Southeast Asia

With all of the issues surrounding health within the southeast Asian region, we are here to bring attention to these problems. Through our posts we hope to raise awareness and bring people together in helping to amend the many life threatening issues taking place there.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advertisement for Global Health in Taiwan

This advertisement I thought was a great way to show the Taiwanese that the Taiwan IHA - Partners for Global Health and the WHO are available for their citizens to access medical resources. The Taiwan IHA has over 20,000 medical health professionals and and over 500 medical care organizations to "carry out short, mid and long-term international medical and healthcare activities and projects in response to both emergency and non-emergency situations." It is hoped that the Taiwan international health org can be a model for other countries hoping to create a system in their nations as well. 

-Rupal Joshi-

Friday, November 26, 2010

Childhood Smoking a Problem in Indonesia

There are many children in Indonesia who are smoking at very young ages, usually 12 and under. This is a huge health hazard for them because the lungs are weaker in childhood. It is much more likely that these kids will have lung cancer by the time they're 18. Children are taught in school the dangers of smoking, but many do not listen to the warnings

This is a huge problem in Indonesia. There are some children who are smoking as early as a few years old. Like this 2 year old boy who smokes multiple packs a day.

What makes matters worse is that many parents do not have a problem with it. The country's government can do to help fight this problem of childhood smoking is to create a legal age limit on cigarette purchases. In America the legal age for cigarettes is 18. In Indonesia there is no age limit. Not only are these children smoking at young ages, they are capable of buying their own cigarettes to do so. Also, parents need to be taught that it is not okay to let their children smoke if they value their lives and well being.

Pollution Impacting Health

I came across this video, which originally aired on CNN to raise awareness about the pollution problem in Asia. Although it is two years old, the speaker in the video points out that every year, the cloud of dust and pollution hovering above much of the continent reduces the amount of sunlight reaching the ground.

Pollution can cause a lot of health risks for those living amongst it, including headaches, skin rashes, dizziness, asthma, kidney/liver/nervous system damage, birth defects and miscarriages. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a full run-down of risks associated with pollution here.

The problem is only getting worse, and unless more awareness is raised about it, it is likely it will continue to worsen and cause more and more health problems for people in the region.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sex Workers Latin America Demanding Healthcare and Recognition

To most of us, selling your body for sex, is dirty, shameful and most of all unfortunate. But for some women, they believe that it is their right. Elena Reynaga, General Secretary of the Latin American and Caribbean Sex Workers Network (RedTraSex) and former sex worker says, "It is crucial to recognise sex workers officially"– She does not see why this, the oldest profession, should not be treated like any other. Everybody has to work for a living, she says. Some women, brought up in poverty, have nothing else to offer. 'this body is mine – why do I have to ask the permission of society to do what I want to do with it? It is the only thing that is mine. If I want to make money from that, it is my right'."

Elena believes that giving sex workers condoms, and sex education about HIV and AIDS is not helping. Recognition is key, she thinks. Elena and The Latin American and Caribbean Sex Workers Network want healthcare, education, and protection of the law. 

Finally learning how to read and write, Elena says that education can bring a path out away from sex working once and for all, they just need legislation to get it. 
Elena speaking at the International Aids Confrence

-----Rupal Joshi

Monday, November 15, 2010

Addressing Poverty in TB stricken countries: Thailand

     At a recent Tuberculosis and and poverty sub working group meeting recently held in India, the action taken in Thailand among those who are poor, is under the "spotlight". Thailand is one of the 22 high TB-burden countries. After a number of studies and statistics collected by the National TB Program in Thailand along with the World Health Organization it has become evident that poor people in Thailand have a higher risk of Tuberculosis.
     Thailand is however making strides to protect its lower class from TB. There are five major "schemes" to help those struck by poverty in Thailand and it is of especial use to the Thai who do not have health insurance to benefit from these "schemes." The schemes are listed below as given in the Asian Tribune:
     '1. The Thai social welfare programme is available in all public hospitals. This is funded by the government of Thailand to provide treatment and meet transportation costs of the poor patients, including those with active TB disease.
 2. In 2007, the government of Thailand initiated the Community Health Fund (CHF) which is managed by the National Health Security Office (NHSO). There are about 7,848 Local Administrative Organizations (LAO) covering the entire country. Each LAO has the CHF to support health activities in the community and controls local health resources. TB activities supported by the CHF includes financial incentives for the DOT observers and living monthly allowance of Thai Baht (THB) 500 for each of those patients who are unable to earn their living, or meet their transportation costs, or need the money for food. Few LAO also support the TB activities because the local TB programme team members aren’t familiar with the mechanism to request financial resources.

3. The 'Thailand Relief Foundation for TB Patients' provides small funding for projects mainly supporting poor TB patients. For example this Foundation has supported nutrition programmes and programmes aimed to provide transportation costs to TB patients. This is not funded by the government but donations are the source of funding for this foundation.

4. The country budget at TB Bureau in Thailand procures the anti-TB drugs (both first-line and second-line drugs) for uninsured TB patients nationwide. In this year 2010, 1,500 people received first-line anti-TB drugs under this programme, and the cost of THB 3,570,000 was met by the TB Bureau in Thailand. In the same year, 220 people received second-line anti-TB drugs and the cost of which THB 7,637,300 was also met by TB Bureau of Thailand. In 2011, it is projected that 2000 insured people will be seeking first-line anti-TB drugs in Thailand and the cost of THB 4,760,486 will be met by the TB Bureau. Also in 2011, it is estimated that 155 uninsured people will seek second-line anti-TB drugs and the cost of THB 5,347,000 will be met by the TB Bureau of Thailand.

5. The Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) round-8 grant is also dedicated to mobilize political commitment for the government of Thailand's Community Health Fund (CHF) to secure TB funding at local level. This grant takes care of 2 or more food coupons for new TB patients (THB 200 or about 6-7 USD) during intensive and continuation phases of DOTS. It is also used to provide 16 food coupons to MDR-TB patients, and to provide the travel costs for children receiving isoniazid (INH) prophylaxis therapy (IPT) for preventing latent TB into becoming active TB disease. This grant is used to provide for emergency houses and travel costs for jail inmates as required when they are released before the treatment completion. This grant is used for capacity building activities of people living with HIV (PLHIV) for promoting access to TB care.'

The steps the Thai are taking to protect their citizens, especially the poor is really great to me. Developing nations all over the world should see this example and know that if a country like Thailand can afford to take a stance against TB, that it is possible for everyone to.

Patient with AIDS and TB

-----Rupal Joshi

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Health Issues are a Concern for Travelers, Too

With all the focus on health issues in Southeast Asia, it made me wonder if there were risks for travelers heading to the area. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides information to potential travelers regarding necessary vaccines, health risks, and the steps to take to prevent any health issues during their time abroad. (The site can be found here.)

There are a number of vaccines that are either required or recommended before entering the region. First, all routine vaccines must be up-to-date. Second, there are many recommended vaccines as well to prevent common diseases of the area, or serious ones that have had recent outbreaks. These include vaccines for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Polio (which had an outbreak in Indonesia in 2005), Rabies, and Japanese Encephalitis.

There are also a number of potential risks travelers are warned about, such as diseases carried by insects, like Ciguatera, Dengue fever, Filariasis, and Japanese Encephalitis.

The most common ailment travelers have to worry about, however, is what is known as travelers' diarrhea. This affects approximately 30-50 percent of travelers to the area. The cause? Untreated food and water. There are many preventative measures that can be taken to avoid this, such as avoiding swimming in fresh water as well as consuming tap water, fountain drinks, ice cubes, dairy products, and food purchased from street vendors.

The last thing travelers should be aware of is any health changes or symptoms that may appear following their departure from the region. Some health problems that may be acquired in Southeast Asia may not surface right away.

The Demand for Blood is All Over the World

Every year Penn State and Michigan State have a competitive blood drive to see who can donate the most blood from within the two campuses. This year is the 17th annual blood drive and it goes from November 1-November 18. The current score for this year’s blood drive is PSU – 823 and MSU – 987. Penn State has taken the win the past four years and there is still hope that we can pull through and win this year. It is a friendly competition but it adds an extra push to get the students to come out and donate blood.

After speaking with a Red Cross worker at the blood drive I came to realize that the United States is not so different than other countries in the health department. The most obvious reason for the blood drive is to donate blood for the many people in the United States who are in need of blood for several different reasons. The Red Cross worker explained to me that they do the blood drive in November because during the holidays is when the demand for blood is at its highest, yet the donators are sparse. I found this interesting because the demand for blood is just as high in the United States as it is in many other countries that may be less developed than the U.S.

The United States is not all that different from some other countries. Every country around the world is in need of blood donations for many different reasons and the United States is no exception to that. There is not one country in the whole world that is perfect without facing different issues, such as health issues, economic issues, etc. The issues that countries face may be worse in certain places but there is no country that is perfect.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Global Health Around Campus

   As Americans, I think we can agree it is important that all humans have the same opportunities for health care that we do. As students, we can sometimes feel powerless in this issue. Luckily, there are programs, such as GlobeMed, that provide the kind of link we need to bring real help and awareness to people around the world.
   After coming across GlobeMed being advertised around campus here at Penn State, I decided to do a little research into the organization (their main website is here). The approach GlobeMed has taken is similar to recent political campaigns in the sense that it's grass roots in nature. The whole plan behind GlobeMed is to get people, like us students eager to do our part while lacking direction, involved in providing health care to people in underdeveloped countries and even parts of the U.S.
   How it works is each Chapter is assigned a different "partner" that they are personally responsible for alleviating some of the medical woes left from illnesses and disease that has struck the area. There are currently 33 Chapters throughout the United States at various universities including Northwestern (where the idea turned into an international reality), Princeton, UCLA, and right here at Penn State. Currently, Penn State is partnered with an organization in Chiapas, Mexico called EAPSEC which is a Spanish acronym for "Team for the Support of Community Health and Education." In places like Chiapas, a majority of it's citizens are suffering due to extreme poverty as well as political manipulation and health care issues. Without organizations like EAPSEC, the government and the area's economical state do not allow the people to reach out for help in creating a fair and equal opportunity for what we see as the bare necessities.
   I found this video on YouTube telling the story of GlobeMed from it's start until now. I think it is really well put together and is good food for thought.

--Kristina van Alen

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Indonesia Can't Catch a Break

A country can have all the money in the world and still be in poverty. There are so many circumstances that can influence a country's well being, especially its region's climate. Indonesia lies in the heart of The Ring of Fire in Southeast Asia, which is plagued by bad weather. We all remember the massive 9.0 tsunami that struck Indonesia in 2004. Well, Indonesia's unfortunate location has lead to more destruction for the nation. In the final week of October 2010, Indonesia was the victim of an earthquake, a tsunami, and a volcanic eruption within 48 hours.

How can a nation expect to prosper and give it's people a healthy lifestyle when its constantly being hammared by ferocious weather and natural disasters? Fortunately, in times of great disasters human beings are able to come together and help their fellow man. Despite borders and cultural differences, help can be given to those whom we have never met. Many countries and organizations are donating money to aid those who need relief. So if anyone is willing to help prove this aspect of human generosity, then donations to help aid the relief of Indonesia's recent disaster victims can be made at any American Red Cross.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The World's Health is Capitalistic

There was once a James Cagney film in which a Russian citizen makes a comparison between Capitalism and Socialism. "In capitalism, each person is allowed to have as many cars as he wants, regardless of how many cars others have. In socialism, no man is allowed to have two cars until every single man has at least one." The comparison here is stating that in a capitalistic world, the rich prosper and poor suffer in a "free for all" society.

The world's health supply is much the same.

The more developed countries, such as the United States and Western Europe, have a much more beneficial life style when it comes to health. These are richer countries, so when they need it, healthcare, food, medical supplies, and clean water are available to them, while the the poorer parts of the world, such as Africa and the Middle East, are not as fortunate. So basically the richer parts of the world get to be healthy and the poorer parts do not.

While help is givin to the poor parts of the world by the richer parts, by aid groups such as the World Health Organization (WHO), there is only so much that can be done. Is there enough medicine, food, and clean water to share with the world? A country that is not economically stable cannot take care of its people.

This is the base principle for health control (or lack there of) in the developing parts of the world.
But by raising awareness perhaps this will change and the poor will receive aid from the rich, rather than just turn away. If a developing nation is has a healthy population, then it can grow in other aspects as well, and one day become a developed nation, thus making this a more developed and safer world for all.

Troy O'Grady