Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Cultural Competence or Cultural Competency ?

This is a great blog entry, with bibliography, about how not understanding ethnic/cultural backgrounds can lead to misdiagnosis.

               Cultural Competence or Cultural Sensitivity? May 12, 2011

Some Related Resources

May 14, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , | Leave a comment

Paid sick leave: It’s a policy that’s good for the public’s health

Paid sick leave and health care security in Sa...

Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

From the 11 May 2011  Guest Opinion section of, by By KATHARINE KRANZ LEWIS and VANI ANAND

Workers without paid sick days are overwhelmingly concentrated in service-sector jobs that require a high level of interaction with the public or with vulnerable populations. In the food service industry, a shocking 80 percent of employees – cooks, food preparers, waiters and dishwashers – lack paid sick time….

….A new multistate (including Connecticut) study published in the February issue of The Journal of Food Protection found that about 12 percent of food workers reported going to work sick at least twice a year with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea.

[An abstract of this article may be found here.  For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here]

Do the math: With more than 100,000 food-service workers in Connecticut, that means about 12,000 came in sick at least twice, and continued to serve food….

…The problem isn’t just limited to food service. According to one study, even in an office, employees who go to work with the flu are likely to infect two out of every 10 co-workers. During the swine flu outbreak of 2009, President Obama, then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell and public health officials warned people with the virus to stay home. For workers without paid sick days, the choice wasn’t always so easy.

According to a report released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a Washington, D.C., think tank, nearly 8 million Americans went to work infected with H1N1. In doing so, they spread the illness to another 7 million of their co-workers. In Connecticut, 36 people died from the virus….

…Perhaps most dangerous, however, is the situation where workers caring for the most vulnerable populations go to work sick. It defies common sense, but it’s true: There are thousands of people in Connecticut working in child care and senior care without paid sick leave. There’s no question that these workers at day care centers, school cafeterias, nursing homes and home-health services shouldn’t come into contact with vulnerable seniors and children if they have a contagious illness. But without paid sick leave, some workers will feel compelled to report to work sick anyway.

From a public health point of view, it’s simply irresponsible to let this dangerous pattern continue. All the evidence points to paid sick leave as a rational solution. Allowing people to earn paid sick days at work will help keep everyone healthier. The legislature should pass the paid sick days bill, and send it to Gov. Malloy’s desk for his signature.

Katharine Kranz Lewis and Vani Anand are co-chairs of the Connecticut Public Health Association’s Advocacy Committee….

May 14, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | | Leave a comment

World Health Statistics 2011 now available online

The WHO (World Health Organization) World Health Statistics 2011 is now available online.

It contains WHO’s annual compilation of health-related data for its 193 Member States, and includes a summary of the progress made towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and associated targets.

Click here to download the full report, sections, or data tables only.

From the press report

13 MAY 2011 | GENEVA – An increasing number of countries are facing a double burden of disease as the prevalence of risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and cancers increase and many countries still struggle to reduce maternal and child deaths caused by infectious diseases, for the Millennium Development Goals, according to the World Health Statistics 2011 released by the WHO today.

Noncommunicable diseases such heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and cancer, now make up two-thirds of all deaths globally, due to the population aging and the spread of risk factors associated with globalization and urbanization. The control of risk factors such as tobacco use, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet and excessive use of alcohol becomes more critical. The latest WHO figures showed that about 4 out of 10 men and 1 in 11 women are using tobacco and about 1 in 8 adults is obese.

In addition many developing countries continue to battle health issues such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria that are most likely to kill children under the age of five. In 2009, 40% of all child deaths were among newborns (aged 28 days or less). Much more needs to be done to achieve the MDGs by the target date of 2015, but progress has accelerated.

Child mortality declined at 2.7% per year since 2000, twice as fast as during the 1990s (1.3%). Mortality among children under five years fell from 12.4 million in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2009.
Maternal mortality declined at 3.3% per year since 2000, almost twice as fast in the decade after 2000 than during the 1990s (2%). The number of women dying as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth has decreased from 546,000 in 1990 to 358,000 in 2008.
“This evidence really shows that no country in the world can address health from either an infectious disease perspective or a noncommunicable disease one. Everyone must develop a health system that addresses the full range of the health threats in both areas.” says Ties Boerma, Director of WHO’s Department of Health Statistics and Informatics.

The report also shows that more money is being spent on health and people can expect to live longer (life expectancy in 2009 was 68 years, up from 64 years in 1990); but the gap in health spending between low- and high-income countries remains very large.

In low-income countries, per capita, health expenditure is an estimated US$ 32 (or about 5.4% of gross domestic product) and in high-income countries it is US$ 4590 (or about 11% of gross domestic product).
High-income countries have, per capita, on average 10 times more doctors, 12 times more nurses and midwives and 30 times more dentists than low-income countries.
Virtually all deliveries of babies in high-income countries are attended by skilled health personnel; but this is the case for only 40% of deliveries in low-income countries.

Editor Flahiff’s note....This is certainly born out by my Peace Corps experience. In 1980/81 Liberia, I remember attending the funeral of a well to do area woman who died in childbirth. And I remember how heartbroken one of my students was at the death of her month old child. Malaria and diarrhea were epidemic.

I am now sponsoring a Liberian who wants to be a nurse. I cannot begin to imagine what the Liberian health care system is facing. Many of the infectious diseases will probably continue to decrease  at least partly due to better sanitation (as more pump wells as opposed to open wells). But these diseases will remain and she will be facing increasing populations with non infectious diseases. I only hope that countries with resources (as the US) will work to empower Liberians and others to meet these challenges. It is not only a matter of global security, but of respecting human dignity.

  • Nurses addressing access, quality & health (blog item at the Center for Health Media and Policy at Hunter College)

    “The first week of May, 2300 registered nurses from 123 countries attended the International Council of NursesConference in Malta. We left challenged and charged to act on the innovative ideas presented by this year’s 70 expert presenters. The topics covered were extensive including the massive increase of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), primary care, climate change, disaster nursing, and gender violence.  CHMP’s co-director, Diana Mason, delivered the keynote focusing on the conference theme, nurses driving access, quality and health,addressing social determinants of health. She provided insights into how mobile health creates access to health care and selected innovative models of care designed by nurses globally challenging us to think broadly on how we can impact change to increase access and quality care. Mason crafted a powerful visual presentation that provided the backdrop to her engaging, thought-provoking presentation which earned her a standing ovation.”….

  • Chronic diseases now leading global killer: WHO (
  • WHO Warns of Enormous Burden of Chronic Disease (

May 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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