Tag Archives: World Health

Public Health in Pictures: Syphilis Poster from 1937


Image Source: Library of Congress


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Visits Chile Promising Aid


U.S. Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton, visited Chile yesterday bringing aid and promising U.S assistance. Her trip was confined to the Santiago airport and then to a visit with President Michelle Bachelet and President-elect Sebastian Pinera. At Chile’s request, Clinton brought with her 25 satellite phones and a technician to set them up. Satellite phones are needed to help authorities communicate with areas where telephone lines have been destroyed by the quake.

“America is ready to respond to requests from the Chilean Government, not only in solidarity, but with the specific provisions they need for reconstruction work,” Clinton said.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet thanked Clinton and President Barack Obama for the “support, friendship and cooperation” of the United States.

Further U.S. aid may include eight water purification systems, power generators and medical and dialysis equipment, and supplies. Other donations could include mobile kitchens, temporary bridges and helicopters

Her trip to Chile was part of a five-day tour to visit Latin American countries, including Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil Costa Rica, and Guatemala to gain support for U.S. sanctions against Iran amongst other reasons.

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Photo Source: www.thepulse.cl

Additional Aid to Arrive in Chile


The government of Chile officially asked for help from the United Nations today. In response, the UN stated that it is “ready to take action”. The 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck 200 miles south of the capital, Santiago has left the death toll currently at 708 with 2 million people displaced.  Since the earthquake two days ago, the Chilean government has been assessing the damage and international aid groups have sent experts and funding but have held back on providing large amounts of aid. U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said Chile formally made its request for temporary bridges, field hospitals, satellite phones, electric generators, damage assessment teams, water purification systems, field kitchens and dialysis centers.

The International Red Cross has also stepped in to help by providing $280,000 of its own funds and dispatching aid experts and volunteers to areas hardest hit by the quake. The International Red Cross states that they will have to wait on local officials and the Chilean Red Cross to find out what is needed.  

Doctors Without Borders said it sent an exploratory team of health workers to help the Chilean government. They will travel today to the Maule region and will focus on areas close to the epicenter of the earthquake, prioritizing rural villages where aid often takes far longer to reach than in cities.



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Tomas Munita for The New York Times

Health Care Summit: Significant and Pointless


       All week President Obama and members of his administration repeatedly denounced pundit claims that the healthcare summit was an act of political theatre.  Neither side of the aisle wanted to imply that the summit had any real chance at producing a significant breakthrough in the healthcare debate.  In fact, Congressional Democrats came into the meeting having already threatened to expedite the bill through the legislative process, ironically, called ‘reconciliation’.  Congressional Republicans, prior to the assembly, planted their feet firmly into poll tested talking points and took every chance they could to mock the Presidents sincerity and willingness to act bipartisan.

As for the meeting itself? 

Well, it was too boring to be called political theatre and too theatrical to bring about any reconciliation.  There are two issues that immediately come to mind when attempting to define the reasoning behind this summits failure. The first, is that it was simply too late in coming.  Had President Obama come out immediately announced the meeting in early 2009 and challenged the two parties to discuss their differences face to face and in front of television cameras, then maybe he could have silenced much of the resistance and maintained control of the debate.  This actually brings to view the inexperience of President Obama, who deserves to take full responsibility for this disappointment.  President Obama promised to make his administration the most transparent in history only to turn around and hold closed-door meetings on healthcare reform with members of his own party long before meeting the brick wall known as the Republican Party.  This gave both instant legitimacy to Republican talking points and easy fodder to establish lasting distrust of President Obama’s agenda.  This, along with the lack of unity within the Democratic Party itself on this issue, allowed the republicans to keep the focus on bashing Obama’s proposal’s and fanning the flames of distrust that President Obama himself ignited.  Therefore, long before the summit was even announced, pundits were able to pump their rhetoric into the cynical minds of conservatives, loyal Republican Party constituents, and disillusioned moderate Democrats.  In other words, after a year of debate, minds were simply already made up and no amount of nationally televised discussion, even if it had been substantial, would have changed them. 

…and that brings me to my second point. 

President Obama challenged the Republicans to present their alternatives in front of the cameras because he viewed much of their rhetoric to be melodramatic and thought he could prove the Republicans were indeed just the party of ‘NO!’.  The Republican point of view was that this meeting of minds was just another slip up by the President and considered the offer to meet publically as a win-win scenario for their party.  If they showed up and engaged the President and Democratic Party than they could squash the partisan label that the Democrats had been trying to place on them.  Or they could walk away, regardless of how the debate went, declaring that it was the Democrats who continued to play partisan games because they refused to take the presented Republican concerns into account.

 Although both parties utilized the media’s presence with emotionally charged tales of constituent despair, it was the Republicans who maximized the attention and at times appeared to treat the event as a kind of massive campaign event.  The healthcare debate is so hot right now that Republicans knew it was not in their interest to present any in-depth, unified alternative to the Democrats plan, but instead cite polls showing the unpopularity of “Obamacare” and use the media stage to continue to present themselves as the voice of the American people. 

For the American people, the healthcare summit was really a bittersweet moment. 

I praise President Obama for orchestrating, and the representatives of both parties for participating, in a delightfully transparent view of the legislative process.  But I can’t help but feel that the conduct of our elected officials in this conference was bad for Republicans, worse for Democrats, and demoralizing for the American people.

Image Source: Reuters

Acupuncture shows promise for depression in pregnancy | Reuters

Amy Norton
Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:22pm

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – For pregnant women with depression, a couple months of acupuncture might help reduce the severity of their symptoms, a small study hints.

The study, which followed 150 pregnant women with major depression, tested “depression-specific” acupuncture against massage and acupuncture sessions that, according to traditional Chinese medicine, does not specifically target depression.

Researchers found that after eight weeks, women who received depression-specific acupuncture were more likely to have a treatment response — meaning the severity of their symptoms fell by at least half and they no longer met all of the criteria for diagnosing major depression.

Overall, 63 percent responded to the therapy, versus 37 percent of the “control” acupuncture group and half of the massage group, according to findings published in the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

But while the findings are promising, questions still remain — including whether acupuncture as practiced in the real world can reliably help women with depression.

“The acupuncture protocol we have tested appears effective,” lead researcher Dr. Rachel Manber, of Stanford University in California, told Reuters Health in an email.

“However,” she added, “unlike a pill, which always has the same ingredients, acupuncture, like psychotherapy, varies from one provider to the other.”

So while the specific regimen used in this study appeared effective, Manber said, “I do not think we can say that our study proves that acupuncture is effective for depression during pregnancy.”

It’s estimated that 3 to 5 percent of pregnant women are diagnosed with depression, Manber and her colleagues note in their report. Antidepressant medications are one treatment option, but there are safety concerns.

One recent study, for example, found that pregnant women who started taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the second or third trimester had a higher risk of preterm delivery than other women. SSRIs include drugs like sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil) and fluoxetine (Prozac).

Because of the potential for harm from medications, many pregnant women with depression may prefer psychotherapy or other non-drug options.

Acupuncture has been used for more than 2,000 years in Chinese medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments. According to traditional medicine, specific acupuncture points on the skin are connected to internal pathways that conduct energy, or qi (“chee”), and stimulating these points with a fine needle promotes the healthy flow of qi.

Modern research has most often focused on the effects of acupuncture on painful conditions, like chronic back pain and migraines. Researchers speculate that it may help ease pain by altering signals among nerve cells or affecting the release of various chemicals of the central nervous system.

It is unclear, Manber said, why acupuncture might help lessen the severity of depression.

For their study, she and her colleagues randomly assigned 52 women to receive depression-specific acupuncture twice a week for four weeks, then weekly for another four weeks. Another 49 women received control acupuncture and 49 received massage. All completed a standard measure of depression severity at the outset and again after four and eight weeks of treatment.

After eight weeks, patients in the depression-specific acupuncture group had a higher rate of response to treatment. They were not, however, more likely to see a complete remission in their depression; about 35 percent had a remission, versus 29.5 percent in the other two groups combined – a statistically insignificant difference.

Fourteen women who received depression-specific acupuncture reported pain during the needling, as did seven in the control-acupuncture group.

Overall, Manber’s team notes, the response to acupuncture in this study was comparable to what has been seen in studies of psychotherapy for depression during pregnancy.

SOURCE: Obstetrics & Gynecology, March 2010.

via Acupuncture shows promise for depression in pregnancy | Reuters.

Image Source: Google Images

Public Health in Pictures: The Swine Flu/H1N1 (Time.com, Life.com)


April 27, 2009

Worshippers wear face masks in a Mexico City church amid fears that swine flu may become an epidemic.- Dario Lopez-Mills


Apr 30, 2009
A Mexican couple kisses through surgical masks during the height of H1N1 fears in Mexico City in April. Despite what has been regarded as the biggest flu epidemic in decades, life went on.

Swine Flue Update:

The Center for Disease Control reports  that for the week of February 7 – February 13, 2010, flu activity in the United States was relatively low, with most flu continuing to be caused by 2009 H1N1. Flu activity, caused by either 2009 H1N1 or seasonal flu viruses, may rise and fall, but is expected to continue for weeks. It’s possible that the United States could experience another wave of flu activity, or more likely, localized outbreaks of 2009 H1N1 in communities that have been relatively unaffected by illness thus far, or where 2009 H1N1 vaccination rates may have been lower.
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Store Up On Sleep!…you can use it later


This is great news for people who have mid-term exams coming up…









According to a study you can store your sleep in advance and use it later when you are more sleep deprived.

In a study conducted by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research half of a group of volunteers were allowed to sleep extra the first week and the other half of participants kept the same sleep pattern. The following week, all of the individuals were sleep deprived and then given a variety of tests. The results showed that the individuals who slept an extra amount the first week, stored the sleep and functioned better on the tests than the individuals that kept to their original sleep schedule.  Furthermore,  the individuals who stored their sleep not only functioned better with sleep deprivation but were able to recover from the sleep deprivation at a faster rate. Tracy Rupp from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research states that, “They showed less performance deterioration with regards to reaction time and alertness than the group that had been given the habitual prior sleep” .

This is great information for the miliatary…more incentive for R & R time and resting can be worked into the pre-touring routines by giving troops additional sleep before long-term missions.

Ms.  Rupp concludes,  “What we’re basically saying is if you fill up your reserves and pay back your sleep debt ahead of time, you’re better equipped to deal with the sleep loss challenge.”

Further research involves finding out how the body stores sleep and what is the average amount of extra sleep needed per person.

Think you can’t fall asleep at 9 pm? Take a power nap…they are effective as well…especially in the short-run.

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Image Source: Google Images