Monday, July 09, 2007

Millennial Challege: Making the Healing Profession accountable to the stakeholders!

Dear Global Citizens and Friends of Ethiopia:

The healing profession in the past has been associated with the most noble of all professions, the spiritual and physical scientists and priest kings.

More recently, as science has advanced dramatically towards understanding the cause of ill health and well being, our ability to look after ourselves both in terms of our spiritual and physical well being is deteriorating very fast.

The global population of 6.5 billion people live in very inhospitable places or are creating unhealthy environment such that the health situation of the 6.5 billion people is rapidly deteriorating. Global warming and associated human malfunctioning behaviors and survival skills are making the healing profession a very tenuous environment.

The experience of the globe is rather poor in the field of spiritual, emotional and physical well being. The so called "the most advanced country" in the world, the USA with over 350 million people has over 50 million that is almost 15% of the population with no health coverage. The rest 85% are in a very poor spiritual, emotional and physical health due to the poor diet and unhealthy life styles of no or very little exercise and consumption of too much toxic substances and even poisonous products be it in the air, water, or the physical environment that is polluted by high voltage electro-magnetic waves from all the electronic gadgets where there is no guidelines about minimum healthy level of electro-magnetic exposure.

Even as I write this I am surrounded by cell phones, computers, radios and airconitioning and light and heating, electro-magnetic waves all concentrated in one little room whose long term exposure is not assessed for optimum health. I have no access to natural earth or water to discharge the massive electromagnetic statitic energy that could potentially disrupt my own electro-magnetic system like the cardio-vascular and cellular magnetic network.

All the same, the recent film "Sicko" shows my own research experience of the past 15 years or so, when I first travelled to the USA from London, Great Britain to take part in the Hillary Rodam Clinton Health Task Force research. I wrote a very similar paper comparing health care in the USA with Canada, England, France, Scandinavia, Japan and even small developing countries in Latin America. It is so amazing how pictures are much more powerful than words.

Here Michael Moore is sharing the information many of us in the profession have been trying to address for the past 20 years or so about disparities in health among communities and regions of the world. This film is worth reviewing as it points to a very serious development in the health field. Good health cannot be acquired by mere technological advancement alone by a sense of fair distribution of knowledge and change in behavior and life style not only of individuals but the community, society in general.

Sicko should be seen side by side with Al Gore's movies about global warming as health is the outcome of both the environment and individual life styles, etc. a combination of nature and nurture.

Please read the following review by Lancet- the British Medical Journal below.

Remember: Our business in health is not finished yet! We have a lot to learn about nature, nurture and our own lifestyles that impact our health and well being.

with regards

Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises for Peace and Prosperity;

Sicko: Prescription for change ( The Lancet 2007, January 30)

The Lancet 2007; 369:2151-2152
DOI:10.1016/ S0140-6736( 07)60995- 7
Perspectives, Film Prescription for change Faith McLellan

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Sicko Written and directed by Michael Moore. The Weinstein Company, 2007. On general release in the USA. http://www.michaelm sicko

Michael Moore has done it again. The film-maker has previously taken on big business (Roger & Me), gun control (Bowling for Columbine), and the Bush administration' s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (Fahrenheit 9/11). But now he pulls out his big gun, so to speak—the US health-care system.

I use the terms “care” and “system” loosely, as Moore's film painfully underscores what many in the USA know all too well. For the nearly 50 million Americans who have no health insurance—one in seven citizens of working age—care is in short supply, and there doesn't seem to be much of a system at all. Ironically, the USA can lay claim to the highest per-capita expenditure on health care on the planet, but also, to cite just one bleak statistic, to one of the worst infant mortality rates in the developed world.

The USA is the only industrialised country without a national health-insurance scheme. The consequences are not trivial. In 2002, the US Institute of
Medicine estimated that more than 18000 Americans die each year because they have no health-care coverage. Further, a complete lack of insurance is not the only contributor to poor personal and financial health. Underinsurance, high deductibles, and care that is not covered under an insurance policy in the first place or for which payment is denied after that care has been delivered can result in financial catastrophe for individuals and families.

Where to begin to untangle this mess? Moore starts with the personal stories of patients—or, perhaps more accurately, would-be patients. These tragicomic tales range from the man who, after an accident with a table saw, has to choose between having his middle finger reattached ($60000) or his ring finger (a bargain at $12000; in the spirit of romance, he chose the cheaper but dearer option); to the woman who is told that her brain tumour is not life-threatening (she's dead); to the 22-year-old woman whose insurance company denied treatment because she “shouldn't have” cervical cancer at her age; to the insured couple whose out-of-pocket medical expenses forced them into bankruptcy and to sell their house so they could move into a room in their not-altogether- welcoming daughter's basement; to a woman, unconscious from a car accident, whose insurance company refused to pay for her ambulance trip to the hospital because she hadn't had the foresight to get her emergency approved in advance.

We also meet some World Trade Center workers who have developed lung diseases but can't get medical care. The ostensible reason is that they weren't anybody's employees, that is, they were volunteer firemen, emergency medical technicians, and ordinary citizens who rushed to the site to help rescue anyone who might still have been alive in that toxic hell-hole. “Only” volunteers.

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Their stories are by turns heartbreaking, jaw-dropping, and maddening. If they weren't so patently absurd and so clearly reflective of an utterly shameful system, they might also be more than faintly hilarious.

How did Moore manage to dig up this group of astonishing tales? Sadly enough, it was pretty simple. He put up a notice on his website, michaelmoore. com, asking for personal health-care horror stories. Within a week, he says, he had received more than 25000 responses. One of those respondents, a man whose insurance company approved a cochlear implant for his daughter, but for one ear only, didn't wait to hear from Moore. He wrote the company a letter, revealing that the impossible-to- ignore Moore was making a film—about them! Had their CEO, he asked, ever been in a film before? What transpired in the interim is anybody's guess: maybe it had all been a mistake in the first place, maybe a medical officer consulted the evidence for the efficacy of bilateral implants,whatever.

Next thing you know, the deaf girl's father finds a message on his answering machine. From a representative of the insurance company. The previous denial of service, the caller explained, had been, ahem, overturned. Right-ear implant coming right up.

The film ranges widely—too widely—into history and politics, socialism and taxes, Congress and Big Pharma. All of these have a part in the USA's health-care crisis, but having so many foci sometimes tips the film into a lazy superficiality. I doubt if it will come as news to The Lancet's readers that the UK's National Health Service, while laudably providing free care to all, at present faces many challenges. Nor that health care in France, although free and remarkably responsive, comes at the price of a tax and social burden that would give many free-market- inclined Americans pause for thought.

But these complexities will come as a surprise to those for whom the film is their sole source of information on these systems. Moore presents health care in the UK and France as unassailable, and all its recipients as satisfied and grateful. The reality is a bit messier than depicted.

Sicko's climax, and its most controversial foray, geopolitically speaking, is a stroke of brilliance. I won't spoil it here. Suffice it to say, it's got everything: a dash of slapstick, irony in spades, a touch of pathos. Go see for yourself.
No one has ever accused Moore of neutrality or of balance. (You can see the things he has been accused of on any number of anti-Michael Moore websites.)

Nuance isn't the first word that comes to mind to describe his work. He can, and does, with evident glee, make some of his subjects look perfectly inane (granted, particularly when he's skewering politicians, there's no lack of material to work with). He glosses over complexities, he's usually amusing but often too facile, and the faux naiveté can wear thin. But he is also the best kind of manipulator, an agitator and a provocateur who stands in a long and storied tradition of muck-raking in US journalism.

My country—the sick, the well, the insurance companies with all their byzantine, mind-numbing bureaucracy, the lobbyists who seem to have bought all segments of the executive and legislative branches, and, most especially, our elected representatives— could do with a few more irritants just like him.

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