Malaria Awareness

Malaria kills more than one million children every year. Sub Saharan Africa has the most cases of malaria reported in the world. Hospitals and clinics in Africa hold two children per bed and ninety percent are malaria patients. Malaria is caused by a microscopic parasite from mosquitos. This parasite invades red blood cells in the body and causes them to burst. The loss of red blood cells causes severe anemia and can kill a child within hours. The parasite has evolved a resistance to the most recent drugs, and many people cannot afford the updated ones.

Judith Ontiombo has an eighteen month old son and a nine month old grandson. Both are infected with malaria; their symptoms include vomiting,diarrhea, and stomach pain. Judith has already lost two children to malaria. Immediate care for malaria provides a higher chance of survival especially in children. Unfortunately, the nearest clinic to Judith is a two mile walk away. Judith’s son is negative for malaria after he is given a common drug called SP which costs 30 cents to buy in Kenya. Sadly, her grandson is positive for malaria and is given a combination of SP and Chloroquine at the clinic. Judith can barely afford these two medications. Medicines bought in Kenya are proven to be more than 30% counterfeit and do not help the infected at all. Fortunately, adults who survive malaria as children gain a partial immunity and have a much higher chance of living if they contract the disease later in life.

Malaria is the disease of poverty. If an adult contracts malaria, he or she cannot work and provide for their families. The disease keeps people impoverished.  It first started in the 1900s and has been virtually eliminated in America due to insecticides and eliminating swamps for mosquito breeding. Fred Soper is credited with the idea of eradicating all mosquitos in Britain. He used an insecticide called DDT and it was very successful at first. Brazil summoned him to work for their country and shortly after, 55 nations were involved in the Global Malaria Eradication Program in 1948. DDT is a cheap chemical and showed dramatic results by eliminating malaria in almost 40 countries. Unfortunately his campaign was stalled because mosquitos became resistant to DDT. DDT was also found to be harmful to the environment and was later banned in 1972. DDT was never able to reach Africa where malaria was spreading fast; it became the most contracted and deadly disease in the world. More people die of malaria than ever before and is holding back Africa’s development.

A new approach was discovered to prevent mosquitos from biting people at night. Bed nets treated with insecticides were given out to almost 30,000 people in Africa and positive malaria results dropped almost 90%. Many researches feel that bringing DDT back would help Africa a great deal. They say that the only problem with DDT was that farmers were using it to protect their crops in an irresponsible fashion and that it would help African families. Malaria is not only Africa’s burden to bear, it is our responsibility to contribute to drug distribution and prevention tactics. Malaria can be completely eradicated with help from around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Public Health and Personal Privacy

-This topic is discussed on Frontline.org-

Attorney Janlori Goldman who started the national Health Privacy Project in 1997 gives an optimistic outlook on patient privacy in our health care system. She says that people are afraid to get genetic testing, blood tests, or admit to health issues because they are afraid their current or future employers will get a hold of this information.  Personal privacy is a vastly growing issue here in the United States and privacy laws have only been established in the last ten years. Janlori talks about privacy protected behaviors in patients;  20% percent of people purposefully leave out information about symptoms and health problems to avoid exposure. People hide their diseases and syndromes because evidence shows that employers see this as a weakness or something that will hurt their company. The Medical Privacy Regulation limits what doctors can share about you. This law is becoming more outdated because of new technology in the health professions. The federal government receives a plethora of medical information from hospitals such as emergency room visits and new syndromes for observation and statistics. Janlori agrees that we do need research in order to improve quality of care and to discover and observe new disease outbreaks. However, the government does not need to know who has what disease or what their social security number is. The statistical information will still be useful without knowing these private facts about people.

One example of medical records being improperly exposed: A hospital employee took home an external hard-drive of medical records at a Veteran Administration Hospital in hopes of getting some work done at home. The hard drive was stolen and exposed all over the internet. 26 million veterans’ records were exposed. Another example: Terry Sargent was fired from her job because of a medical condition that was hereditary.

Janlori said doctors are losing control of their patient’s privacy because they are required to give insurance companies reports on patients in order to get paid. Many doctors will keep two different records per patient, one for their office and one for the insurance companies. More often than not, important medical information is left off of the insurance agency’s copy.

Companies are required to “Create a wall” if they insure their employees. There should be no relation between work performance and health care records of the employee. Sadly, many companies ignore this wall. Not one penalty has been issued when a claim has been made against an employer or insurance company for exposing personal records. No wonder why people resist going to the doctor and seeking medical care. Many workers would rather keep their jobs and not get appropriate care. This is a major health disparity in America and Janlori feels as though privacy laws with become more regulated and harsh. According to The Medical Privacy Regulation, we have no right to sue when we feel like our privacy has been violated. Attorneys are reluctant to take on these cases because they rarely win.

One of the only advantages of our privacy regulations is that we are allowed to obtain copies of our own medical records. Ten years ago, doctors office’s and hospitals would refuse to give a patient their own medical records. Many doctors also think that they are not allowed to share medical records with other doctors upon request due to liability risks. Many hospitals and medical offices offer a privacy release form upon patient admission. We are not required to sign these forms and many people are not aware of this.

Visit healthprivacy.org for more information on this topic.

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Vaccines and Our Health

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/health-science-technology/the-vaccine-war/report-no-link-between-vaccines-and-autism/

This is an article that really caught my attention about vaccines and autism. We have an 11 month old daughter who has received the required vaccinations this year. My fiancé and I have researched many controversial outlooks on this topic. Autism is such a new and unperfected study so parents can only guess as to why their child has been diagnosed with it. According to National-Academies.org most complications occur in children who receive the MMR vaccine because they likely have immune system deficiencies. Like any other medication, vaccines have adverse side effects. Many studies show that there as absolutely no link between a child with autism and their vaccinations. (Harris, New York Times Magazine.) For many years past, many people believe that the specific product called thimerosal in the MMR vaccine, which contains mercury, is the reason why children are becoming autistic. In the year 2001, the MMR vaccine was given without the thimerosal preservative. The number of autistic children who receive vaccinations has not changed since this preservative has been removed. Our country provides these vaccinations to prevent disease and deadly epidemic situations. I am glad we made the decision to get our daughter vaccinated because the risk of her getting a deadly disease is greater than her having an adverse reaction.

In a Canadian Study observed by Sigal Bell M.D. :

“children in the same community belong to a shared pool of infection risk.  While very protective, vaccines are not 100% effective. Some children may not mount a full immune response after vaccination. Some children can’t get vaccinated because they are not old enough or because they have underlying health conditions that preclude safe vaccination. If enough kids lack protective immunity and the illness enters the community, it’s not just the unvaccinated child that gets sick. In fact it is often the vulnerable children who couldn’t get vaccinated that are at greatest peril.

Now researchers tell us that so-called “herd immunity” travels even farther. A unique study published in JAMA a few weeks ago compared 22 small communities in Canada where kids were influenza vaccinated to 24 similar communities where they were not, examining rates of influenza in the whole community. Here’s what they found: Total community influenza rates were more than double in the unvaccinated group. Immunization of children conferred a large (61%) protective effect for the entire community, providing clear-cut evidence that the benefit of vaccines extends beyond the recipient. Considering that approximately 30,000 people die each year in the US from influenza, this is not trivial.”

Evidently, many vaccines have greatly improved our way of life in America. Smallpox is to be a dangerous disease that had been infecting people since around the time of Christ. It is spread by touch or air molecules inhaled into the body. When research found that people who previously had smallpox were immune to future infection, the vaccine was created using molecules from smallpox itself. Many vaccinations today are made using molecules from the disease they are trying to eliminate. Now, smallpox is only found in two laboratories, one in the United States at the CDC and one in Russia. There has been much debate as to wether the samples should be permanently destroyed. The smallpox samples were scheduled to be destroyed in 1999 but have been saved for further medical studies on disease and their vaccinations. Because of vaccination, smallpox does not exist in our world anymore and people no longer lose their lives from it. This is a perfect example of why we should get vaccinated.

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