Categories
Health

It’s World AIDS Day

Protoype of a sculputre to be unveiled today by the Desert AIDS Project in Palm Springs, CA / Photo: Jayel Aheram, flickr
Desert AIDS Project sculpture prototype / Photo: Jayel Aheram, flickr

Universal access and human rights is the theme for this year’s World AIDS Day. For 21 years, we’ve used 1 December to remind ourselves that the virus exists during the other 364 days of the year as well.

By the way, the US recently announced that it would lift a ban on people carrying the HIV virus from entering the country, a move that was long overdue.

From the ISN Digital Library:

    • HIV in the UK from the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) in London

 

 

You can scan all of our offerings concerning AIDS/HIV here.

Categories
International Relations Government Health

Lobbying the Political Agenda

Sealing the deal, while setting the agenda? / Photo: thinkpanama/flickr
Sealing the deal, while setting the agenda? / Photo: thinkpanama/flickr

In mid-September, US President Barack Obama risked tense bilateral trade relations with China by opting for the imposition of an import tariff on tires. He legitimized his decision by saying that in the tire industry 5,000 jobs had been lost since 2004. Even though the loss of 5,000 jobs is bad for the economy, its repercussions are relatively minor compared to when tens of thousands of people are getting fired in the financial sector. The question of why the US wants to instate such a tariff remains.

The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) gives the answer, noting that the United Steel Workers union (a US labor group) strongly acted for the imposition of the tariff to which Obama eventually agreed to.

The possible influence of lobby groups on the US political agenda is of particular interest. President Obama resisted support from such groups during his campaign, yet lobbying has always been an integrated part of US politics. Open Secrets, from the US-based Center for Responsive Politics, offers a list of the main industries that donate to political campaigns. Among the top ranking in 2008 were the pharmaceutical, utility and insurance industries as well as the oil and gas industry.

Coincidentally or based on necessity, the reform of the American healthcare sector is currently one of Obama’s main concerns. Will we eventually see Obama’s future agenda being set by these other industries? Moreover, Obama’s campaign enjoyed crucial support by various labor unions, with memberships comprised of domestic blue-collar workers and potential opponents to global free trade. Their influence on the democratic agenda has yet to fully unfold. If it does, bilateral trade with China might take another blow and the US might prompt other states to follow its lead to regulate and close down their economies against foreign influence.

Categories
International Relations Health

ISN Weekly Theme: Preparing for a Pandemic

Travelling with Swine Flu / Photo: Diego Cupulo, flickr
Travelling with Swine Flu / Photo: Diego Cupulo, flickr

As countries prepare for the expected swine flu surge this fall, the ISN is taking this week to examine how they’re steeling themselves for the possible rise in cases.

In the ISN Special Report, Preparing for a Pandemic, Sara Kuepfer looks at the links between swine flu and globalization, while Shirya Malhotra suggests that visual and spatial analysis could help strengthen public health systems in the fight against the virus.

Also check out:

And as always, we’ll be updating the site with more on the subject throughout the coming days.

Categories
Health

A Kinder, Gentler Army?

Sigmund Freud's sofa / Photo: Konstantin Binder, Wikipedia
Sigmund Freud's sofa / Photo: Konstantin Binder, Wikipedia

For some reason I thought this practice was already in place, but the US Army has announced that it is starting an obligatory “emotional resiliency” program for its troops.

According to the NY Times the program is meant to head off the plethora of mental health issues soldiers bring back with them from their tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The move comes after the military has faced criticism for failing to provide proper care for its troops, which some say has led to an “epidemic of suicides” due to post-traumatic stress disorder and what’s termed ‘Gulf War syndrome.’

The weekly, 90-minute sessions will involve exercises in which participants will examine methods “to defuse or expose common habits of thinking and flawed beliefs that can lead to anger and frustration — for example, the tendency to assume the worst.”

Off topic comment: That’s not just needed for the military.

In an atmosphere in which a person is formed into, for all intents and purposes, a killing machine, this type of program is/was sorely needed. But it does go against the normal military culture; one of bravery, manliness and keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of danger, or worse.

“Psychology has given us this whole language of pathology, so that a soldier in tears after seeing someone killed thinks, ‘Something’s wrong with me; I have post-traumatic stress,’ ” or P.T.S.D., Dr. Seligman said. “The idea here is to give people a new vocabulary, to speak in terms of resilience. Most people who experience trauma don’t end up with P.T.S.D.; many experience post-traumatic growth.”

And perhaps give a new definition to “bravery.”

Categories
Health

‘Socialized Medicine’ in America: Old Habits Die Hard

Health care reform, a painful issue / Photo: Z Peckler/flickr
Health care reform, a painful issue / Photo: Z Peckler/flickr

The health care debate in the US continues to become more heated by the day, revealing new characters with dramatic twists and turns. From the outside it almost plays like a movie (well, maybe not a great movie) where I nearly reach for a soda and a bag of popcorn while watching constituents yelling at their local representative during town halls or US politicians debate about whether the health care reform will create so-called “death panels.”

However, as an American with family stretched across the country I am soon reminded of the sobering reality that this debate cuts much closer to home.

Family members on Medicare or Medicaid? Check. Family members uninsured? Check. Family members with insurance but poor, expensive coverage? Check. Family members struggling or unable to pay health care bills? Check. Family members discriminated by insurance companies due to pre-existing conditions? Check.