Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Agent Orange the shameful legacy – Health Services Authors

The Veteran’s Administration continues to recognize a growing number of diseases related to Agent Orange in both veterans and their children. They have even gone so far to call these presumptive diseases, meaning the veterans do not have to show that certain diseases were caused by Agent Orange or other herbicides. The VA offers a range of benefits to those eligible.

However, it is only recently that the US government has begun to address the how Agent Orange has affected the Vietnamese who lived and/or are living in areas sprayed by Agent Orange and other herbicides.

It is good that the US federal government is taking responsibility for the effects of Agent Orange and other herbicides on the health of the Vietnamese and their physical environment. But it is distressing to know that the US military continues to use other materials, as depleted uranium, which endanger the health of military personnel and civilians alike.

The adverse effects of war on civilian populations is becoming increasingly evident. Those who use weapons of war, no matter why or how, do bear responsibility for the effects, at the very least, on those who cannot protect or defend themselves.

Some excerpts from the blog posting Agent Orange- The Shameful Legacy by Phillippe Ha-Vinh

Between Washington and Hanoi the issue of lingering impacts of dioxin contained in the Agent Orange has been a thorn in otherwise friendly ties in recent years.

“The United States and Vietnam have achieved a level of cooperation that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago” and he notes that the dioxin cleanup in Danang is “an excellent example of our ability to work together constructively to resolve war legacy issues and to build a partnership that continues to grow stronger.” The US Ambassador says also in December 2010 that “the U.S. Government since 2007 has provided $23.3 million for environmental, health, and disabilities activities in Danang in addition to other programs throughout Vietnam and in 2010 has appropriated $16.9 million to commence a $34 million project to remove dioxin from the soil in Danang” (end of quotation).

But as an impartial observer I can say that, in fact, in one hand, to date the US government has always denied his direct legal responsibility for the birth defects of three generations of Vietnamese and in an other hand, indeed, notwithstanding the moral responsibility of the USA, Vietnamese government has never to date sought a compensation or a reimbursement by the USA of its allowance to its citizens suffering from Agent Orange consequences. In fact it has been a pragmatic politic between the two nations of non direct individual compensation of Agent Orange pollution pledged on bilateral trade agreements and assistance in environmental remediation.

But the reality is that this is the third Vietnamese generation that has been victim of the defoliant’s dioxin, the agent being held for responsible for the country high level of genetic defects….

…A Japanese study showed that Vietnam’s areas spread with the chemical defoliant undergo three fold more mental disabilities prevalence than those where no spraying took place. US government pledged only 6 Million Dollars so far (in 2009) for the victims of Agent Orange which seems like a drop in the sea with regard to the needs attached to three generations of disabled. The United State department’s money along with the New York-based Ford Foundation philanthropy aids helped to purify the polluted soils in Da Nang which was the former location of the big US military base where the Agent Orange was stored by the Americans and whose airport was the busiest airport in the world during the Vietnam War (reaching an average of 2,595 air traffic operations daily). But nothing was done to address the issue of the Vietnamese government’s spending to give monthly compensation allowances to the disabled, for a lack of scientific proof of causality between the polluted soil and the diseases striking the population. USA recognize the lethal potential of dioxin pollution (and so agree to clean it up) but do not recognize the direct and exclusive causality link with the deaths or the disabled (and so denies to their family the legitimacy to a lawsuit)! …..

Related publications

(These were found through search engines. For more comprehensive information, it would be best to check for books and articles through a public or academic library. Some excellent starting points for articles would be Academic Search Premier, Infotrac, LexisNexis Academic.  
And remember…don’t hesitate to ask a reference librarian for assistance in finding books and searching for articles!!)


And on a somewhat related note….

More Harm than Good? The Role of Aid in Modern Conflict (The Humanitarian)

February 29, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , | 1 Comment

Patience Patients – Are e-Patients Waiting for e-Docs?

Patience Patients – Are e-Patients Waiting for e-Docs? 

From the 25 January posting at Eye on FDA

Patients are changing.  They are accessing medical information differently, they are storing it differently and they are consuming it more voraciously.  This access to medical information and tools means that many patients are more medically conversant and knowledgeable than the patient of just five years ago.  Medical literacy is likely on the rise.

It also changes the way physician and patient communicate.  Five years ago, I never would have considered the need for email between my physician and myself, thinking it impractical.  Today, I think a physician needs to have some portal of access for the exchange of data and information.  Here are my readings – blood pressure, blood sugar, whatever… – for the week.  The medical record will reflect information not just gathered at an exam in the office, but that gathered by my apps when I am not in the office.  And when I’m diagnosed with a new condition, I fully expect either the physician or someone in his or her office to not only prescribe some medication, but to pull out an i-Pad to steer me to some good resources, including apps.  If the condition is one where there are few treatment options and I’m expected to consider a clinical trial, the i-Pad should have a clinical trials app that lets us look at what’s available together….

  • eHealth: patients are changing, but not (yet) the Physicians (
  • From Pinterest and Septris to the Patient of the Future (Science Blog)
    “Are ePatients self diagnosing too much ? Too many people are not going to see their doctors on a regular basis and they need to be educated on why that is a bad idea.  No printed or interactive forum can replace a trained medical professional. The Patient of the Future Like many “self-quanters,” Smarr wears a Fitbit to count his every step, a Zeo to track his sleep patterns, and a Polar WearLink that lets him regulate his maximum heart rate during exercise. Stanford University’s Septris app …”

February 29, 2012 Posted by | health care, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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