The world of drugs

The World is full of drugs, some of which are good and some of which are bad. What they all have in common is that they create addiction (a craving for more).

One of the first drugs you get exposed to in your life is the casomorphine in breast milk. This is a very useful drug that helps stimulate the mother-infant bond and helps secure that the infant gets all the nutrients it needs. It also exists in cow’s milk, and thus in all the dairy products we consume. It gets very concentrated in cheese, which helps explain why cheese is one of my favorite foods.

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Those spooky patents on Genes

The recent Cumbre Andina de Naciones held in Tarija brought controversy about the particular conditions that Bolivia put forward to negotiate conditions of a free trade agreement with the European Union. One of the arguments held by the Bolivian government to distrust the agreement was that special clauses where required to protect genetic patrimony and ancient knowledge concerning the use of medicinal plants.

This subject is highly controversial, and since the government is so close to Anti-globalisation movements and several NGOs, we couldn’t expect any different posture. But one thing is political posture and another one is reality.

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Vaccination Failure in La Paz

“100 years from now we will know that the biggest crime against humanity was vaccines.” Guylaine Lanctot, MD

As previously stated in the newsletter Vaccination Controversy: What is Fact and What is Myth?, vaccination requirements in the U.S. are much more extensive than in Bolivia, so there is a much higher likelihood of adverse side effects in the former, and indeed many horror stories be found on the Internet (1).

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C-sections for Convenience?

Giving birth the natural way (vaginally) is extremely painful and often inconvenient, which is why some women decide on a planned Cesarean section instead. According to the latest national health survey in Bolivia (2003), 47.1% of mothers in the richest quintile have C-sections, while this only happens to 4.0% of mothers in the poorest quintile. Such a large difference is obviously not due to more pregnancy complications among the rich. C-section rates vary greatly from doctor to doctor, but the rate medically justified is usually around 10-15%.

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Vaccination Controversy: What is Fact and What is Myth?

“100 years from now we will know that the biggest crime against humanity was vaccines.” Guylaine Lanctot, MD

In Bolivia, vaccination rates depend strongly on the education level of the mother. More educated mothers are more likely to have their children vaccinated than less educated mothers (1).

In United States the relationship is the opposite. Highly educated mothers are less likely to have their children vaccinated (2).

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Cost-free Policies to Improve Public Health

It does not necessarily have to be expensive to improve the health of the population. It could be free – or even revenue generating!

 Here are two ideas:

         1)Slap a substantial tax on distinctly health-damaging products such as cigarettes:

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today. With almost 5 million tobacco-related deaths per year, no other consumer product is as dangerous, or kills as many people, as tobacco (1). In a poor country like Bolivia, a cigarette tax may actually work as a deterrent to smoking.

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