Daily Rounds: The Cost Of Fat; Bad Medicine; Toilet MD; How Cuba Tackled AIDS

Even A Small Slowdown In Obesity’s Rise WOuld Save Money (NPR) — “Slowing the rising rates of obesity in this country by just 1 percent a year over the next two decades would slice the costs of health care by $85 billion. Keep obesity rates where they are now…and the savings would hit nearly $550 billion over the same 20 years.”

How Doctors And Patients Do Harm (The New York Times) — “If the title alone doesn’t clue you in, the reader quickly discovers that Dr. Brawley is determined to make everyone as uncomfortable as possible about the flaws, inconsistencies and inequities that are rampant in American medical care. The book, written with Paul Goldberg, a journalist, begins with a frightening tale of a poor woman who for so long went untreated for breast cancer that her whole breast literally falls off at home. She arrives at the hospital carrying it in a plastic bag, clinging to the naïve hope that it might be reattached. Dr. Brawley treated the woman at Grady Hospital in Atlanta, which happens to be the largest hospital in the United States, as well as the safety-net hospital for poor and uninsured patients in the area. Dr. Brawley says it makes him furious when he hears “politicians and pundits” assert that American health care is the best in the world. The statement may be true for the rich, he says, but “it’s not a great place to be sick if you are poor and uninsured and want consistent, basic care.”

High-Tech Toilet Takes Urine Sample, Provides Health Report (Huffington Post) — “Upon request, the high-tech toilet gives you a full health report based on a urine sample it collects from the basin. Described by Yankodesign.com, the GP is a “pathology-enabled toilet system that analyzes your urine and gives you a detailed diagnostic report on it.” The sample is collected by a small nozzle that retracts inside the system. According to DesignBuzz.com, the nozzle also monitors urine level and flow, emerging once a health test is selected from the integrated screen. The toilet is meant to eliminate the hassle and costs of doctor’s office visits and laboratory testing, especially for those who must have such work-ups done frequently.”

A Regime’s Tight Grip On AIDS (The New York Times) — “Whatever debate may linger about the government’s harsh early tactics — until 1993, everyone who tested positive for H.I.V. was forced into quarantine — there is no question that they succeeded. Cuba now has one of the world’s smallest epidemics, a mere 14,038 cases. Its infection rate is 0.1 percent, on par with Finland, Singapore and Kazakhstan. That is one-sixth the rate of the United States, one-twentieth of nearby Haiti.The population of Cuba is only slightly larger than that of New York City. In the three decades of the global AIDS epidemic, 78,763 New Yorkers have died of AIDS. Only 2,364 Cubans have. Other elements have contributed to Cuba’s success: It has free universal basic health care; it has stunningly high rates of H.I.V. testing; it saturates its population with free condoms, concentrating on high-risk groups like prostitutes; it gives its teenagers graphic safe-sex education; it rigorously traces the sexual contacts of each person who tests positive.

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