Daytime television host Katie Couric courted controversy where it does not exist, yesterday. She featured Emily Tarsell a woman who said the HPV vaccine Gardasil is responsible for her her daughter’s death.
Remaining guests, including medical doctors, discussed their support and opposition to the HPV vaccine. Couric builds ‘controversy’ by rising fear of vaccines based on non or pseudo-scientific claims. The ‘balanced’ style of reporting left viewers with few answers and may have caused more confusion than help enlighten misinformed Americans.
“So we’ve obviously heard two different sides about the HPV vaccine and I think for parents watching, it’s probably still rather confusing when you hear these heartbreaking stories that these parents have endured,” closed Couric.
Viwers are left thinking that there is an actual debate over the HPV vaccine when there isn’t.
There is more agreement in the medical community than Couric’s show lets on. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends women both receive the vaccine and are screened regularly for cancer. It is the same recommendation made by the World Health Organization for countries around the world. Continue reading
Freakonomics is the latest outlet to ride the wave of fighting poverty with evidence. It’s most recent episode features the folks over at Innovations for Poverty Action and GiveDirectly, two programs use rigorous evaluations to find out what works.
The discussion comes from a recent IPA hosted event on increasing evidence-based responses to poverty.
Listen in and share your thoughts. Are you convinced by the arguments?
Amazon hopes drones may soon take over the retail world. The UN hopes drones will help peacekeeping work.
The UN’s first unmanned and unarmed aircraft took flight in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Tuesday. They will patrol airspace over the region to track rebel groups along the border with Rwanda and Uganda.
Limited infrastructure and large forests have made it hard for Congolese and UN MONUSCO peacekeepers to patrol the region. The UN hopes the drones will help with their work in the Congo and elsewhere.
“One can observe the movements of the armed groups, movements of populations and can even see the arms carried by people on the ground, and it is also possible to see people in forested areas,” said MONUSCO Force Commander General Santos Cruz. Continue reading
- iLab Haiti
A group in Haiti is using 3-D printers to make needed medical supplies.
iLab Haiti is using the new technology to make medical tools. The initiative is still testing out the applications, but there is plenty of promise. The project is a part of a larger initiative by the group to provide resources and support for Haitian-led innovation and solutions.
“iLab // Haiti has found its home at Haiti Communitere, an established resource center where tools and classes give locals a space to take the future of Haiti into their own hands,” says the group’s website.
Ashley Dara of iLab Haiti spoke with NPR about the idea behind the project.
[W]e’re working in Port-au-Prince at a resource center called Haiti Communitere. It’s an area where a lot of locals from Cite Soleil come into work to learn new life skills and job skills. And while I was in Haiti last year, a dear friend of mine was running a hospital all by herself with limited resources. One night she wound up having to deliver five babies and they had no umbilical cord clamps, so they were using their own rubber gloves, cutting them to tie off the umbilical cords, which meant that they went through their rubber gloves and had to then deliver babies barehanded with women that were HIV-positive.
And all I could think was, wow, if we had a 3-D printer, I could’ve been printing on-demand umbilical cord clamps for you. So now our guys, or our students that we work with, are actually learning how to make very simple medical devices.
She says they are on the fourth generation printer and are still testing out what plastics work best. The products produced have not been tested on humans, it is still an idea that has some time before being put into use in a medical setting.
The unlikely trio of Cambodia, New Zealand and Spain lead the world in reducing AIDS deaths from peak levels.
How does the rest of the world stack up? Check out the map:
The data comes from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation based at the University of Washington and the Solutions Journalism network. The percentages are based on reduction in deaths from the peak in a given country to 2010. Other outstanding countries include the Untied States (75% reduction), Rwanda (83%) and Haiti (80%).
There are also some places like China and large parts of south-east Asia that have yet to reach peak levels. Though there is a lot of reason for optimism. Even countries that are struggling with poverty can manage to beat back deaths caused by AIDS.
The latest Hunger Games movie is ‘catching fire’ (had to use the pun) across the US. It is also providing shelter for refugees.
Oxfam GB’s Ben Phillips snapped a photo of a Syrian refugee shelter in Lebanon that used a Hunger Games movie poster. His tweets from today describe the hardships faced by the refugees. Syrians displaced in Lebanon are spending twice their incomes just to get by.
“We took our kids out of school because the teachers made them empty the trash instead of lessons – only Syrian kids were made to do that,” said one refugee to Phillips.
A total of 1.5 million Syrian refugees are hosted by five neighboring countries. The UN’s latest appeal says that 6.8 million people in and around Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Phillips is tweeting stories and pictures this week as he meets Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.
- A child receives a vaccine in Bihar, India.
- Gates Foundation
Vaccines are pretty rad. They help protect us against some pretty nasty diseases and save lives.
Not convinced? How about this: vaccines have prevented more than 100 million serious cases of contagious diseases in the US since 1924.
Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh looked at the number of reported cases of polio, measles, rubella, mumps, hepatitis A, diphtheria and whooping cough before and after vaccines were available. The projections are based on how many cases would have occurred if a vaccine was not developed for each.
We already knew that vaccines were behind the eradication of smallpox and will be a key reason why polio is up next. Then there are measles and rubella, which are pretty much not a problem in the Americas anymore.
The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine late last week. It showed just how important vaccines have been in a historical context and why they still matter today.
All the infections avoided over nearly a century could be for naught if Americans spend more time getting health advice from former Playboy model Jenny McCarthy as opposed to scientific researchers. Continue reading
- World Economic Forum, 2005. (L to R) Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Thabo Mbeki, Tony Blair, Bono, Olusegun Obasango.
Philanthropic efforts have existed for centuries in order to improve Africa. Has it failed for centuries?
Author Paul Theroux says philanthropic efforts trace back from from Sir Thomas Buxton in the 18th Century to Bill Gates today. He argues in a column for Barrons that billions have been spent in Africa to little effect.
“Africa receives roughly $50 billion in aid annually from foreign governments, and perhaps $13 billion more from private philanthropic institutions, according to Penta’s estimate,” he writes.
“I can testify that Africa is much worse off than when I first went there 50 years ago to teach English: poorer, sicker, less educated, and more badly governed. It seems that much of the aid has made things worse.”
The supposed new ideas, like microfinance, are just new versions of the same thing done 173 years ago. The piece is heavy on Theroux’s personal experiences in Africa as a teacher and a visitor. He shares the story of foreign professionals working in Kenya and Malawi. By working in remote or rural places in a given countries, the local professionals have no incentive to pursue jobs where they are filled by foreigners.
“My experience with the teachers in Malawi might explain this paradox,” he writes. “With so many outsiders willing to travel upcountry to improve the state of health care, African doctors tend to stay in better-paying jobs in urban areas, or simply leave the country altogether for places where doctors are held in high esteem and amply rewarded.” Continue reading