Tag Archives: World Health Organization

MALARIA, DEATH AND BABIES

    

We lost another friend this week.  She was 95.  A few days later, on the same day as her funeral, our youngest daughter gave birth to our tenth grandchild.   Grayson Gabriel, weighing in at 8 lbs 13 oz.   Because we are both sick, neither of us has seen him yet. (Diane has a head cold, which she could pass on to the baby.  A hospital is the last place you want to go when you’re sick!)

I’ve got malaria back again.

It often re-occurs at this time of the year when the weather is changing.  It’s also a problem when winter is moving into spring. These two periods of time coincide with the biblical holy days, which makes the problem very inconvenient.

Malaria remains the world’s number one killer.

The World Health Organization states:  “Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria.  In 2015, there were roughly 212 million malaria cases and an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths.”

It is not contagious. You can only get it when you are bitten by an infected mosquito, always, as it happens, a female.  So be sure to check the sex of the mosquito if you get bitten!

I used to have a “Far Side” cartoon I cut out and inserted into my Bible.  It showed one of Noah’s sons asking his father a question: “Should I kill the two mosquitoes now while we’re ahead?” If only . . .

Malaria and I go back forty years.

My wife, Diane, got it first when we moved to Ghana in 1978.  She spent the Feast of Tabernacles that year in a hotel room in Kumasi, very sick with a mysterious sickness, until a doctor identified it. It was our introduction to Africa’s major illness.  It’s not so long since West Africa was described as “the white man’s grave,” as half of all the whites who went there died within two years from the mosquito borne disease.   Modern drugs make it easier to handle now, but it really is best to avoid getting bitten, an impossibility really.   You can’t spend all day under a mosquito net.

A couple of years later, Diane ended up in a hospital in Accra with the same disease.  And I still vividly remember carrying our four-year-old son into a clinic in the nation’s capital, when he was in a really bad way. Even now, I don’t want to think about it.

On one occasion I was in Cameroon when I came down with malaria. I was in bed in a hotel room for days.   A Cameroonian we knew went to find an anti-malarial drug I requested, but the names in French are different.  It was here, too, that I first heard the comment that “when you get malaria, in the first 24 hours, you’re afraid you’re going to die; in the second 24 hours, you’re afraid you’re going to live!” There’s great deal of truth to this!  In that second 24 hours you just WANT to die.

A few years ago, we were in Zimbabwe and spent a few days at Victoria Falls, the most magnificent site in the world.   We took a “sundowner cruise” one evening.  Our tour guide pointed out the hippos (hippopotamus is Greek for “river horse”) and told us that “the hippo is the most dangerous animal in Africa” and added “except for the mosquito.”

Sometime later, I remember staying with friends in Kariba.  I wanted to go for a walk, but could not as I saw a hippo at the end of their driveway!

Almost thirty years after leaving Africa, I can say that I no longer have a fear of hippos; but I still don’t like mosquitoes!   In Michigan, the bigger problem is West Nile virus.  Mosquitoes are a problem everywhere.

I do have a little annoyance over malaria.   A couple of times I’ve had to go to the hospital for a shot.  But they never believe me when I say I have malaria.  They always want to put me through a series of tests, costing one thousand dollars or more.  Then they come and say, “You have malaria.”  “Well, I told you that when I arrived here four hours ago!  All I wanted was a shot of chloroquine.”

I now have a doctor who prescribes me an anti-malarial drug, which I can use anytime.  It saves me a lot of time (and money) in ER.

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DIVERSITY NOT A STRENGTH

Pat Buchanan has written an excellent article showing how diversity does not work anywhere else in the world, so why do we expect it to work here in the United States?

His article was inspired by Tucker Carlson who asked the same question on his TV show last week.

“Ethnic diversity, after all, tore apart our mighty Cold War rival, splintering the Soviet Union into 15 nations, three of which — Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia — have since split further along ethnic lines.

Russia had to fight two wars to hold onto Chechnya and prevent the diverse peoples of the North Caucasus from splitting off on ethnic grounds, as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan had done.

Ethnic diversity then shattered Yugoslavia into seven separate nations.

And even as we proclaim diversity to be our greatest strength, nations everywhere are recoiling from it.” (“The Unpardonable heresy of Tucker Carlson,” PJB, 9/13).

Mr. Buchanan continues:  “The rise of populism and nationalism across Europe is a reaction to the new diversity represented by the Arab, Asian and African millions who have lately come, and the tens of millions desperate to enter.”

He points out that Japan has not encouraged diversity and does not have the ethnic conflicts that are afflicting other western nations.

Israel has passed a law that enshrines Jewish identity into the state itself; while China is taking active measures against Muslims in the country. Burma did the same and has been condemned for it.

Cleary, diversity doesn’t work and we will come to see that more clearly in the years ahead.

When Jesus Christ was asked by His disciples what would be the signs of His coming,   He replied: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7).   The word “nation” is from the Greek “ethnos” and refers to ethnic groups; a kingdom is a political entity.

Expect more ethnic conflict in the coming years, including western nations.

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A GAY THOMAS?

THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE’ INTRODUCES INCLUSIVE GENDER-BALANCED, MULTICULTURAL CHARACTERS IN MAJOR REVAMP OF CHILDREN’S CLASSIC

–headline in Huffington Post 9/1/18

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HUBRIS WILL NOT DEFEAT THE ENEMY

Bill de Blasio                             Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio

Yesterday (Monday) I read an article, which stated with great certainty that the US has been better at assimilating Muslims than European countries.   I also read a separate article in USA Today, which quoted the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, claiming that “New York City has the strongest, most agile, best-trained first responders in the world.   They’re ready to protect us.”

These are just the latest examples of hubris, which is defined as “excessive pride, or self-confidence, arrogance.”

When it comes to assimilation, I am reminded of a conversation I witnessed on British television one Sunday morning a few years ago. People of African descent who had lived in both the United Kingdom and the United States were discussing this very issue.   All the participants said they felt more comfortable and more assimilated in the UK than the US.

This may or may not be true of Muslims.   My concern here is that Americans should be very careful in making such assumptions, that we cannot say for sure and that, really, it doesn’t make any difference.   We are just as threatened by Islamic terrorism as the Europeans.   Whether the US responders do a better job remains to be seen.   FWIW, France (and Canada) are the two countries that top the World Health Organization’s list of best medical systems.   The US ranks at #37.   When it comes to saving lives, Paris is one of the best places to be.

When it comes to fighting ISIS, there’s a great deal of hubris right now.   Once again, the entertainment industry is partly to blame – it’s not just James Bond that defeats the world’s greatest evils; Americans have been doing it for decades.

Or, have we?

More than fourteen years after 9-11, Al-Qaeda is still killing people.   The hotel attack in Bamako was perpetrated by an al-Qaeda affiliate.

The US has been in Afghanistan for the same length of time (longer than the Russians were there) and there is no end in sight.   In fact, the situation is worse in that ISIS now operates there, along with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Iraq continues with daily conflict.   The immediate goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein  was achieved by the western coalition, but the resultant mess just goes on and on.   The Iraqi conflict gave birth to ISIS, another problem that seems likely to go on and on.   And, if they are ever defeated, there will be other Islamic extremists to replace them.

Proverbs 16:18 says that:   “Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.”

I quoted Niall Ferguson a few days ago.   He showed the similarities between what is happening now and what happened to the Roman Empire in its last days – the barbarians are at the gates.   Indeed, they are within the gates thanks to the West having the most myopic immigration policies in the history of mankind.

The West has lived through a period that might be called the Pax Americana, a peace guaranteed by the United States since the end of World War II.

But the US has not had a decisive victory since World War II, when the global conflict was won by the three great powers, the British Empire (which fought the war from 1939-1945), the Soviet Union (which was forced into war six months before the US) and the United States.   The US could not have done it alone.

Korea ended up a stalemate, a burden still carried on the backs of the US tax-payer.   Vietnam was lost.   At the time, there was plenty of hubris.   Who would have thought, in 1965, that the US could lose to North Vietnam?

The next major conflict was the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91.   The immediate goal of driving Iraq out of Kuwait was achieved, but Saddam lived to fight another day, literally.   And, as I said, the mess goes on and on.

Americans are fond of saying that the US military is the best in the world and that the country spends ten times as much on its military as the next biggest spender.   That may be true, but it’s misleading.   In World War II, for every US soldier actually fighting, there were 60 people employed in support roles; for the British it was 45 to 1; for the Germans, 20 to 1.   Efficiency varies.

Additionally, US military personnel are paid more than those of other countries, so the dollar amount spent is not saying much.

Besides, the greatest threat now is Islamic terrorism, not a professional national army.   The “armies” that brought down Rome were barbaric, wild tribes, the Huns, the Vandals and, ultimately, the Arabs.   We’re faced with a similar enemy, but making it worse, our enemy is also “within.”   Let’s remember, the Babylonian Empire fell because two men betrayed it!   It only took two men to bring down the greatest empire in the world at that time.

The analogy with Babylon is apt in another way, too.   Babylon’s period of ascendancy lasted a little over seventy years, from the defeat of Assyria in 612 BC to its own defeat at the hands of the Persians in 539.   Super powers have great difficulty maintaining dominance over a longer period.   The Romans and the British were two exceptions, but countries simply burn out after 70 years.   The US is burning out, showing great reluctance to take on the growing threats to its own dominance.

It’s predecessor as global superpower number one was Great Britain.   Britain simply went broke.   The US is similarly broke, with a national debt of roughly 20 trillion dollars.   How much longer can the country lead the fight against anything?  ISIS is the wealthiest terror group ever, while the US is now penny pinching.

There’s a third lesson, too, from ancient Assyria and Babylon.   The former invaded the ten tribes of Israel, taking the people away as slaves.   The latter, Babylon, more than a century later, conquered the Jews and took them as slaves to Babylon.   The Old Testament prophets show that these nations were conquered because of their sins.

In a statement after the Paris terror attacks, ISIS said it attacked Paris because it’s a “sinful city, full of perversions.”   This does not mean that ISIS is made up of righteous people, any more than ancient Assyria or Babylon were.   But it does mean that many Muslims, appalled at the liberal values of the West, will naturally flock to ISIS.

In this sense, our own permissiveness works against us and is contributing to the violent acts being perpetrated by the terrorists.

But people in the West have hardened their hearts when it comes to God.   When the Church of England prepared a cinema ad promoting the Lord’s prayer, cinemas refused to show it; when the hashtag “#pray for Paris” appeared on Twitter following the Paris attacks, one French publication told people supporting the sentiment that their prayers were not welcome; that France doesn’t want religion!

Some asked where was God when Paris was attacked?   The answer can be found in Isaiah 59:2.   “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”  Isaiah was preaching to a nation that had known God, but rejected Him.

There are similarities with the western world of today.   We should avoid hubris, clean up our act, and turn to the true God if we are to have any hope of defeating Islamic extremism.

 

A TALE OF TWO COUNTRIES

high-cost-of-healthcare-mount-sinai

My mother died fifteen years ago today.   That year, October 2nd was the Last Great Day, the biblical eighth day of the Feast. The significance was not lost on me.

My father had died a few months earlier, suddenly of a heart attack. Mom was found one morning by two of my brothers, having had a stroke the night before. I flew over to England as soon as I heard the news and was able to stay there in her home, visiting the hospital every day. A few days after her death, I was able to officiate at her funeral, which I had also done for my father.

She was in the hospital six weeks. This year, I was in two different hospitals, both in Michigan, for a total of just over four months, though I had a few days at home in the middle.

Consequently, I’m in a better position than most people to compare the two health systems.

I cannot complain about my mother’s treatment.   She was 73. Her stroke left her paralyzed down the left side. She could not move without help. She couldn’t even feed herself.

After consultations with the head of the cardiac unit at the Princess Diana Hospital in our hometown of Grimsby, it was decided that she should be made as comfortable as possible for as long as necessary. The hospital could have kept her alive indefinitely by inserting a feeding tube into her stomach but she would never be restored to her former state of health. The cardiologist did not want to do anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary.

There was no “death panel” making a decision on her life. My brothers and I made the decision in consultation with the cardiologist. We knew that mom would not want to stay alive, dependent on a feeding tube, relying on others for all her basic needs. None of her sons would want that and we knew she wouldn’t.

She had her own room and was able to receive visitors at any time.

I have often wondered how things might have gone differently if she had been in an American hospital. It is more likely that the feeding tube would have been inserted and she could have lived a few more years, albeit in the hospital. As long as Medicare (i.e. the government) would pay, the hospital would have kept her alive. But that would not have been good for her.

My hospital stays this year involved two major back surgeries, MRSA, abscesses on my spine and all the complications that came directly from my treatment. On two occasions, my wife was told that I might not make it. I was told on one occasion. I’m thankful they continued to treat me.

The complications I suffered were mostly due to the painkillers and strong antibiotics they gave me. They caused chronic nausea and vomiting that left me demoralized and enervated. Eventually, I took myself off all my medications, arranged for my discharge and have been improving ever since.

The biggest problem with both health care systems comes down to one word – money.

In England, where the government controls most health care, they are always trying to save money. In the US, the health care providers are always trying to make money and will often give you treatment and medications you really don’t need. It’s not surprising that Americans have the most expensive health care system in the world, spending almost 20% of GNP on health, compared to an average figure in the western world of 8%. Yet, in spite of the amount spent on health care, we rank 37th in the World Health Organization’s annual ranking of national health care systems. The UK is at number 18. France and Canada compete for number one.

One area in which the US is seriously deficient is in prevention. Governments presiding over socialized medical systems want to save money, so prevention is important. In the US, there’s no money to be made from prevention.

In a study comparing the US and UK’s medical systems a few years ago, it was found that you are twice as likely to die from a heart attack in the United States as in England.

One of my doctors knew of this and said that the hospital I was in was making every effort to improve on this statistic. Personally, I think one factor is that in the UK, heart attack victims will, on average, live closer to a hospital than the average American.   There is little that can be done about this. There are, of course, other factors and hopefully improvements are being made. This is a concern of mine as both my parents died from heart problems.

The same study showed that you are more likely to survive cancer in the US than in the UK. American hospitals are more likely to have all the latest equipment, reflecting advances made in medical research. My wife’s cancer was dealt with very quickly and she is now cancer free. In the UK, she might have had to wait longer for treatment.

I was surprised to read that the US lags behind England and many other western countries when it comes to childbirth and early childcare. The US infant mortality rate is quite high when compared to other advanced nations.

I believe that free enterprise serves people better than government. It is also the most cost-efficient way of delivering anything, whether it be food at the supermarket, gas at the pump, utilities, education or health care. However, the American system is not really a free enterprise system.

For a start, over half of health care is now government. Most of my costs were taken care of by government. In one way I’m thankful for that but a part of me asks: where is the money coming from? Somebody has to pay for it. Government is not careful with money. It’s willingness to foot the bill regardless of cost inevitably pushes up the price and leads to abuse.

Hospitals are now taking maximum advantage of this. Some of the procedures I was subject to seemed unnecessary. They simply ran up my bill.   When I was going through a long period of chronic nausea, they kept giving me additional medications, which only made things worse. The cost of all these pills was added to my bill, for a much higher charge than the pharmacy would make you pay.

Insurance companies also distort free enterprise. The cost of health care has risen dramatically in recent years. Roughly 20% of the cost is administrative, charges added by medical insurance companies. Healthcare is big business in the US and has made a lot of people very wealthy. This was not the case before World War II, before insurance companies got in on the act. If an individual patient had to negotiate his own health care with a provider, it would help keep the bill down. A doctor’s visit would cost closer to $20 than the $100+ it costs now. Doctors could only charge what the market could stand, just as supermarkets do when selling us groceries.

My wife and I scrutinized my bills closely and found a number of charges that we questioned. They charged me $220 for a psychiatric evaluation, which I don’t remember having. Now, I’ve no doubt I would benefit from a psychiatric evaluation but how come I was charged $220 for something I don’t even remember. My hospital room was $2,000 a night, surely excessive when you consider that you can stay in the best hotels in the world for far less? I was also charged $3,000 for a back brace that I never got.   Physical therapy was also $2,000 a day for a ninety-minute session.

As I said, the two systems come down to money. I do not see how either system is sustainable long-term. The UK has been in steady decline as a global and military power as each year the National Health Service requires more funding. In the US, medical bills are now the biggest cause of bankruptcy. The average family is now spending $5,000 per year more on health care than it did ten years ago – and this in a time of declining real wages. Something has to give. There needs to be real changes, whether in the United Kingdom or the United States.

After leaving the hospital I had to consult with a G.I specialist about my nausea. I am still having digestive problems. He recommended a colonoscopy. I had my first one with him seven years ago, so he was rather insistent I have another, as I was overdue.

I didn’t say anything but my first thought was of the comparison study I mentioned earlier.

Colonoscopies are not routinely done in the UK. They are only done when it is felt necessary. The conclusion of the study was that this costs only 25 lives a year in Britain. That’s a small cost, compared to the financial cost, which would force economies in other areas.

As I’m no fan of colonoscopies, I sat there wishing I were in England!