20 April 2012

"What's killing us"

Alanna Shaikh's new book is a nice quick fun read, packed full of things I didn't know on almost every page.

Some (on reflection, almost a little too extensive?) highlights:
Fifty-two percent of the women in Gabon are overweight, and so are 50 percent of the women in Zimbabwe and 53 percent of the women in Botswana. And obesity isn’t limited to Africa. Forty percent of the women in Thailand are overweight, as are 49 percent of the women in Bhutan (location 120).  
TB is our biggest global pandemic, though it doesn’t always make headlines. One out of every three people on this planet is infected with TB bacteria. (location 258) 
Each year, nearly 8 million children under the age of 5 die from disease. Six conditions cause 90 percent of those deaths: neonatal (early infant) illnesses, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles, and HIV/AIDS. Most of the deaths could be prevented, and it wouldn’t be all that expensive to do so (location 376) 
And, surprisingly, better access to drugs isn’t the most important issue. What’s really needed are more health care providers with better skills. About 75 percent of child deaths are in Africa and Southeast Asia (location 379) 
We’ve already seen dramatic decreases in child mortality. From 1960 to 1990, child mortality in developing regions was reduced by half. Continuing to bring down the number of child deaths is largely a case of continuing to do the stuff that works and targeting the areas of child mortality we haven’t made progress in yet (location 380) 
70 percent of the deaths in children under 5 years old could be prevented or treated with simple, low-cost interventions (location 395) 
The real cause of maternal mortality is gender discrimination. In the U.S., for example, maternal mortality didn’t improve as the country grew richer. It improved in the 1920s, when women finally gained the right to vote. You can see the same pattern in other countries; as women gain political rights and greater decision-making power, maternal mortality decreases (location 454) 
Maternal mortality doesn’t improve along with other health issues; it improves only when women begin to be treated equally (location 458) 
Based on current projections, antibiotics will stop working in 10 years. Completely. (location 495)

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