- Silence Is the Enemy
Inspired by reporting by Nick Kristof, a blog coalition is taking on gang rape as an instrument of war. From Aetiology:
"I always think someone is following me and wants to rape me. It is better to die." --Darfuri refugee
Sometimes there comes a public health issue that's so big, so overwhelming, so heinous, that you just don't know where to begin discussing it. Nevertheless, the conversation should, and must, happen just the same. Silence may be easier, but speaking out is the only way to demystify the taboos and bring attention to what's going on for those who can't bring attention to it themselves. And maybe, just maybe, bring about some change.
Kristof himself writes:
When I’ve written about sexual violence in Darfur, Congo and, most recently, Liberia, I always get frustrated emails from readers: But what can I do?"
It’s a question I never have a very good answer to, other than to support the various groups active in the field, such as the International Rescue Committee, Doctors Without Borders, Panzi and Heal Africa hospitals, and so on.
Now there’s a push on the Web to galvanize attention to the issue and allocate resources to it. It’s called "Silence Is the Enemy," because the discomfort of talking about sexual violence has been one of the obstacles that has allowed the violence to continue. Attention won’t automatically solve the problems, but it raises the costs to those engaging in mass rape or supporting those who do...
Sheril Kirshenbaum at the Intersection Discovery blog links to Facebook, Doctors Without Borders and the blogs who are donating their June revenue to them, and other useful links and blog partners who have written on this, including herself.
In the waning days of April, as federal officials were declaring a public health emergency and the world seemed gripped by swine flu panic, two rival supercomputer teams made projections about the epidemic that were surprisingly similar — and surprisingly reassuring. By the end of May, they said, there would be only 2,000 to 2,500 cases in the United States.
May’s over. They were a bit off.
On May 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that there were "upwards of 100,000" cases in the country, even though only 7,415 had been confirmed at that point.
Oops. Well, if you live in the US, it's flu season in May, in all 50 states and DC.Speaking of the panic that wasn't, risk communicator Jody Lanard:
- David Brown in the WaPo:
Influenza experts are acknowledging that they were almost completely surprised by the way the current swine flu outbreak unfolded, so much so it is forcing the world to rethink what a pandemic is and what pandemic preparedness means.
Virtually every assumption made since planning for a pandemic began in earnest after the deadly "bird flu" outbreak of 2004 in Southeast Asia has been contradicted by the six-week history of swine-origin influenza A (H1N1).
if you've seen one pandemic, you've seen one pandemic. They're all different and this one's not over. Pandemic planning needs to be for for whatever comes, because something always comes.
Republicans have no shortage of ideas about how to tackle the issue of health reform. What they don’t have is agreement — between the Senate and the House or between conservatives and moderates.
Now some in the party are nervous that the array of options might add up to nothing, leaving Republicans without a cohesive strategy as President Barack Obama edges closer to delivering health care reform.
This observation is more important than Senators like Judd Gregg realizing they have to say something - anything - on the topic.
- First Read:
Howard Dean said a public health insurance option is more important than bipartisanship, and that Democrats should pass health-care legislation that includes the option with 51 votes if necessary.
Dean added that Democrats should have "no intention" of working with Republicans if it's not the strongest possible legislation that could be passed with a simple majority.
"If Republicans want to shill for insurance companies, then we should do it with 51 votes," Dean said during a news conference at the first day of the liberal America's Future Now! conference here.
Dean, though, also praised what he called President Obama's "realist" approach to trying to pass health care reform.
- On autism spectrum disorder:
Despite common off-label use, the antidepressant citalopram (Celexa) has no effect on repetitive behavior in young patients with autism spectrum disorders, researchers said.
There was no significant difference in positive response rates between children taking citalopram or those taking placebo (32.9% versus 34.2%), Bryan H. King, M.D., of the University of Washington, and colleagues reported in the June issue of Archives of Psychiatry.
"There is a robust literature that supports the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for obsessive-compulsive disorder, so we assumed that we'd see a very positive response," Dr. King said.
Instead, he said, the results further illustrate that there is "a fairly significant placebo response rate in kids with autism who are treated with medication."
Not just in ASD, that placebo effect is responsible for a whole lot of passionate argument about what works, hence the need for placebo controlled double blind studies in evaluating treatment for anything. And while I realize it's difficult to write anything about ASD, Lyme or vaccines (among others) without being called an idiot, a corporatist and a whole lot worse, it's good to get studies done and put some fact behind the opinion.
- Speaking of opinions, consideration begins today in the Senate on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
According to the its sponsors, the measure would aim to give the FDA the legal authority it needs to:
- Prevent tobacco advertising that targets children
- Prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors
- Help smokers overcome their addiction
- Identify and reduce the toxic constituents of tobacco products and tobacco smoke for those who continue to be exposed to them
- Regulate claims about reduced risk tobacco products
- Prevent the tobacco industry from misleading the public about the dangers of smoking.
For more on public health and smoking, see Smoking, Public Health and Tobacco Taxes and remember it is Federal policy to purposefully raise tobacco taxes.
- Speaking of cigarettes, sometimes marketing outstrips science:
The reaction of medical authorities and antismoking groups [to electronic cigarettes] has ranged from calls for testing to skepticism to outright hostility. Opponents say the safety claims are more rumor than anything else, since the components of e-cigarettes have never been tested for safety.
But Dr. Besser did a spectacular job of framing the initial alarming announcement, and what is most noticeable is that it did not produce any panic.
Some early and brief "over-reactions" occurred, and were poorly tolerated by officials.
These reactions, and the initial brief massive public attention were called "hysteria" and "panic" by the media.
But there was no actual panic -- just the public going through adjustment reactions, which have been disrespected by most officials and the media, as usual.