Health

Science and mince pies don’t make a good Christmas cocktail | David Mitchell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 16/12/2018 - 9:00pm in

The blindingly obvious findings of a study of festive weight gain concealed a rather depressing fact

What I keep telling myself is that scientific research is not retrospectively rendered pointless just because the outcome is boring and predictable. It’s not like a TV drama. The human urge to understand the workings of the universe cannot necessarily be satisfied entertainingly. The apparently obvious has to be tested in experiment if it is to be thoroughly understood.

So I shouldn’t blame the researchers from the universities of Birmingham and Loughborough for the fact that their widely reported study into festive weight-gain, published last week in the British Medical Journal, produced such depressingly guessable results. I should blame those who reported it as if it was interesting and illuminating.

By nature, humans aren't so much wise as clever. We use cleverness to obviate wisdom

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Eight Addiction Myths

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 14/12/2018 - 8:21am in

Even modern revisionist harm-reduction addiction specialist miss the forest for the trees.

20 Year Old Copies Of National Geographic Supplied For Patients Waiting To Opt Out Of My Health

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/12/2018 - 8:22am in

magazine

Millions of Australians still waiting to opt out of the My Health scheme have been supplied with digital copies of 20 year old National Geographics and Gourmet Traveller Magazines to keep them occupied.

“I got online about forty minutes ago and I’m pretty sure that some guy who got online twenty minutes after me managed to opt out first, but never mind because I’ve become engrossed with this issue of Time magazine from 1993,” said citizen Mike Schubert. “I hope that President Clinton can do something about the situation in Bosnia or that could turn ugly.”

“Damn it, someone’s ripped out the entire article about new layout of St Andrews from this germ filled 2003 issue of Golf Digest,” said disappointed queuer Rita Busby. “At least the kids are happy playing with that wooden and plastic toy where you move the beads along a loopy wire.”

Choices include a five year old copy of the Good Weekend magazine from the Saturday Herald with all the crosswords done, a pamphlet in seven different community languages about macular degeneration, and Wheels Magazine’s special luxury car issue from 1998.

“The My Health opt out has been a resounding success,” said Department of Health official James Scrub. “We now have a full and complete list of every conspiracy nut and paranoid in the nation, so everyone who has opted out can expect to receive a full set of the pink and yellow pills in the mail any day now.”

Peter Green
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Merchants of Death

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/12/2018 - 1:10am in

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Health, Politics

The opioid crisis is a story of institutional failure and corruption: among local officials, in federal agencies, the US Congress, and the White House.

Book Review: Global Health Governance in International Society by Jeremy Youde

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 07/12/2018 - 1:38am in

In Global Health Governance in International Society, Jeremy Youde reflects on the challenges facing global health governance and the future of international society. While this is a theoretically engaging and empirically informed study, Ioannis Papagaryfallou questions the solidarist approach of the English School of international theory within the text. 

Global Health Governance in International Society. Jeremy Youde. Oxford University Press. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

Global Health has emerged as a new interdisciplinary field of inquiry. As an indication of the pronounced role of the international in contemporary society and politics, Global Health promises to bring together the best that Health and International Relations (IR) have to offer. Jeremy Youde is far from a newcomer to the field: he has been studying the challenges of global health for more than a decade, and he is the current Chair of the Global Health Section of the International Studies Association (ISA). His engagement with global health governance has produced distinguished results, which in his latest book he uses to make some more general observations about the future of international society.

Despite the fact that Global Health Governance in International Society is theoretically engaging and empirically informed, Youde’s identification with the solidarist wing of the English School of international theory accounts for a rather one-sided approach to an exciting field. Taking the arguments of English School pluralists regarding the hegemonic aspirations of Western powers in the aftermath of the Cold War more seriously would have enabled the author to depict with greater clarity the tensions, dilemmas and contradictions within existing forms of global health governance, and to delineate an alternative future. Such dilemmas include the choice between limiting global health governance to the containment of epidemics or addressing more deep-seated health problems globally. More fundamentally, they concern the prospects of fighting disease in a world characterised by widening inequalities between and within nations.

Global Health Governance in International Society uses as its point of departure international society’s failure to respond effectively to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This failure did not obfuscate, but rather made more evident the need to address health on a global scale. The first two chapters of the book provide an overview of the English School of international theory, and the way in which it conceptualises international society and its institutions. The third chapter provides an illuminating account of the evolution of global health governance from the nineteenth century onwards. This account is supplemented by the presentation of today’s global health actors and a critical evaluation of their relationships and interactions. Chapter Five shows where the lion’s share of today’s development assistance for health goes, and how the importance of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, is downplayed in favour of confronting epidemics. The last two chapters on Ebola and China’s insider/outsider status in international society touch on some of the thorniest questions confronting global health governance today.

Image Credit: (Pixabay CC0)

The 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa is justifiably described by most students of global health governance as a turning point in the development of effective mechanisms and institutions. Youde echoes these criticisms, and discusses how NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders carried a disproportionate weight in the fight against an epidemic that threatened both particular states and the international community as such. The calls for the reform of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the aftermath of the Ebola crisis are debated in Chapter Six, which argues that mainstream critiques do not go far enough in addressing the problem of the relationship between state and non-state actors in global health governance.

China’s ambivalence towards existing forms of global health governance is analysed in the last chapter of the book, which explores how the country’s attachment to sovereignty has historically influenced its health diplomacy and more general attitude towards multilateral international institutions. The book’s proposal to engage China in global health governance and encourage its wholehearted incorporation into international society is commendable, but it is somewhat at odds with the writer’s reservations towards sovereignty and ideological support for a number of ideas that may be universally applicable but are not necessarily universally shared.

Like other English School solidarists, Youde understands the end of the Cold War as a positive historical development which opens the way for the emergence of a global humanitarian conscience materialised in attempts to eradicate poverty, fight disease and even protect human rights through military means. Where Youde differs from other English School theorists is in assuming the existence of a primary institution of moral obligation and responsibility within international society, and in presenting global health governance as a secondary institution which realises this moral obligation.

Although reminiscent of the Marxist base/superstructure model, the book’s delineation of the relationship between primary and secondary institutions in international society is theoretically problematic for a number of reasons. First of all, English School thinkers have justifiably limited the application of the term ‘institution’ to phenomena that possess a certain materiality. Although profound disagreements exist between pluralists and solidarists regarding which are the key institutions of international society, purely ideational or emotional phenomena have not so far been described as institutions and with good reason. Independent of whether the balance of power, the global market or environmental stewardship are seen as institutions of international society, an institution must be somehow independent of the observer and not constitute an expression of the observer’s mind-set or moral sensibilities.

More importantly, the book misses the point that, from an English School perspective, secondary institutions – such as the United Nations, the European Union and the World Bank – do not constitute an extension or a reflection of the primary institutions of international society. Primary and secondary institutions lead different lives, perform different functions and come into existence in different ways and for different reasons. Having said that, Youde certainly has a point in arguing that the English School should engage more seriously with secondary institutions in international society: as the book goes on to explain, such institutions are not mere instrumentalities and can play a significant role in shaping the identities and influencing the behaviour of actors. Emphasising the importance of those institutions is important to the book’s overall argument that the progress of global health governance in recent decades means that we now live in a more enlightened world where states frequently display other-regarding behaviour.

The analysis of the multiform challenges facing global health governance in the fourth chapter is well-informed, but the facts do not corroborate the book’s underlying philosophy of history. With regard to the WHO, Youde emphasises the privileged position it occupies in global health governance today, but he also mentions a variety of problems regarding its routes of funding and relationship with non-state actors. The World Bank’s economic dominance and neoliberal ideological commitments come justifiably under scrutiny because of its limited interest in the human rights of the poor. The role of prominent individuals, such as Bono and Jeffrey Sachs, is correctly problematised, and the logic of the Public-Private Partnerships dissected and critically analysed. Despite accepting the heterogeneous nature of global health governance, the book tends to see its failures as transitory and in principle correctible.

Engaging more systematically with the arguments of English School pluralists, such as James Mayall and Robert Jackson, would have enabled a soberer evaluation of the future of international society and its institutions. As Edward Keene has shown in Beyond the Anarchical Society, by pursuing the contradictory goals of toleration and the promotion of ‘civilisation’ within the same social and geographical space, modern international society gives rise to dilemmas that are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Global health governance should start from the recognition of those dilemmas and not from the elusive search for a common good which could obscure different understandings of health and ways to promote it in a diverse world.

Ioannis Papagaryfallou has completed successfully his PhD at the LSE Department of International Relations, and he is currently working as a research assistant at the research centre LSE Health. He is a member of the English School and Global Health Studies Sections of the International Studies Association (ISA).

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


The Flea

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/12/2018 - 9:08am in

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Health

To make experts appear dumb, block their ability to use tacit knowledge. Recent studies, however, provide evidence of how expertise can make an impact.

The Three Underlying Components of Effective Psychotherapy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/12/2018 - 6:08am in

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Health, psychiatry

Effective therapies everywhere are surprisingly similar. The specific techniques look different on the surface but, at root, they draw upon the same fundamental principles.

An algorithm a day will keep the doctor at bay | David Mitchell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 11/11/2018 - 9:00pm in

Government plans to exploit personal data to target individuals is a shabby way to spend NHS money

“In the UK, we are spending £97bn of public money on treating disease and only £8bn preventing it,” the health secretary Matt Hancock said last week. “You don’t have to be an economist to see those numbers don’t stack up.” But Matt Hancock actually is an economist, so how does he know? I suppose he might have canvassed the views of some non-economists, but I’m sceptical about how rigorous that survey can have been.

“Hi Chris, Linda…” (good to get a gender balance) “… have you got a second?” Hancock may have asked his aides. “Of course, minister.” “You did classics and history respectively, right?” “That’s right.” (Chris is doing all the talking – come on, Linda!) “Great, so we’re spending £97bn on treating disease and only £8bn preventing it. Can you see that those numbers don’t stack up?” “Oh yes, absolutely,” says Chris. “Yes indeed, minister,” adds Linda.

A computer can instruct people on how not to get ill ... the fact that there’ll hardly be any hospitals will be an added incentive!

Related: People must take responsibility for own health, says Matt Hancock

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Fall Wellness Trends

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 22/10/2018 - 6:00pm in

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Health


Finally, a way to strengthen your nasal cavity in a natural, holistic way.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 21/10/2018 - 3:52am in

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diet, Health

Respect the ingredients!

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