The sun is setting on a warmish day in Seattle, and the fact that there was sun and that I can say “warmish” portends better weather ahead. Having just caught up on several issues of The Lancet, I reaffirm that it is, for me, the most interesting journal that I get.
Of the many items of interest in the June 11-17 issue, several resonated.
In 2010, there was an increase in corporate philanthropy of $2 billion. Half of that increase was by pharmaceutic companies in the form of both medication donations (presumably to developing countries), and monetary donations. In the midst of many deserved attacks on the industry, I am reminded that some pharmaceutical companies have made sizable. donations. Best known is the donation, mostly to African counties, of ivermectin by Merck. Ivermectin is used to treat hookworm, onchocerciasis, and other parasitic diseases. Hookworm is the most common cause of both mild and severe childhood anemia, and ivermectin is highly effective. Onchocerciasis, nickname “river blindness,” is one of the most prominent causes of blindness in countries where it is endemic, and the WHO, NGOs, and charities, in cooperation with local health agencies, have made concerted efforts to eliminate oncho. GIS, couple with remote sensing, have been instrumental in these efforts, because these tools point to high risk areas and with this, targeted intervention can take place. In addition, GIS is crucial in accurate prediction of where oncho will be found in the future.
Another brief article on HIV in Mississippi demonstrates that nearly 50% of the individuals who are HIV positive do not receive antiretroviral therapy, and, notably, this is a rate comparable to that found in Ethiopia. Accessibility to health care in that state is very poor. About 40% of the population lack sufficient access to family physicians and other primary care clinicians. These, and other themes, are highlighted in a report by Human Rights Watch titled “Rights at Risk.”