing this significant (but not critical) piece of their market, I imagine they felt the negative publicity surrounding soda in schools and childhood obesity was more damaging to their bottom line than agreeing to stop promoting the fattening of our children. Following the Pepsico announcement, Kraft Foods announced that they would be cutting back the levels of salt used in the manufacture of many of their food products for sale in the US.  A nod to the growing numbers of health conscious Americans, Kraft has agreed to be more responsible in the production of foods consumed by millions.   They plan to eliminate 10 million pounds of salt from 1000 products over the next two years.  That’s alot of salt!  I feel like I need a Pepsi to quench my thirst. LOL

Taxing Soda and Pizza to Combat Obesity?

This courtesy of Reuters today:

“CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. researchers estimate that an 18 percent tax on pizza and soda can push down U.S. adults’ calorie intake enough to lower their average weight by 5 pounds (2 kg) per year.The researchers, writing in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine on Monday, suggested taxing could be used as a weapon in the fight against obesity, which costs the United States an estimated $147 billion a year in health costs.”
We had written about this proposal once before here at the Allen School Online blog, when the proposed tax was put forth in New York State.  Now it seems the idea has taken hold nationwide.  I can sort of see the value in taxing sodas, which contain ungodly quantities of sugar in a single serving.  I might suggest taxing all items that contain high fructose corn syrup (but that will never fly because our government pays huge subsidies to corn farmers to produce this deadly sugar.)  Furthermore, soda is sold by all restaurants and groceries so a tax on soda would at least be equitably distributed across all foodservice and sales businesses.  However, I draw the line of fairness at singling out pizza for additional taxation.  What, do obese people not overeat fried chicken?  Chinese food buffet?  Ice cream sundaes? Why discriminate against pizzeria owners for this new tax?  Eating pizza specifically is not the only driver of obesity.I could live with a soda tax,but to start singling out individual foods for additional taxation is a very bad idea.  What do you think?