Saturday, July 30, 2011

In Sierra Leone, New Hope for Children and Pregnant

When I was in the maternity wards in Sierra Leone several years ago, the conditions were is good to hear that things are improving...


Sierra Leone is at the vanguard of a revolution — heavily subsidized for now by international donors — that appears to be substantially lessening health dangers here in one of the riskiest countries in the world for pregnant women and small children.
Country after country in sub-Saharan Africa has waived medical fees in recent years, particularly for women and children, and while experts acknowledge that many more people are getting care, they caution that it is still too early to declare that the efforts have measurably improved health on the continent.
In Sierra Leone, though, it seems clear that lives are being saved, providing an early and concrete lesson about the impact of making health care free for the very poor and vulnerable.

Planning a Vac(cin)ation

GETTING vaccinated may be the last thing on your mind when heading off on vacation, but it’s important — whether you are traveling to an exotic destination or not.

There was also a recent article in the Reno Gazette Journal, written by Geralda Miller, in which I had some additional travel tips at this link...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Memories distort what we see today

Images held in our working memory may skew perception of current events, new research shows.

If I could pick patients, they would be Native American Guatemalans

Spent a sweaty week operating in a hilltop Hospital Nacional in Guatemala a while back.
A patient gave me a hat in thanks for her surgery. It’s a full-brimmed canvas safari number – I’m sure Hemingway shot a rhino in one. I’m just mature enough now to value sun protection and always grateful, sometimes to the point of pain, for gifts from those who have almost nothing. I was also given a painting of the neighboring volcano, a tee-shirt depicting a local politician, two kisses, many back-breaking hugs, and endless expressions of muchisimas graciasplus the quiche version of same.
The biggest gift of all, though, was the respect our patients gave us.

Executive compensation and the rising cost of health care

The revelations about the huge golden parachute given the outgoing CEO of ostensibly non-profit Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield induced some public discussion about the disconnect between executive compensation and the mission of health care organizations.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bionic Vision for the Blind

How eyeglasses equipped with cameras, LED lights, and a smart-phone-sized processor could help the blind to see.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Most Isolated Man on the Planet

He's alone in the Brazilian Amazon, but for how long?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CATRA: Cataract Maps with Snap-on Eyepiece for Mobile Phones

I love it-iphone technology--applied to eye care !!
There are some good videos at the link as well..


Saturday, July 09, 2011

After Years of Struggle, South Sudan Becomes a New Nation

JUBA, South Sudan — The celebrations erupted at midnight. Thousands of revelers poured into Juba’s steamy streets in the predawn hours on Saturday, hoisting enormous flags, singing, dancing and leaping on the back of cars.

“Freedom!” they screamed.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Dankam Augmented Reality App for the Colorblind

Dankam is an augmented reality app for the iPhone that helps colorblind people discriminate between colors. Named after its author, Dan Kaminsky, it helps by automatically converting colors in the image which normally can’t be differentiated by people who are colorblind to colors which can be differentiated. It is optimized for the most common form of color blindness, anomalous trichromancy, in which differentiation between reds and greens is affected, but it also allows the user to tweak the filters. It can operate directly on the camera or on previously taken images. Also, a set of test images is included. The app is available for $2.99/EUR 2.39 in the app store.

Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops

The basic premise is simple. Provide people with information about their actions in real time (or something close to it), then give them an opportunity to change those actions, pushing them toward better behaviors. Action, information, reaction. It’s the operating principle behind a home thermostat, which fires the furnace to maintain a specific temperature, or the consumption display in a Toyota Prius, which tends to turn drivers into so-called hypermilers trying to wring every last mile from the gas tank. But the simplicity of feedback loops is deceptive. They are in fact powerful tools that can help people change bad behavior patterns, even those that seem intractable. Just as important, they can be used to encourage good habits, turning progress itself into a reward. In other words, feedback loops change human behavior. And thanks to an explosion of new technology, the opportunity to put them into action in nearly every part of our lives is quickly becoming a reality.

Monday, July 04, 2011

An African Adventure, and a Revelation

Another important and excellent article about Africa from Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. It is worth reading in its entirety in my opinion for anyone with an interest in Africa.
TAKE an American student and an American teacher who have never been near Africa before, lead them on a crazed “win a trip” journey through five particularly wretched countries, and what do you get?
Well, a few mishaps. There was that angry mob in Mauritania — who would have thought our cameras would upset people that much? And that bull elephant in Niger was equally inhospitable, although the giraffes seemed amiable as they approached to gawk at the strange white humans.
We encountered plenty of heartbreak, like the baby we met in Niger who was going blind from lack of vitamin A. In some places, we felt the gnawing disquiet of insecurity. The rise of banditry and a Qaeda network in West Africa forced us to take an armed escort across one particularly lawless stretch of “highway.”
Yet my travel buddies and I also found something far more significant on our journey: hope.

With Shawn, we drove south across the Mauritanian desert to Senegal, and then flew the following day to Niger — one of the poorest and most forlorn countries in the world. In the remote town of Dogon Doutchi, near the Nigerian border, we saw with heartbreaking clarity what doctors call severe acute malnutrition.
A 2-year-old child, Alou Muhammad, was lying nearly comatose on a cot in the local hospital, his ribs protruding, receiving fluid from an IV drip. Alou’s left eye had Bitot’s spots — signs of vitamin A deficiency that lead to blindness. At least 250,000 children go blind each year for lack of vitamin A, according to the W.H.O., and half of them die within a year of going blind.
(The cost of a vitamin A tablet is 2 cents and the kids need them every four to six months! uvealblues)
This was Saumya’s report:
"The local hospital was unlike anything I had ever seen. No hand sanitizer dispenser. No faces covered with scrub masks. No supply closet. No physicians streaming down the hallway in stark white coats.
"Alou was in pain, screaming 'Mama!' between sobs. I have seen malnourished children, but this was the first time I could count each rib."
(I have seen many such hospitals in Africa--uvealblues)
When I (Nicholas Kristof)
first backpacked through West Africa as a law student in 1982, what I found most wrenching were the ubiquitous blind beggars, victims of a disease called river blindness, spread by the bites of black flies. The flies carry parasites that grow into worms whose offspring eat away at the optic nerve and cause blindness, debilitating itching and excruciating pain.
“This was more painful than childbirth,” Fatouma Oumarou, a 70-year-old woman who had gone blind from the ailment, told us when we visited her village. At the peak of the disease, she recalled, much of the land in the area was left fallow because farmers did not dare work the area. In a nearby village, Moli, in a wildlife refuge, people told us that lions had killed a 15-year-old in the fields, but added, “We are more afraid of the black flies than of the lions.”
Yet these days river blindness is gone from this region, thanks partly to heroic work by Jimmy Carter, and to vast contributions of medicine by Merck. I asked villagers if they had ever heard of Jimmy Carter, and they shook their heads doubtfully — but his post-presidency work on global health had transformed their lives.
(Merck definitely deserves credit for this initiative--uvealblues)

Here is a link to one of the videos from Kristof's article: Link

Here is further discussion on Kristof's column: Link

James Brown doing miso soup commercials

Parasitic Worms May Offer Hope on MS

For people suffering from debilitating autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, there is growing evidence that help may be at hand from an unusual source: parasitic worms.
In a U.S. study, early safety tests suggested the eggs of pig whipworms have anti-inflammatory properties, reducing the size of brain lesions in MS patients. A similar trial is under way in Denmark. And in Britain, academics at the University of Nottingham are studying the potential health benefits of hookworms, another type of parasitic worm.
If these trials prove successful, treatment with parasitic worms—known as helminthic therapy—could provide a simple, cheap, natural and controllable treatment for the debilitating condition, which affects 2.5 million people world-wide.
Whipworm eggs were taken from disease-free pigs and grown in Denmark in a clean environment by a German biotech company, OvaMed GmbH. Every two weeks over the course of three months, the patients in the study drank 2,500 of the eggs mixed into a sports drink. The eggs hatched in the patient's intestines and were killed by the immune system after about a week.
Patients who took part said the liquid was salty but didn't taste or smell unpleasant.
"It was like drinking a shot of salty water—you didn't notice the worms. It wasn't like there was anything chunky in it," explains Jim, 40, the first patient recruited for Dr. Fleming's safety study, who asked not to have his surname published.
"I signed up shortly after being diagnosed and didn't have a problem with it because I was pretty scared and, for me, ingesting worm eggs is just not a big deal."
The theory behind the HINT and WIRMS studies and others like them is known as "the hygiene hypothesis." This argues that developed countries such as the U.S., Europe and Japan have higher incidences of allergies and autoimmune diseases because the population has little or no exposure to parasites or infections.
In developing countries, where people are exposed to low-level infections or infestations, the rates of such diseases are much lower.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Giving Medical Receptionists Their Due

The importance of receptionists in healthcare settings is well illustrated in this article

While much has been written about the role of doctors, nurses and other clinicians in the care of patients and their families, little attention has been paid to those individuals who make up the very front lines of health care. In almost every clinical practice, office receptionists and the professionals who do comparable work in hospitals, the ward clerks and unit secretaries, are the first people patients see. But serious research on their interactions with patients has been sparse at best.
Now the journal Social Science and Medicine has published a new study on the work of this group of professionals. Despite the stereotype that many receptionists bear as mere “gatekeepers” or even “the dragon behind the desk,” the study found that their responsibilities extend far beyond administrative duties. Ward clerks and office receptionists are a vital part of patient care.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Administration Halts Survey of Making Doctor Visits

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Tuesday that it had shelved plans for a survey in which “mystery shoppers” posing as patients would call doctors’ offices to see how difficult it was to get appointments.
Having coverage is not the same as having ready access to care — a fact demonstrated in Massachusetts, which has come closer than any other state to the goal of universal coverage. A recent survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that about half of family doctors and internists were not accepting new patients.
Related Posts with Thumbnails