Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Website] Social Impact Calculator

The Social Impact Calculator is “a new tool that allows you to put a dollar value on the benefits of things like an affordable home, a great school or access to transit.”

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From the 13 January 2015 blog post at Investing in Community Change

The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) has created the Social Impact Calculator – a tool that allows you to put a dollar value to the impact of capital investments.

LIIF is a community development financial institution (CDFI) that invests in capital projects in low income communities in an effort to provide families with access to healthy, green and economically strong places to live. Using the Social Impact Calculator, LIIF is able to monetize the impact of capital investments in communities — such as funding for housing, child care centers and charter schools — and assess how well its investments are creating opportunities and reducing inequities in communities.

How does it work? The Social Impact Calculator estimates social returns using research and translating data into monetary values. For example, investments in affordable housing can create discretionary income for families by reducing the burden of housing costs. Those savings can be used by families to cover additional needs, such as food and healthcare. Similarly, as suggested by research, investing in high-performing schools can increase a child’s lifetime earnings while also reducing costs associated with incarceration.

LIIF has made the Social Impact Calculator available to the public and invites communities to explore how they might use the calculator to assess their own efforts. In addition, LIIF invites you to provide feedback about the Social Impact Calculator.

 

 

March 3, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Health: Time to Pay Attention to Chronic Diseases

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From the 1 Ju;ly 2014 blog post

…While infectious diseases remain a significant problem in the developing world, cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases are now among the fastest growing causes of death and disability around the globe. In fact, nearly three-quarters of the 38 million people who died of chronic diseases in 2012 lived in low- or middle-income countries [1].

The good news is that many NCDs can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, such as reducing salt intake for hypertension, stopping smoking for cancer and heart disease, or venting cookstove fumes for lung disease. Other NCDs can be averted or controlled by taking medications, such as statins for high cholesterol or metformin for diabetes.

 

July 2, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hard Questions For Medical Humanitarian Organizations Provoked By Adverse Effects Of Mining Industry

 

Médecins Sans Frontières logo

Médecins Sans Frontières logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 30 August 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

Increasingly humanitarian organizations will find themselves responding to health emergencies provoked by the adverse effects of mining and other extractive industries, setting up a potential clash to do with the core principles and values at the heart of humanitarian medicine, writes Philippe Calain from the humanitarian medical organization, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), in this week’s PLOS Medicine.

“A pragmatic approach of engagement with the corporate sector for the delivery of aid, or an implicit support to mainstream development agendas could compromise the legitimacy of humanitarian medicine,” argues Calain. He continues, “A principled understanding of humanitarian medicine entails selfless moral commitments that are incompatible with the for-profit objectives of corporate industries.”

Drawing on MSF’s experience responding to the “worst lead poisoning epidemic in modern history” resulting from artisanal gold mining in Nigeria’s Zamfara state, Calain explores the pitfalls, difficult alliances, and challenges medical humanitarian organizations must navigate in confronting the dire health consequences resulting from extractive industries, whether informal, illegal, or sanctioned.

He argues that, in developing countries, extractive industries (including ore mineral mining and oil extraction) have far reaching consequences on health through environmental pollution, communicable diseases, violence, destitution, and compromised food security. While humanitarian organisations might be called to intervene in areas occupied by the extractive sector, Calain argues that oil and mineral exploitation reveals a fundamental clash of values between humanitarianism, the for-profit sector, and privatised global philanthropy.

Operating in this relatively new terrain for medical humanitarian organizations – outside the traditional humanitarian response to armed conflict, epidemics, and natural disasters – requires a deeper examination of which types of compromises and alliances are acceptable. Responding to these kinds of emergencies, warns Calain, cannot be reduced to the development of medical and technical expertise alone….

 

 

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Maternal Health and the Status of Women

[Reblog]

Maternal Health and the Status of Women

Both globally and domestically, maternal health and the standing of women are inextricably linked. If women do not have the means and access to give birth safely, with trained and educated midwives, physicians and nurses, with appropriate prenatal education and care, it is often indicative of the standing of women in their communities and countries overall. Women’s inequality is also linked to the soaring population growth in developing countries, which will pose a range of new challenges for the next few generations.

Some may point to the United States as an anomaly, citing women’s increasing economic and financial independence, education, and leadership roles in America, while in terms of maternal health rankings, we remain pathetically far down the line for our resources (49 other countries are safer places to give birth than the U.S. – despite us spending more money on healthcare than anywhere else). Of course, the recent and incessant attacks on allowing women to access credible, accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education and services makes this statistic not entirely…surprising, shall we say.

So, I found the incredibly detailed and visually impressive infographic by the National Post, pulled from spectacular data and research done by Save the Children to be particularly fascinating. What they did was combine information on the health, economic, and education status of women to create overall rankings of the best and worst countries for women, splitting the countries into categories of more developed, less developed, and least developed, and the countries were ranked in relation to the other countries in their category (the divisions were based on the 2008 United Nations Population Division’s World Population Prospects, which most recently no longer classified based on development standing). While these divisions and the rankings can certainly be contentious and may incite some disagreement (nothing unusual there, these kind of rankings usually are), I thought the results were interesting. Some highlights – Norway is first, Somalia is last. The United States was 19th, and Canada was 17th (Estonia fell in between us and the Great White North) in the most developed. Israel is first in the less developed category, and Bhutan is first in the least developed category. The full report with data from Save the Children is also available, if you want to learn more about the information combined to make this image. Take a look:

[larger image at http://larkincallaghan.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/best-and-worst-places-to-be-a-woman.jpg]

A Woman’s Place – Courtesy of the National Post

One thing that I thought was particularly great was that the researchers combined women’s health and children’s heath data to create rankings specific to being a mother, when that category is sometimes only assessed based on access to reproductive care.The specific rankings of maternal health highlights largely mimics the overall standing of women, as seen here – Norway is number one, again, and Niger falls into last place:

Mother’s Index, Courtesy of Save the Children

I think these images and graphs are particularly moving given one of the top health stories coming out of the New York Times today, which showed that a recent Johns Hopkins study indicated meeting the contraception needs of women in developing countries could reduce maternal mortality (and thereby increase the standing of women in many of the nations doing poorly in the above ranking) globally by a third. When looking at the countries in the infographic that have low rates of using modern contraception and the correlation between that and their ranking in terms of status of women, it’s not surprising what the JH researchers found. Many of the countries farther down in the rankings have rates below 50%, and for those countries filling the bottom 25 slots, none of them even reach a rate that is a third of the population in terms of contraceptive use – which of course in most cases has to do with availability, not choice. Wonderfully, the Gates Foundation yesterday announced that they would be donating $1 billion to increase the access to contraceptives in developing countries.

Also of note, and in relation to maternal and newborn health, is a new study recently published by Mailman researchers that showed PEPFAR funded programs in sub-Saharan Africa increased access to healthcare facilities for women (particularly important for this region, as 50% of maternal deaths occur there), thereby increasing the number of births occurring in these facilities – reducing the avoidable (and sometimes inevitable) complications from labor and delivery, decreasing the chance of infection and increasing treatment if contracted. This has clear implications for children as well (and why I think this study relates to the National Post infographic and the NY Times article), since newborns are also able to be assessed by trained healthcare workers and potentially life-threatening conditions averted – including HIV, if the newborns have HIV+ mothers and need early anti-retroviral treatment and a relationship with a healthcare worker and system. And it goes without saying that if a new mother is struggling with post-delivery healthcare issues, including abscesses and fistulas, or was dealing with a high-risk pre-labor condition like preeclampsia, the child will have an increasingly difficult early life, perhaps even a motherless one.

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Health Statistics, Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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