03 February 2016

Comparing the politics of the leading U.S. presidential candidates


That is according to politicalcompus.org. The scale is global, for those who think it looks too extreme. What is interesting is the fact that Clinton's position in 2016 is about the same as where Bush is located in the 2004 electoral chart.

12 January 2016

American healthcare so expensive, Biden had to consider selling house to cover costs

Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama
Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama look at an app on an iPhone in the Outer Oval Office, Saturday, July 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The New York Times reports the touching story of President Obama offering financial help for Vice President Biden when his son Beau fell ill. Concerned about the financial burden on his son's family, Biden told Obama he and his wife would sell their house, if necessary, to help out.
“He got up, and he said: ‘Don’t sell that house. Promise me you won’t sell the house,’” Mr. Biden remembered. “He said: ‘I’ll give you the money. Whatever you need, I’ll give you the money. Don’t, Joe. Promise me. Promise me.’ I said, ‘I don’t think we’re going to have to anyway.’ He said, ‘Promise me.’”
The story is a neat look into the relationship between Obama and Biden. But that is not the real story.

Biden's experience is U.S. healthcare in a nutshell. Costs are so high that even the most powerful people have to consider extraordinary steps to get by. That ain't right.

HT Melody

11 January 2016

India may have a malaria problem on its hands

It is no secret that global health data has its problems. They matter particularly when trying to understand disease burden trends and how to respond. As Ankita Rao & Vivekananda Nemana find in India, the issue may lead to some major problems. Take malaria in India for example:
The Indian government has spent billions of dollars — about $500 million from 2000 to 2013 — in its fight against malaria, a mosquito-borne disease. International agencies such as the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a big funder of global public health efforts, have provided major support. The country’s revamped national malaria program is on par with the standard of global care. But its recordkeeping has few admirers. Last year the government recorded only 561 deaths due to malaria, while an independent estimate earlier in the decade shows that the real toll could be as high as 200,000 each year. The disease is especially prevalent among the poor and in India’s vast rural areas, where about two-thirds of the population lives but is served by just 20 percent of the country’s health care infrastructure.

The staggering gap between official data and reality means that thousands of people die without an accurate diagnosis, according to a study by the British medical journal The Lancet. And the government is able to tout the malaria program’s success without a clear picture of how many people are dying. Malaria costs the country nearly $2 billion each year, and the impact of lost earnings and treatment bills falls disproportionately on rural, poor families. An extensive investigation by Al Jazeera America unearthed routine manipulation of malaria data, crippling shortages of essential supplies, chronic understaffing of hospitals and enduring dysfunction in World Bank–funded projects, which led to the Indian government’s returning millions of dollars in aid.
I wonder how many fill-in-the-blank combinations there are for disease/health issue (TB, dengue, maternal morality, stunting) and country (Kenya, Vietnam, Brazil) that can fit into the above paragraphs. Recent reports from major health bodies now include a section talking about the importance of data. Is this an issue that deserves more attention?

I am starting to think the answer is "yes."

06 November 2015

Which expert does Hillary Clinton consult about global poverty?

Hint: It's not an expert, government official, or people actually living in poverty.

HT +Africa is a Country 

A cynical view of news?

Photo shared by Independent Liverpool on Facebook reads: "News: Rich people paying rich people to tell middle class people to blame poor people."

Can't say I share the sentiment, but I can see why some people feel this way. There are certainly examples of that happening.

03 November 2015

Map of the day: In which Chinese province will you live longest?

As is the case for nearly everywhere in the world, all parts of a country are not created equal. This map from The Economist shows the varying outcomes in each province.

More info:
The study* shows that a baby born in China in 1990 would live on average to the age of 68. One born in 2013 could expect to reach 76, beyond the age at which Confucius said “one can follow one’s heart’s desires—without crossing the line.” There is a large disparity between provinces, but the gap is narrowing. In Shanghai life expectancy is now 83—as good as Switzerland. People in six areas live longer than Americans. The most impressive progress has taken place in the most benighted regions: a child in Tibet born in 1990 had a life expectancy of 56, akin to one of the poorest African countries. This has risen to 70, roughly the same as Moldova, one of Europe’s poorer countries.
HT The Intrepreter 

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