Archive for October 2007
As BBC reports, the World Toilet Summit 2007, which was scheduled to be inaugurated by former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, is being convened in New Delhi from 31-Oct until 3-Nov. The summit has been organized by NGO Sulabh International Social Service Organisation and is supported by various Indian ministries along with UN Habitat New Delhi. Fourty countries are reported to be participating in this meeting which in recent years took place in Russia, Northern Ireland, and China . For reference, UNICEF provides a mid-term assessment regarding the Millennium Development Goal drinking water and sanitation target.
The “a Calorie Counter” site came up with this catchy and interesting analysis of the worst fast food joints as determined by the worst trans fat offenders (hat tip to Big Picture). As the post states – “The absolute worst ingredient your food could possibly contain is trans fat. Maybe you’ve heard of it? ” The top offenders, ranked by the numbers of times they appeared in the top 88, were:
- Jack in the Box: 24 times
- Burger King: 16 times
- White Castle: 16 times
- A&W: 10 times
- Dairy Queen: 8 times
For the exact listing of specific meals and fast food chains check out “a Calorie Counter” here.
Currently, everyone knows that the US is the leading fast food market in the world as you can see in the below graphic from WorldMapper (via Creative Class). The scary thing about this picture is that it is apparently sourced from a McDonald’s campaign absurdly and insultingly called “One World – One Taste“, which begs the question of whether some fast food chains are engaging in a type of food genocide. The fact that the US is the largest market, only means that so called emerging markets represent a largely untapped source of growth for various chains. The growth will be explosive, India alone is witnessing 40% growth in this area (via Siliconeer, search for “fast food” on this page).
We did a previous post on obesity in developing countries that you can see for more sources along with the WHO page on this issue… For additional fast food facts you can check out the Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, here are some select ones:
- Two-thirds of all cardiovascular deaths occur in developing countries.
- Approximately 20,000 new food and beverage products are introduced into the market each year.
- In some parts of Africa, overweight children outnumber malnourished children three to one.
- Of America’s 15 top-rated hospitals, 6 have fast food franchises in the lobby.
Poor air quality after California fires safer than indoor air from biomass-burning in low-income countries
A Berkeley school of public health prof recently posted to the SPH listserv a great NASA link to high altitude photos of the southern California fires. You can click through several days worth of pics and see what conditions were like prior to the fires as well as tell when the winds kicked up as they carried dust plumes in areas unaffected by fire (for instance Oct 22nd).
The point the prof made was that as bad as the air is there, the particulate matter density of 200-300 micrograms per cubic meter (10x greater than average figures for US cities) is still less than the levels typically seen in biomass-burning homes in the developing world.
More efficient, hotter burning charcoal stoves are one immediate solution to indoor particulate matter (i.e. soot) in low-income homes. In Uganda for instance, Kampala residents use a huge amount of charcoal (my own estimate…) every day. The city’s air, not to mention the air in individual homes, has a great deal of suspended soot – you can easily smell it across the city during the peak cooking hours. Venture Strategies for Health and Development in Berkeley, together with an innovative Kampala for-profit stove manufacturer, are marketing the hotter burning stoves through targeted subsidies financed in part with carbon credits.
Perhaps one silver lining to the devastation in southern California will be greater awareness of the importance of high air quality.
Which single intervention would do the most to improve health of those living on less than $1 a day?
The public library open access journal Medicine asked this question to leading experts across a wide variety of domains. There certainly is no consensus answer:
“PLoS Medicine is participating in a global theme issue on poverty and human development on October 22, 2007 (http://www.councilscienceeditors.org/globalthemeissue.cfm). Over 200 scientific and medical journals are taking part. For our theme issue, we asked a wide variety of commentators worldwide—including clinicians, medical researchers, health reporters, policy makers, health activists, and development experts—to name the single intervention that they think would improve the health of those living in poverty. We also asked four individuals living in poor, rural agricultural communities in the Santillana district, province of Huanta, Ayacucho, Peru to give us their response to the question, “What do you think would do the most to improve your health and the health of your family?”
Check out some of the answers here…
Its great to see a generally conservative business magazine discussing positive, successful global health efforts in Africa. Forbes has 3 very recent pieces that are worth skimming. Again, this is yet another indication of increasing convergence of the social and business sectors that we had previously profiled (trends in global health coverage by the business press).
The Rwanda Cure: Success Stories
Forbes Oct 29.2007, link
Western do-gooders are pouring billions of dollars into ontrolling malaria, AIDS and other killers ravaging the world’s poorest continent. Now comes the hard part…Some of what sub-Saharan Africa needs is new technology, like a malaria vaccine. But what’s needed most, particularly in Africa, is better logistics.
“The hardest truth for people to come to terms with is that the practical solutions are already out there, but they are not being applied…Donors always want to do something new. The simple things aren’t so glamorous.” Full story
In Pictures: Seven Ways To Fix Health Care In Africa
Follow this link
HealthStore to expand to Rwanda, link
How do you get basic care to the remotest villages in Africa? One clever idea is to borrow tactics from retail chains like McDonald’s and Subway–operate an easy-to-replicate, owner-operated franchise system focusing on health care.With a budget of under $1 million a year, HealthStore Foundation subsidizes nurses in rural areas to run 65 for-profit retail clinics in Kenya that provide basic treatments for malaria, respiratory infections and worms.
Nurses pay about $300 to buy a clinic, and sell medicines for a modest profit at a retail price of $1. The 65 clinics run under the name CFW Shops and treated 400,000 patients last year. Many are run by retired nurses lured back to work by the prospect of owning their own business.
Full story here.