Venezuela: the shocking state of its health service

As someone who had lived the experience of a hospital on my own skin, this shows the inevitable evolution of health car under a communist system:

H/T:  Vlad Tepes

OK, the hospitals I experienced were not quite this dilapidated – but well on the way there.

When my grandmother (1970’s) got breast cancer, it took 8 months for the surgery.  There was no chemo for follow up because there were no chemo drugs.  And the radiation machine in her local hospital was broken – and going to a hospital outside of your district was not permitted.

When her cancer had metastasized into her bones, pain killers where the only treatment option.

The problem was that my grandmother was over 60 – and with the rationing of drugs, people over sixty were the first ones to be denied medication.  You know, like in the UK now.

So, my mother worked hard, bribed everyone she could, used her influence as a very popular teacher with all her students’ parents that she could, and managed to buy some pain meds on the black market which she then brought to my grandma’s doctor to administer to her, to ease the horrible pain.

Promptly, the doctor stole the meds and sold them on the black market…probably to someone else using their best connections to try to relieve pain of their loved one.

Of course, I had my own encounters…

From childhood, I suffered crippling migraine headaches.  The doctors told my mom ‘unofficially’ that that is what it was, but that they were not permitted to diagnose or treat migraines because ‘the officials’ had ruled that ‘migraines are not a medical condition but something that pampered capitalist ladies with not enough to do pretend. to have to get attention’.

And then there was the first time I got appendicitis:  I was admitted to a children’s ward, where there were 54 of us in one room.  No visits on any children’s wards, because children might cry when the parents leave.  We were fed in the middle of the room, in shifts, because only 8 could fit at the table at one time.

Having appendicitis, I was put on a strict diet of tea and toast, so as not to irritate my intestines.  However, there was only 1 type of food served per meal – and the kitchen could not worry about all the special diets.  I was laughed at when I questioned why I was being fed food that the doctors said I was not allowed…

After 3-4 days of strict bedrest (no books or anything), I got ‘walking status’ which meant I qualified for ‘play-room visits.  2 kids at a time were permitted there for 10 minutes per visit, 1 visit per day.

Oh, those were fun times!

Then I got appendicitis the second time.  This time, (grade 5) I went to the emergency room at the children’s hospital.  It was open Monday to Friday, 8 am to 12 noon.  When I did not get in the first day, I got up extra early the next day and got there before they opened.  Still did not make to be seen.

You see, when the doors opened and you got in, you would write down your name in the notebook in the middle of the room in the order in which you arrived.  The nurse would come out, read and call out the next name on the list and cross it off.  That way, first come, first serve – right?

Except that people who wanted their kids to be seen would stand by the door – and when the nurse would come out, they would give her a bribe to let their kid in.  Then, on the way out, they’d cross their name off the list…

My mother did not want to pay a bribe, so, we waited, and waited, and waited.

Just before noon of the third day, I got sick and tired of this.  OK, I may only have been a kid, but I was pretty sure that I would not make it in the next day…  So, I elbowed my way to the door through the throng of adults – which elicited some very loud protests and shoves.  The doctor herself  came out to see what the hubub was all about.  Of course, I did not know she was the doctor – and the head of pediatric surgery…

When she opened the door, I started shouting about the corrupt system – ok, I used smaller words, saying how people were cheating and they were doing nothing to stop it and really sick kids like I would die before they saw us.

Everyone hushed and stared – authorities were not used to getting yelled at – and especially not by a grubby little kid!!!  The only sound to be heard were jaws hitting the ground…

Then the doctor spoke:  “OK, little girl, you think you are so special – you are next!”  And she dragged me in.  The door closed behind me before my mother could make her way through the crowded room to me.

After the examination, the doctor got a serious look on her face and barked – “Her first!”

Not 30 minutes later, I was being operated on, because, apparently, my appendix was beyond burst – it was seriously decomposing and another 2-3 hours without surgery would have seen me dead.

They put me ‘under’ so fast, they did not get the dosage quite right and, trying hard to wake me up afterwards, they knocked 3 of my teeth out.  Apparently it scared the other 5 kids in my 4-bed room.  Yeah, the smaller ones had to double up in beds – that was common practice.

Funny story.  About 6 months later, I had fallen and gotten some rocks and dirt stuck in the palm of my hand.  I cleaned it as best I could, yet, it did get infected because I did not get it all. Still, usually, these things worked their way out, eventually.  Yet, a few weeks later, a thin red line started spreading up my arm, so I knew to go back to the children’s emergency room again.  Having been there before, my parents let me take the bus and go by myself.

Just as I got seated in the waiting room, the very same doctor was walking in to start her shift.  She recognized me right away.  “Oh, our little big-mouthed girl is back – come on in!”  She had a dangerous smile on her face, even though I handed her a package of coffee I had bought with my allowance.  (Coffee was one of the most common bribes, but it was usually ‘good’ coffee while as a kid, I could only get the cheap supermarket brand…)  Or was that an amused smile?

One look at my hand, she took out a scalpel and got started.

OK – I was an ungrateful little big-mouthed girl.  Yes, this doctor had, very literally, saved my life.  But, she resented my bitching and was obviously asserting herself over me.  So, I did the only thing a reasonable person would do…

I did not wince!

I did not gasp!

I gave absolutely no sign of experiencing pain, keeping my face a neutral, slightly smiling mask – even though the cold sweat was running down my back.  Her expectant gaze changing to a look of surprise, and, eventually, respect, was very, very much worth it!!!

Yes, I was an obstinate little child….

Good thing I grew out of it!

Who owns your body?

Many people even today live under the yoke of very direct and brutal slavery.  We have recently heard the horror stories.

But this is not the only way slavery is happening.

No – this time, I will not go on a long rant about how coercive taxation is, in a very real sense, the state making an ownership claim over our bodies, but it hits close.

Different societies are built on different principles – and, depending on these foundational ‘truths’, the governance of the society evolves.  All societies evolve over time.  But, those societies which build their governance on things other than the principles they were founded on soon run into serious trouble;

After all, in order for a society to function in a healthy way, for the citizenry to be able to anticipate, understand and guide themselves by the rules of the society, it is important for every new law, for every rule that is enforced, to be grounded in this foundation.  I’m not sure if I am explaining this clearly, so, if I am making a mess of it, please, let me know and I’ll try to clarify.

What I mean by this is that in a very practical sense, for a new rule to ‘work’ in a society, one must be able to reason to it by starting with the foundational principles.

In other words, if laws are passed which are arbitrary – cannot be arrived at by reasoning from ‘first principles’, sooner or later, the governance will not form a seamless body but the laws and regulations will become a mess, some may even contradict each other and it will be upon the whim of the police and the judiciary as to which rules are enforced when…

Our politicians – in all levels of government – are busy passing laws and regulations.  If every citizen were to memorize every new law and regulation as they are passed, they would have little time to actually be productive…and the society would begin to stagnate.

If, however, each and every law and regulation passed could be reasoned out from ‘first principles’ (the ‘foundational truths’ on which the society is built), then the citizen needs not memorize every new rule and regulation:  these will simply be a natural extension of the foundations upon which the society is built.

One of the core – if not THE core – ‘foundational truths’ on which our society is built is the principle of self-ownership.

So far, so good – yes?

I own my body and you own yours.  You cannot sell your children into slavery or for body organs, because while a parent may be a child’s guardian, the parent does not own their child.  Each and every human being owns her or him self.

So, what are our bodies made up of?

Lots of stuff.

Some of our ‘stuff’ shares common things with other humans, some with all living things – and some of our ‘stuff’ is uniquely our own and defines us as an individual.

Let’s look at some examples of ‘stuff’ that makes us up – but which we share with some others.

Blood, for example.

We can, within certain defined parameters, switch blood from one person to another:  from one who has enough and chooses to share to the ones who need it.

Same with, say, kidneys and corneas and lots of other ‘stuff’.

Our brilliant scientists have, for example, found a way to take a pig’s heart, keep the ‘infrastructure’ but wash away the DNA containing tissues, graft a human being’s own personal stem cells over this pig’s hear infrastructure – and then implant it into that human!!!  Most brilliant, since all the DNA-bearing ‘stuff’ is that owner’s very own DNA, so the body recognizes it as part of itself and the immune system does not try to ‘kill this invader':  something which, when using another human’s heart, had to be fought with anti-rejection drugs that had considerable and unpleasant side effects.

AWESOME!

Right?

And there’s all these new cancer treatments and chronic illness treatments based on gene therapies!  It’s enough to make one feel like we’re living in the science fiction future!

Makes sense that we will expect more and more gene-based therapies for our ills.

But, there is a problem with this.

The problem is that, in their wisdom, the bureaucrats who award patents have agreed with deep-pocketed corporaions to grant them patents on genes.  Both human and non-human…

Please, consider this very, very carefully.

For decades, the MD’s and medical researchers have warned that the greatest obstacle to more gene therapies being developed and used in the practice of medicine are – you guessed it – patents granted on genes.

Oh, it crept in gradually, like all the greatest villains in history.

First it was a human-modified gene in one creature or another which made it more suitable for medical studies – human-altered gene, it was argued, intellectual property rights…

Then it was ‘unraveling’ genes – doing the lab work to identify them and the role they played.  The corporations argued – quite truthfully – that they invested money up front to make this possible.  And they did, that is true.

But we must remember why patents were ‘brought about':  it was a trade off. The ‘inventor/thinker’ would share the information with everyone else about all aspects in return for ‘exclusive rights’ on the item for a period of time that would let them make back their investment plus a modest profit. But, it was argued, one could only patent ‘products’ – not naturally occurring ‘stuff’.

So – how come patents were granted to companies on naturally-occurring ‘stuff’ like genes?

A bit of ignorance and a bit of corruption, I guess…

But, we now find ourselves in a situation where multinational corporations own the patents on certain human genes.

Aside:  this issue is explored very, very well in a most excellent Canadian Netflix show, ‘Orphan Black’.  Not only is the show brilliantly written and generally awesomely executed, it tackles this very question:  if a corporation ‘owns’ a ‘gene and all its derivatives’, and that gene is inside of you, do they ‘own’ you?  Do they have a legal claim on your children?  Your child is, after all, a derivative of your genes….

Please, indulge me in the following speculation.

A corporation owns a specific gene which is, say, introduced into asthma sufferers using a specific virus (as the genetic material carrier).  This engineered DNA (patented by, say, Corporation ‘C’) is successfully integrated into your cells, so that all the cells of your body have replaced the old, ‘faulty asthma-causing gene’ with the newly engineered ‘C’ gene.

Then you have kids.

Your children will have inherited the ‘C’ gene.

Do you have to seek permission to ‘create a derivative of the ‘ C’ gene through reproduction’ before you have said child?

Do you owe the Corporation ‘C’ royalties?

Do they have an ownership claim on your offspring?

As the laws stand, these questions have not been answered very well.

For example, courts have ruled that if a genetically modified pollen accidentally pollinates your non genetically modified crops, you DO owe the pollen’s patent holder royalties.

Really, do think about where this is heading….

After all, if somebody owns your gene – something which is in every cell of your body – do they not have an actual claim of ownership over you?

This is why I am so thrilled that CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) has initiated a lawsuit challenging the patenting of a specific gene-test.  OK – a baby step, but a very, very important one!!!

Let’s keep our eyes on this one!

Judge Jim Gray – Judging The Drug War

Food for thought…I have never, ever, in my life indulged in illegal drugs – not even marijuana.

Why?

Because as illegal substances, there is no way of knowing if they are adulterated with poison….

But, I do think that ‘drug laws’ are an abomination:  they are an admission that we are the slaves of the State – if the State did not own our bodies, it would not have the jurisdiction to govern what we do or do not choose to put into them.

Now – aside from the ‘recreational’ drugs, there is another, to me, more important implication of drug prohibition and the related legislation:  the only people who can legally ‘prescribe’ medication are people whom the government permits to do so.

And these are people educated in government controlled facilities, largely funded by drug manufacturers.

This is a glaring conflict of interest.

I am not saying that every MD out there is in the pockets of Big Pharma.  Far from it.  But, the education they receive is not well-rounded…and there is no other field that competes against the ideas – or, indeed, complements them.

No, I am not saying that homeopathy and such are credible – just that the only things that get research money for proper scientific examination are in a very, very narrow field.

Let me give you an example of what I mean:  the ‘placebo effect’.

Currently, it is regarded as no more than a nuisance:  patients think they are getting medicine and so get better…even in cases of legitimate disease that is not just a figment of the patient’s imagination.  So, studies control for it in order to evaluate the efficacy of drugs.

But, turn this around:  if there is a way to ‘trick’ the body into healing itself using no harsh chemicals – why are we not studying this in the most rigorous scientific manner possible?  A cure with no side effects is nothing to sneeze at…

That is just one tiny little example.

Another one is from my own experience:  I have some rather rare health issues which most likely stem from having spent the first 13 years of my life 7 km downwind from a chemical plant in a socialist worker’s paradise (where the people who regulate the chemical plants – the government – are the same people who own them – the government – and there is no governing body over them to bring them into compliance with even the pitiful regulation they do have on the books….).  So, some informed friends did some digging in the scientific literature and found a precedent for treatment of conditions like mine.

Awesome, right?

Wrong!

I cannot get that treatment, because it is ‘not common’ and, whole a whole slew of MD’s I brought it to believe it would likely make it possible for me to live again a semi-normal life (no longer bed-ridden and all that pain), they will not prescribe it because ‘it is unusual’ and ‘prescribing it might make the OHIP – the government bureaucracy that oversees the MDs – suspicious enough to audit the MD who prescribed it, which would be too much of a bother….much better not to help me return to being a productive member of our society…

So – when we talk about drug prohibition, do keep in mind that we are not just prohibiting narcotics and halucinogens – we are prohibiting people from accessing legitimate medication needed for the treatment of real-life medical problems!

Because, like it or not, if I were to go out and seek health-restoring medications for myself, I could end up in jail for life on an ‘illegal drug’ conviction.

Not all drugs are ‘recreational’….but they are all equally illegal!

And that does not even scratch the surface of incentivizing police forces to focus on drug busts and the accompanying property forfeiture instead on preventing property and violent crime…

 

 

 

Mugged by the State: When Regulators and Prosecutors Bully Citizens (William Hurwitz, M.D.)

The following video explores just how damaging it can be for ‘regulators’ to ‘regulate’ things they have no personal stake in – like the pain and suffering of another human being.

Pain is a uniquely individual experience – no two people experience the same injury or ‘pain’ in exactly the same way.  The way our society deals with individuals who are in the process of experiencing pain is insulting and actively counter-productive.

OK – I may be off on a rant again – if you’d like, skip to the video.

But pain is something I know quite a bit about, having been on the receiving end of more and more intense pain than most of the people I know.  And medical personnel have uniquely failed to comprehend any of it…

For example:  when you tell medical personnel (mp) that you are experiencing pain, they will typically ask you:  “On a scale from 1 to 10 (or, 1-5 – or something similar), how bad is the pain?”

Excuse me, but a person who had never experienced more than a hangnail or a papercut will not be using the same scale as someone who had suffered sufficient level of pain so as to loose consciousness from the pain alone.  So, that question is irrelevant at best, downright harmful in reality.

Yet that is the starting point for our medical ‘science’….

While I am ranting – I have two children.  As such, I have been through labour twice.  The first time, I had an epidural; the second time there was a danger of an emergency C-section, so I got what is called a ‘saddle-block‘. ( Both are a form of pain relief – one through delivering an analgesic to the spine, so that everything below is numbed, the other blocks the neural transmissions of pain below the solar plexus so that an emergency surgery can be performed without being felt – or so it had been explained to me.  Different methods, different medications – one is a continuous dose, the other is one-time-lasts-for-few-hours type thing.)

In both cases, I was able to tell the mp exactly what stage I was in, and was not believed because, according to them, I had no way to feel things through the procedure,.  Both times I was right – of course, or I would not be writing about it here.  Especially the second delivery was surprising to the mps:  I had only just entered labour when the baby went into distress and I got wheeled into the operating room where they were already scrubbing for the emergency C-section.  Well, as the panic took over my body, it went into ‘hyper mode’ and even before they secured the gurney, I was ready to deliver.  They did not believe me.  I insisted they check.  The baby came….and it was faster than had they done the C-section!

They stood around shaking their heads, wondering how I could possibly have felt it?  But, I did…..  (Mind you, the process was so fast, I dislocated a hip in the process, but that is a small price to pay for preventing oxygen deprivation to my baby!)

Why am I ranting on about this?

Simply to demonstrate that pain is not perceived the same way by different people.  Even things as well known and understood such as local anaesthesia will be perceived by some people differently than most.

Even the same ‘thing’ – like childbirth – can differ:  not just from woman to woman, but from delivery to delivery.  My sister-in-law has 4 children – and says that the pain she experienced during her 4th delivery was much stronger and very, very different from the pain she experienced with her first 3 children.  So, even if mps ask about a pain scale where 0 is no pain and 5 is childbirth pain – guess what, there is no common top to the scale!

So, if even well understood meds like local anaesthesia are not accurately known by our medical people, how about a new and quickly evolving field, such as chronic pain management?!?!?

And what happens when regulators try to get their proverbial two cents in?

What happens when politics tries to inject itself into the cutting edge of medical research?

Here is one such story:

 

 

Female Genital Mutilation is now permitted in Canda

This must not continue!!!

From the Ottawa Citizen:

‘A doctor in Britain faces up to 14 years in prison under that country’s Female Mutilation Act for allegedly performing an operation that is condoned in Canada by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists as part of a “culturally competent” approach to medical care.’

Dr. Margaret Burnett, an ob/gyn in Winnipeg, says that when women who have been the victim of infibulation have babies, their labia often have to be cut open for the baby to come out. After, she says, requests for reinfibulation are relatively common. That’s because it is considered normal for women who come from countries where FGM is widely done, mostly Africa and the Middle East.

“It’s my impression that we do get many requests for this and almost all of them come from the husbands,” Burnett says. “They want their wives closed again.”

In Canada, the ob/gyn society’s new guidelines, issued last November, suggest doctors explain the dangers of reinfibulation to patients, and that requests for the procedure “should be declined.”

That’s a softening from a policy statement issued 20 months earlier, which stipulated that requests for the operation “must be declined.”

Burnett, chair of the society’s social sexual committee that helped draw up the guidelines, says the approach was softened to be more culturally accepting. The change was made after speaking to immigrant women who have been through FGM.

Burnett says she herself has performed reinfibulations…

Dr. Beverley Chalmers, adjunct professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Ottawa, believes that caregivers in Canada should not be permitted to perform any form of genital mutilation that is not clinically necessary.

“To hide behind ‘cultural accommodation’ to permit the practice of FGM, or any other practice that is unquestionably harmful, is a craven distortion of political correctness … (and) is simply moral cowardice,” she says.

Kowser Omer-Hashi, a Somali-Canadian who wrote a book with Chalmers about Somali women’s birthing experiences in Canada, is shocked that Canadian society appears to tacitly allow reinfibulations. She remembers being mutilated — her clitoris cut and infibulated — as a child.

“I will never forget when I first had to pee,” she says. “The pain is indescribable.” ‘

This is outrageous!

We must not permit this horrible torture to be accepted – and performed by doctors – in Canada and other countries which would like to consider themselves ‘civilized’!!!

I am so angry, my hands are shaking…

Please, let your federal and provincial legislators know that you want genital mutilation to become illegal, with hefty jail sentences for both those who perform it and the parents who commission it.

Also, please let the Canadian Society of Gynecologists and Obstetricians – the organization which has now made female genital mutilation legal for doctors to perform in Canada – please, let them know exactly what you think about this change in their policy:

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
780 Echo Drive, Ottawa, ON K1S 5R7

Tel: 613-730-4192
or 1-800-561-2416
Fax: 613-730-4314
Email: helpdesk@sogc.com

sogc.org 
SOGCorg

Office Hours

Mon-Fri: 8:30am-4:30pm (EST)

While you are at it, why not let Dr. Burnett, the MD who pushed for this change and has admitted to having performed reinfibulations (that is sewing the vagina shut, to be ripped open during intercourse), why not let the doctor herself know your opinions about the practice in general and her culpability in perpetuating sexual torture in particular:

Health Sciences Center, 810 Sherbrook St.
R3A 1R8 Winnipeg – West Alexander
Mb
Phone:
(204) 787-1961
E-mail:
Send message

Who is Dr. Burnett?

A simple google search (which is how I got the above information) also reveals this:

Margaret Ann Burnett, MD, BA (HONS), MA, CCFP, FRCSC
Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba
Associate Head, Academic, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Manitoba
Director of Post Graduate Medical Education, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Manitoba
Section Head, Gynecology, Women’s Hospital, Winnipeg
So, this sounds like Dr. Burnett is quite influential…and if she promotes accommodating this barbaric practice, we are in big, big trouble!!!
The right to bodily integrity is paramount.  Monstrous practices like female genital mutilation must not be perpetuated on our citizens.  Tell your lawmakers to outlaw this cruel and horrible and dangerous (remember, it increases not only maternal mortality but also infant mortality) practice.

American Academy of Pediatrics attacks raw milk

Surprise, surprise:  yet another enemy of real food attacks the traditional diet…

What is interesting in this article (and makes it worth reading) is this bit:

In 2009, former editor–in–chief of the New England Journal of Medicine Marcia Angell admitted that the “evidence-based” studies published in her former publication and most other “scientific” journals are totally unreliable:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

In her bombshell article, Drug Companies and Doctors: A Story of Corruption, she documents how doctors and scientists are bought and paid for by Big Pharma.

“Clinical trials are also biased through designs for research that are chosen to yield favorable results for sponsors,” she writes.

Yet more evidence pouring in that ‘peer-review’ is more of a ‘pal-review’…

For a deeply insightful commentary on the state of science today, see CodeSlinger’s comment here.

Psychedelic Science: Magic Mushrooms

Yet another example of how ideologically based prohibition is not only unreasonably and unjustifiably limiting people’s choices, but hampering medical research from which all of us could benefit.

 

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