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Archive for the ‘Health Systems’ Category

By: Samantha Metlitz

Period, menstruation, time of the month, crimson tide, whatever you call it, most of us know something about periods and fifty percent of the world’s population have firsthand experience with it. Women get it once a month for the majority of their lives, yet all around the world periods are a taboo subject. People become uncomfortable talking about periods and women feel the need to hide when they get theirs like it’s something embarrassing and shameful to have. While in high school, I would try to hide tampons and pads in pockets or sleeves or bring my whole backpack to the bathroom. I felt the need to hide the fact that I was on my period as if it was shameful in some way. In other countries, the stigma surrounding menstruation and menstrual hygiene causes bigger issues. In some places, women are isolated during their periods or are forced to leave schools because of lack of proper sanitation and access to sanitary products. According to a World Bank blog post, girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss 20% of a school year because of menstruation (Lusk-Stover, 2016). Lack of access to proper menstrual hygiene products, water, and sanitation is a major issue for women. A study on this issue found that menstrual hygiene in refugee camps was not being properly addressed because the emergency response workers were uncomfortably about the subject, causing them not to properly address the issue (Schmitt et al., 2017). Menstrual hygiene and menstruation need to become normalized so that they’re no longer taboo.

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By: Pei-Hsuan Li

Kari Whitehead started to gradually notice something different about her daughter, Emily. Not long after seeing purple bruises on her legs, bleeding gums, bloody noses, and severe leg pains, Emily was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) on May 28, 2010 when she was only five years old.

Emily received the standard treatment for ALL but relapsed after 16 months. Fortunately for the Whitehead’s, news appeared of a new and innovative drug called Kymriah. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the opening of the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell trial early. Emily became Patient 1 of the Phase 1 trial. Now she is 12 years old, and she has remained in complete remission since her seventh birthday. Last year, oFollowing Kymriah, on October 18, 2017, Yescarta, a treatment for adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma developed by Kite Pharma, was approved as the second FDA-approved gene therapy. Price listed: $373,000.

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By: Brittany Foushee

Race in the United States has always been a hot topic of its time. From policy reform, to shifts in social attitudes, race and racism have been a systemic issue in this country. Historically, one may say that America has yet to get it right when it comes to social equity and equality amongst races in this country. However, when looking at the differences between this country’s history and the present day, others may say America is not too shabby in race equality. In 2011 Pew Research Center surveyed a population of Americans to answer the question “how big a problem is racism in our society today? Is it a big problem, a small problem, or not a problem at all?”. Results showed that 8% of Americans believe race is not a problem at allFOOTNOTE: Footnote. Comparing this percentage to another theory, when asked in a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in 2013, 14% of Americans believe Big Foot existsFOOTNOTE: Footnote. Americans are nearly twice as likely to believe in a mythological creature than to believe race is a problem in this country. Seeing the denial of racism in America, we can begin to see how race can play a major factor in policy and health outcomes. In a study conducted in 2008 by Gallup surveying Black and White Americans on their perception of life expectancy for Black Americans, 33% of white Americans said race is not at all a factor in life expectancy for Black Americans, while only 13% of Black Americans stated the sameFOOTNOTE: Footnote. When comparing widespread beliefs and misconceptions regarding race and health in America, as well as analyzing data and statistics regarding disease and health disparities amongst racial groups, we can begin to see the issue at hand is systemic and requires more than a simple quick fix to compensate for.

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By: Morgan Duffney

Today, when we watch cable news and see the banner ‘Crisis in Pakistan’ shoot across the television screen, a few thoughts and fears come to mind: terrorism, political instability, and loosely controlled nuclear weapons. What no one ever thinks about is the public health disaster currently looming over the country, which is already in a fragile state. What never appears on a breaking news banner on Fox News or CNN, but does appear on the front pages of Pakistan Today is that in Pakistan, an estimated . The inability to treat contaminated water, supply its citizens with this basic necessity to live, and stem the tide of human suffering is not only a problem faced by the Pakistani government, but is currently a global public health crisis.

Pakistan is just one country out of the many throughout the world currently struggling to relieve the suffering of their people and resolve this public health emergency. To put this crisis into a global perspective, as of 2014, the United Nations estimated that 2.5 billion people receive their drinking water from sources without improved sanitation, with roughly two million tons of sewage and other pollutants entering the world’s water system each day. Without an adequate response and action on the part of public health organizations throughout the world, the future looks quite bleak; as the World Health Organization (WHO) now predicts that by 2025 half of the world’s population will live in “water-stressed areas” (2017).

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By: Tiffany Chen

Every minute, 5 babies around the world die. Each and every day, 7,000 newborn babies are dying from preventable causes. This totals up to 2.6 million a year. This month, UNICEF released a shocking report detailing the numbers of newborn babies around the world who are dying of preventable causes or are stillborn. Eighty percent of these deaths are a result of lack of affordable and quality health care delivered by people who are well-trained, as well as providing basic services like clean water and proper nutrition to the newborn and mother.

While the rate of mortality for children from 1 month to 5 years old continues to decrease on a global scale, the proportion of these deaths that are made up of newborns is growing larger and larger. UNICEF cites two major reasons for this pattern. First, because newborn mortality is often caused by prematurity, complications surrounding delivery, and infections, a system-wide approach is necessary to fully address them. These issues cannot be solved by a miracle pill or a simple treatment; they require a restructuring of the way that services are delivered and how the healthcare system functions. The second issue, according to UNICEF, is the lack of global focus on the issue of ending newborn mortality.

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By: Anonymous Student

I received my first medical bill in 2014. The cost of an ambulance and one blood sample amounted to roughly five thousand dollars. I was ‘diagnosed’ with dehydration. Given that I am an international student, my school assumed I would need insurance nine out of twelve months during a year since I spend every summer in my home country, Italy.

In retrospect, while in Italy, I had a constitutional guarantee to access medical care free of charge. With my healthcare card, namely, Tessera Sanitaria, I did not pay for doctor visits, or the prescribed pills that I would get from the nearby pharmacy. Technically speaking, my parents did pay into the system through their taxes, but it was only a small portion of their monthly income. Contrary, now that I live in the United States, not only do I expend on an excessively costly insurance, but I also pay for co-pays and debatable fees that should be covered by my insurer in the first place. The bill I received that one summer, was not an act of discrimination brought out because I am a foreigner; it was a problem that, before the Affordable Care Act, also affected all the “46.3 million [of uninsured] American adults.” (Reinberg) So why do two developed countries differ so much when it comes to taking care of their citizens’ health?

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By Sherylle Estrellas

Across the world, many developed countries supply universal health care, allowing everyone the health coverage and service he or she needs at no or little cost to the consumer. Meanwhile, America, among the most developed and richest countries in the world, still has yet to implement an equitable and efficient health care coverage system. Although the Affordable Care Act means to improve the system, one can only wonder why it has taken so long for America to change its ways. Economist Victor Fuchs suggests a few reasons why.

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