Category Archives: public health

Transparency in Medicine

Ever wonder what healthcare would look like if we recognized the fact that everyone is human? What if we actually recognized that healthcare practitioners are human, normal people who are often affected by circumstances they cannot control.  Whether those circumstances occur before they enter work or while they are working, sometimes their work is affected. No one is perfect and to hold doctors to the standard of perfect is a tall order. Tort reform has worked to protect doctors from frivolous lawsuits, but isn’t this interesting?  When people search the internet for medical information, they are often led to websites run by trial lawyers.  hhmmm,  Coincidence?  I think not.  This is one example of why doctors (when they do make mistakes) are more apt to cover them up or place blame somewhere else.  Seriously, wouldn’t you if your decades of training, practice, financial stability, and reputation were at stake?

That’s why this story is so inspiring.  It’s a little piece of hope.  Someone made a mistake and admitted it.  Can you imagine how much more effective and efficient our entire healthcare system might be if people were more transparent about the guidelines they followed stringently and things still went wrong (which, in this case, might lead to changing standard guidelines to improve the system based on evidence instead of estimated guessing) and guidelines they did not obey (and maybe never do because of how absurd and time-consuming they may be).  Imagine a world where doctors feel free to admit how they ACTUALLY treated their patients for that infection or performed that surgery.  Clinical practice guidelines would be based on evidence that proved effective and ineffective through clinical practice.  We would all be better for it.


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United Nations MDG Summit Kick Off

The UN Summit on the 2015 Millennium Development Goals begins today.   With only five years remaining to reach the 2015 deadline key world leaders will meet to discuss the necessary steps to ensure the goals are met.  The economic recession has worked to diminish and delay the work of the MDGs. 

To view photos of the Eight Development Goals, click here.  These photos are a representation of the goals we are striving towards, Worldwide.

See what you can do to get involved.

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Dr. McCurdy at University of Texas School of Public Health Weighs in with New York Times

Dr. McCurdy’s qualitative research and ethnographic approach uncover the  practice of  ‘flashblood,’ amongst injecting heroin users.  Addicts unable to afford the heroin inject fresh blood that may have traces of heroin in it, putting them at the highest possible risk of contracting AIDS and hepatitis. To learn more about  ‘flashbood’ and McCurdy’s findings, go here

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Health Reform: on a global Scale

So, World Focus had a great program on health around the world tonight.  After health reform passed in the U.S. it’s interesting to compare what nations around the world are doing in the name of health.  From Chile and Brazil to Singapore and Canada, health plans are investigated and explained.  Check it out by clicking here. And check back soon for an update on how the national healthcare reform will affect you and your family.

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RedeNUTES Sexual Health Teleseminar

One of the services RedeNUTES provides to PSF teams is teleseminars.  I’ve discussed this briefly in a previous blog, but basically it’s one of the many services the RedeNUTES program uses to equip medical teams (composed of Doctors, nurses, dentists and community health workers) working in rural areas within the state of Pernambuco. So basically the way it works is like this, A medical professional working in the Hospital Das Clinicas (Major public hospital-where the best of the best work) in Recife gives a seminar on a certain topic of interest to the PSF teams working in exterior areas.  Of the 79 cities, 31 dialed up to partake in the sexual health teleseminar.

Sexual Health, along with Mental, Dental, Adolescent are among the most attended seminars by PSF teams.  Which we can take to mean that PSF teams need support and to learn more about these areas in order to better serve their communities.   The goal is that every PSF team would participate in 4 seminars a month-there are 5 seminars offered each week-so the goal is not difficult to meet.

Now back to what I observed while I sat in.  A nice little OBGYN nurse gave an intricately information and useful lecture on Sexual health from the various forms of contraceptives, many of which I had never heard of (i’m talking implants, spermacides, injections) and their effectiveness (she had percentages next to every single contraceptive listed as well as how to use each item.  There was also a note about abstinence being the best policy after every contraception she listed, but I think these people realize PEPFAR Bush style-where it’s a strictly abstinence only policy- does not work ‘en la interior du Brasil.’ This nurse lectured for about 45 minutes.  As she was lecturing, the PSF teams who were logged in were asking questions online. These questions, as well as the actual attendance and participation of the PSF teams are moderated by Beti, the education specialist.  At the end of the lecture, Beti had collected and compiled the list of questions submitted by each of the teams.  She asked the all-knowing nurse and PSF teams would get answers to their questions on the spot.

After the lecture, each PSF team is asked to fill out an evaluation form of the content of the material they watched.  How useful was it, could they relay this information to someone else if necessary, did they benefit directly from this time, was the time too long or short, was the subject matter useful, was there something new they learned?  Granted, each PSF team is not required to fill out these evaluations, and several do not-which is a pity-but the feedback from these evaluations is used for future lectures.  Very impressive.  I keep hoping someone will post a comment like, “Duh Sarah, we have a program exactly like that, check it out!” and post a link.  Anyone?

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Post Carnival

I haven’t updated for a while.  I have visited a private hospital and a philanthropic hospital here in Brazil and learned much more about the health and telehealth system here.  Carnival also happened, and I got the ‘gripada’ also known as ‘after carnival flu’.  They say it’s very common due to the close contact with people and sub-par sanitary conditions.  Although, I should have avoided it with my Public health Knowledge and the friendly reminders I received during Carnival.

I was surprised to see the presence of public health during this massive celebration.  Great JOB, Brazil! check out the pictures I took of pamphlets and other ‘paraphernalia’ ladies were handing out in Olinda-one of the hot spots for carnival.  Granted, this was at 9 am in the morning which is when most of the families are out-I wonder if they had anything left to hand out during the afternoon when the wild and crazy party people start showing up.

Well, something is better than nothing!  Check it out!

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Health Systems: A Brief Comparison

So While the Brazilian Health system has figured out a way to treat everyone with HIV/Aids free of charge, the U.S. is back to square one of our national healthcare debate.  When it comes to health, Brazil, a country that is slighty smaller than the U.S. in terms of surface area and has experienced democratic ruling for less than 50 years, is all about the rights of the people. Rich or poor, healthy or sick, young or old. 

Meanwhile in the U.S., a country rich with a history of freedoms fought, we´re avoiding a question that has yet to be answered concerning health; and I envision this reform game we are in the midst of will continue until it is answered.  Do people have the right to health or is it a privilege for those who can afford it?

Brazil decided. Their economy is booming and every individual has the right to treatment without fear of bankruptcy-something we still aspire to in the U.S. Actually in Brazil, every individual has the right to a sex change operation as well as any other surgery as long as the government  is convinced the human right of that individual is not being met-and the federal government pays for it all. I´m not proposing our U.S. federal government pay for sex change operations or forms of plastic surgery that are solely for cosmetic purposes.  But I am proposing we engage in the Brazilian mentality that health is a right every individual deserves.

Instead we´re here.  In a political situation all too familiar and all too similar to that of a dog chasing his tail.  We need to reform our system, that´s a given.  But maybe we need to take a step back from this political debate on the specifics of whether our new system should cover abortions and first decide as a nation whether we believe health is a right or a privilege-and build a system that efficiently addresses the outcome of this right or privilege question.


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