By Michael Greger, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Michael Greger is the director of public health and animal agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States, and author of ‘Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching.’ The views expressed are his own.
In 1969, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. William Stewart declared “The war against diseases has been won.” We had penicillin. We had conquered polio and smallpox. Even Nobel laureates were seduced into the heady optimism. To write about infectious disease, one Nobel-winning virologist wrote in a 1962 textbook, “is almost to write of something that has passed into history.” “[T]he most likely forecast about the future of infectious disease,” he pronounced, “is that it will be very dull.” Recent headlines belie the fact that it has become anything but – from the mysterious SARS-like virus discovered in London, to Hantavirus in Yosemite and plague in Colorado to West Nile virus in Texas and the new Heartland virus in Missouri.
We've seen an unprecedented rise in infectious diseases in recent decades, 75 percent of which are “zoonotic,” meaning they come from animals. About 300 new animal-to-human diseases have emerged in the last 60 years.
This summer, the International Livestock Research Institute released a report estimating that zoonotic diseases cause 2.5 billion cases of human illness each year and 2.7 million human deaths worldwide. Most of these illnesses and deaths are caused by diseases spread from farm animals.
By Abdul El-Sayed & Aasim I. Padela, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Abdul El-Sayed is an epidemiologist at Columbia University and a fellow at Demos. Aasim I. Padela is assistant professor and director of the Initiative on Islam and Medicine at the University of Chicago and a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. The views expressed are their own.
More than a decade after September 11, 2001 and we are only now really beginning to comprehend the health fallout from the terrorist attacks. The effects suffered by first-responders and those who lived in downtown New York City have become increasingly clear, and have rightly been the subject of much attention. Indeed, only yesterday it was announced that 58 cancers had been added to the list of illnesses covered in the wake of 9/11. Yet, the health fallout of 9/11 was not limited to those who were near the World Trade Center or the Pentagon that day.
Health researchers have been compiling a list of health problems that they believe are directly and indirectly connected to 9/11. There are, of course, the more obvious problems – physicians and epidemiologists have, for example, noted unusually high rates of uncommon cancers among 9/11 survivors and rescue personnel, while the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder have unsurprisingly been high since the tragedy, even among those who did not directly experience the trauma of those events.
By Geoff Adams-Spink, Special to CNN
Geoff Adams-Spink was born in 1962 with multiple impairments caused by the drug, thalidomide. He was a BBC journalist for 22 years, and latterly the Age and Disability Correspondent. The views expressed are his own.
So, after a mere half-century, German pharmaceutical firm Gruenenthal has decided to apologize for the devastating effects its drug, thalidomide, had on thousands of babies and their families around the world, myself included. Is this a reason to celebrate? Is it even a reason for cautious optimism, or is it simply a piece of news management designed to salvage what is left of its corporate reputation?
Gruenenthal's chief executive, Harald Stock, made the apology Friday as he inaugurated a memorial to those affected in Stolberg, Germany, where the company is based.
I was aware of Herr Stock long before his name was flashed around newsrooms all over the world when he made his momentous announcement.
Together with others, I've been campaigning for justice for the global thalidomide community for the past decade.
By Julia Bredtmann, Carsten J. Crede and Sebastian Otten
Editor’s note: Julia Bredtmann, Carsten Crede and Sebastian Otten are researchers in economics at the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany. The views expressed are solely those of the authors.
The world’s biggest sporting event, this year involving athletes from more than 200 nations, officially opens in London today. But while much of the focus will be on the feats of individuals over the next 17 days, there’s always another competition going on too – the one between countries for the most Olympic medals.
In the lead up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China dedicated more than $4.5 billion to supporting sports in an effort to supplant the United States as the world’s sporting superpower. Similarly, as the Economist noted back in 2008, the British government has ramped up spending by investing in and supporting its elite athletes. But is Olympic glory all about the money?
By Michel Sidibé, Special to CNN
Michel Sidibé is executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). He is attending the 19th International AIDS Conference taking place in Washington D.C. this week. The views expressed are his own.
Getting to zero – zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths – was unimaginable just a decade ago. Today, it has moved from commitment to action – from President Obama to Ebube Sylvia Taylor, born free of HIV despite her mother being infected with AIDS – to make AIDS part of history. The challenge before us is not how, but how quickly. We owe it to the more than 34 million people living with HIV.
The rate of new HIV infections has fallen in most parts of the world – more than 56 countries have stabilized or reduced HIV infections by more than 25 percent. The results are most dramatic in sub-Saharan Africa, where the epidemic has had its most devastating impact. In Africa, AIDS-related deaths have reduced by more than 31 percent as a record number of people are on antiretroviral therapy, more than 6 million people.
By Fareed Zakaria
Many liberals believe that the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — is unpopular only because most Americans don’t understand it. There is some truth to this: Studies show that the core provisions of the bill are more popular than the bill itself. But there’s also a reason, rooted in reality, why many Americans worry about Obamacare — its cost.
Most Americans have health care. What they worry about is the cost of insuring 20 million to 30 million more people. Unless the meteoric rise of health-care costs is slowed, a big expansion of coverage might well remain unpopular, no matter how it is explained, Zakaria writes in the Washington Post.
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Obama's health care law is constitutional, but that won't end the debate over ObamaCare and what to do about the health care system.
For many, the debate has shifted from the courtroom to the campaign trail. Presidential historian and author Douglas Brinkley talked to CNN about how the Supreme Court decision will play into the 2012 U.S. election and how history will regard the vote. FULL POST
Editor's note: "Global Lessons: The GPS Road Map for Saving Health Care" re-airs on CNN TV on Sunday at 8 p.m., 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. ET; on CNN International on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET and Sunday at 6 a.m. ET. We'll take you around the world to show you how other nations manage their health care and what lessons the U.S. can learn.
As the U.S. Supreme Court released its rulings on the constitutionality of Obamacare, check out a round-up of ideas for how to save health care from a previous "Global Lessons" report and Fareed Zakaria's takes from the past few months in the lead-up to this court decision.
From Fareed Zakaria:
America's health care system is broken. Our healthy life expectancy, the standard measurement, ranks only 29th in the world – behind Slovenia. Our infant mortality rate ranks 30th – more than twice that of Sweden and Japan. And for this sub-par care, we pay more than any other nation in the world. Almost one out of every five dollars spent in America is spent on health care.
Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate is Minister of State for Health in Nigeria. Dr. Christopher Elias is president of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Pate and Elias.
By Drs. Muhammad Ali Pate and Christopher Elias
The two of us are roughly the same age but we grew up in very different parts of the world. One of us had the luxury of never giving polio a second thought. The other saw his best friend paralyzed by the disease and, some years later, killed by a car as he struggled to cross the street.
It’s a tragic story of the inequities that separate rich countries like the United States from developing countries such as Nigeria. But it's also a hopeful story as progress on polio eradication is made.
In less than a quarter century, the number of children paralyzed by polio has dropped spectacularly — from 350,000 cases annually to just 650 last year. In 1988, there were 125 countries where polio was endemic. Today, there are just three - Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. FULL POST
More than 40 percent of the actions people perform every day - that you perform every day - are not actually decisions you make, but they are the product of habits. We like to think of habits as traits that can't be changed, but it turns out that habits are malleable and knowing how to change them has profound implications, not just at the personal level, but also for companies and governments.
On GPS this Sunday - France's elections, India's missile test, the drug war in Mexico, and more.
I host an all-star GPS panel exploring the ramifications of this Sunday's French elections. His guests compare the first round to a U.S. primary, where politicians play to far ends of the spectrum. Anne-Marie Slaughter, Edward Luce, Bret Stephens and Emmanuel Saint-Martin weigh in.
Also: Hitting a BRIC wall. Investor Ruchir Sharma explains why Brazil, Russia, India, and China look tired. Instead, the future of growth lies elsewhere.
And then we have a moving interview with Newseek's Andrew Sullivan. He opens up about how being HIV positive delayed his getting a Green Card for 18 years. He's got his now, but he's still fighting to change a law that bars a gay Green-Card-seeker from qualifying via marriage to an American.
What in the World explores a controversial line of thinking: Despite 50,000 drug-related killings in 6 years, why Mexico may finally be winning the war on the cartels.
All that and more, on GPS this Sunday, 10a and 1p Eastern. Don't miss it!
Editor’s Note: Joan Henneberry is a principal at Health Management Associates, an independent national research and consulting firm specializing in complex health care program and policy issue. Previously, she served as the Planning Director for Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange in 2011.
By Joan Henneberry - Special to CNN
For many waiting for the Supreme Court to decide on the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the wait may be worse than the outcome. Uncertainty has paralyzed some state officials and engendered a sense of desperation in others.
But delaying key policy and program decisions puts states at risk of not meeting the ACA’s 2014 implementation deadlines and, worse, of missing out on options available to them right now.
The ACA offers avenues for improving health care even in the absence of the individual mandate by bringing efficiencies into the healthcare system, bending the cost curve, and improving overall customer experience.
Here are some things states can do to reform health care even if the mandate is struck down: FULL POST