Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Homeland Insecurity" A video from Every Child Matters

This video summarizes a new report form Every Child Matters. Did you know that a UNICEF ranking shows the US to trail in a sad position of 20th out of 21 rich democracies in child well being?

"The life chances of children are vastly improved when they are the top priority of supportive families and communities. But as the numbers in our report show, this happy ending eludes many millions of children, who are challenged by problems that should not exist in the world’s wealthiest nation—health care, child abuse, imprisonment, school readiness, afterschool care, and poverty. This report finds that new investments children's programs can make homeland security a reality for all children."

Watch the Homeland Insecurity Video

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

World TB day coming up...get educated!

Scientific American has run an editorial essay just in time to get us thinking about World TB day coming up on March 24. John Rennie tells a bit about the killer and why it is still such an insidious and devastating problem today. His comments precede an article called "New Tactics in the Fight Against Tuberculosis"

Some excerpts from the editorial:
"Most Americans have the luxury of knowing almost nothing about tuberculosis. Because it is typically not a fact of life for us or anyone we know 99 percent of its victims are the poor residing in developing countries TB can sit comfortingly on the horizon of our awareness, perhaps colored by wisps of romanticized claptrap about John Keats and other consumptive poets whose presentiment of their looming mortality is imagined to have spiritually illuminated their genius.

TB is anything but romantic, however. It is a grindingly awful, painful, wretched affliction that preys on the weak and those already worst served by society. Roughly 5,000 more of them will die of it on the day you read this column."

"Because TB strikes those with weakened immune systems, it has joined forces in recent decades with HIV, the other modern infectious scourge, further complicating the management and treatment of both conditions. Moreover, TB is adept at evolving resistance to antibiotics. Health authorities have helplessly watched the emergence of both a multidrug-resistant strain that survives the two most powerful treatments and an extensively drug-resistant strain that shrugs off the second-line antibiotics as well.

The depleted state of medicine's arsenal against TB is all the more galling because it could and should have been avoided. TB became aggressively antibiotic-resistant because so many patients stopped taking their pills when they started to feel better a failure of both human nature and the health care system. Economics, too, has abetted TB's survival: paltry financial incentives for serving the huge but poor market of its patients have historically dulled pharmaceutical industry interest. Fortunately, as Clifton E. Barry III and Maija S. Cheung describe in "New Tactics against Tuberculosis", philanthropic and governmental grants are reinvigorating that research."