Some of the poorest parts of the world have particularly contaminated rivers
Rivers across the globe are contaminated with such high levels of pharmaceutical waste that they endanger human health and could cause environmental destruction. A new report reveals a fifth of the rivers examined contained drug levels so high they could be contributing to human antibiotic resistance.
Notice how more frequently we hear scientists tell us that we’re “wholly unprepared” for this peril or for that rising fatality toll? Turning away from such warnings may reduce immediate tension or anxiety, but only weakens the public awareness and distracts us from addressing the great challenges of our time, such as calamitous climate change, pandemics, and the rise of a host of other self-inflicted disasters.
In 1964, the Brazilian military, in a US-designed coup, overthrew a liberal (not more to the left than that) government and proceeded to rule with an iron fist for the next 21 years. In 1979 the military regime passed an amnesty law blocking the prosecution of its members for torture and other crimes. The amnesty still holds. 1 Continue reading →
As I walked down the hospital corridor to visit an ailing friend, I was struck by the number of rooms with closed doors covered in yellow ‘caution – keep out’ tape. These were rooms housing a patient with a deadly and highly contagious hospital-acquired infection, like MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphlococcus Aureous) or C Diff (C Difficile). Both are caused by easily corrected hospital practices that endanger patients, including a lack of hand washing, contaminated instruments, and unsanitary procedures.
What if two thousand U.S. soldiers were losing their lives every week in Afghanistan? Would the peddlers of the electoral politics of trivia, distraction and avoidance take notice? Of course.
Every week, two thousand Americans, or about 100,000 men, women and children a year, die from mostly preventable hospital-borne infections in the United States. The toll may even be higher (Center for Disease Control updates its figures soon).
To put this deadly disaster in perspective, hospital-induced infections kill more Americans than the combined fatalities from motor vehicle collisions, AIDs, fire and homicides combined. Additional millions more survive infections. The pain and costs are enormous.
Reading a recent issue of Public Citizen’s excellent Health Letter titled “Know When Antibiotics Work,” I recalled the recent tragic loss of a healthy history professor who was rushed to a fine urban hospital, with a leading infectious disease specialist by his side. No antibiotics could treat his mysterious “superbug.” He died in 36 hours.