Tag Archives: Africa

Baby Formula Battle Redux


In the mid-1970’s, a boycott was launched to protest the promotion of baby formula in the Third World by the Nestlé Company of Switzerland. I remember it well, because I researched it while in college.

At the crux of the boycott was that due to poor water quality, and the high cost of the infant formula which was in powder form and had to be mixed with the water, babies were not getting sufficient nutrition from the formula because of contaminated water and because their mothers only used less than the recommended amount of formula to make it last longer.

The worldwide boycott was promoted by a documentary that explained how Nestlé promoted the formula in countries mainly in Africa, and how the contaminated water supply, plus the watered down formula led to various diseases in infants.

The boycott has, according to Wikipedia, been cancelled and renewed because of business practices of Nestlé and other manufacturers.

The New York Times reported yesterday, that earlier this spring, in Geneva, a resolution regarding breast-feeding was expected to pass quickly and easily, was opposed by the American delegation to the World Health Assembly, a UN-affiliated organization.

According to the Times, American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

The American effort failed, so in keeping with the current regime’s bullying tactics against friends and allies and trading partners, the Times reported that they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions.

One of the countries they threatened was Ecuador. Ecuador had planned to introduce the measure. The fascist regime told the Ecuadoreans that if they refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

Research has proven that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes, the Times went on to say. A 2016 Lancet study found that universal breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 deaths a year around the world, and yield $300 billion in savings from reduced health care costs, and improved economic outcomes for those reared on breast milk.

But owing to its slavish devotion to corporate America and the pursuit of profit at any cost, the fascist regime in Washington has embraced the interests of the infant formula manufacturers.

Thus, the battle to protect the health and safety of infants and children in the developing world has been renewed. However, this time with the threat of economic blackmail, countries that dare to introduce this resolution or enact its recommendations to promote breast-feeding over that of breast milk substitutes, may not be able to defend themselves, and represents a threat not only to the health and welfare of children in developing nations, but to the health and stability of their home countries as well.

Advocates for health scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but a dozen countries, mostly in Africa and Latin America, backed off citing fears of US retaliation.

The Russians stepped in to introduce the measure, but the Americans did not threaten them. Of course not, the Orangutan takes his orders from Moscow.

The Russian delegate said, “We’re not trying to be a hero here, but we feel that it is wrong when a big country tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue that is really important for the rest of the world.”

Oh, so I guess we can forget the over forty years the Soviet Union pushed around the smaller nations in Eastern Europe, as well as their allies in the third world? What would you call the invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia? Simple misunderstandings?

But getting back to the issue, it is sickening that the US, being more concerned with the financial health of some multinational formula manufacturers, would prevent mothers from getting information about how beneficial breast-feeding is for their babies, which would go along way to moving them out of poverty, and improve the overall health of people in those countries. Then maybe they wouldn’t need to rush towards our southern border to escape violence, drugs, hunger, poverty and despair. Profits before people, that’s the real American motto and values.

 

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Five and a half years

Yesterday marked five and a half years since I began the blog.

To date, it has been viewed in over 100+ countries and had over 33,600 views, as shown in the image here:

The areas in grey represent those countries that have not viewed my blog, and as you can see they are mostly in Africa and part of the Mideast, especially Iran (but you would expect that).

Of course, there are exceptions, such as Greenland and those islands to the east of Greenland. Oh, and there is one other island that has not had any views: Cuba. And one nation that has been in the news of late: North Korea.

Still, I am very happy and grateful for all the views, wherever they come from, but some have surprised even me. Take for instance, the Palestinian territories, China, Vietnam, and those in the northeast part of Africa. Even Saudi Arabia (do they know I am Jewish?)

Thank you all for the past five and a half years, and once again, I’d like to invite you to reach out to me whenever you want to discuss an article, or have something to add. I want to get to know my readers better.

S**thole Countries and Medical Travel

The comment yesterday that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue said, is not only revolting, disgusting, sick and racist. It is also a threat to the national security of the United States, and to the economic health of the nation, and of the medical travel industry.

A host on the Fox News network defended what was said Thursday by saying that this is how forgotten men and women talk. If by “forgotten men and women” he means the men and women who lost their jobs because their wealthy bosses sent their jobs overseas or they were lost due to automation, then they only have to blame themselves for voting against their economic interests, and not the immigrants they blame for losing their jobs.

As to what this means for medical travel, think carefully about who travels from the US to other countries like India, Thailand, Singapore, Costa Rica, Mexico, and others, and not to mention those countries he did mention as “s**tholes”, especially in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East (a region he did not mention yesterday, but has singled out for a Muslim ban).

And consider also what this means for inbound medical travel from those continents and countries that American hospitals might want to attract. Would you, as a citizen of those countries, travel to the US if that was what the leader of the US thought about you and your country? I don’t think so.

The notion that we should take in people from Norway (not that there is anything wrong with Norwegians, in fact, I am watching a series on early Norwegian history, Vikings on the cable channel History) is proof that he is a racist and a white supremacist.

Comments on social media have even gone so far as to indicate that Norwegians would never consider moving to the US because they have a better standard of living and have free education, health care, and rank higher on all social metrics.

So, those of you in the medical travel industry should be aware that some of the resistance to medical travel from America, and from the very people who would benefit greatly from it, are the forgotten men and women the Fox host mentioned. If so, it will be a tough sell to get them over there.

‘Turkishmaninacanstan’ Strikes Back

Readers of this blog know that from time to time, I have had to criticize those in the workers’ comp industry for their short-sightedness, narrow-mindedness, excessive American Exceptionalism, “Know-nothingism”,  xenophobia and subtle racism.

But when a well-respected online journal re-posts an article by the chief anti-medical travel opponent in the workers’ comp world, it is high time that the medical travel industry speak up and defend itself.

As a tireless advocate for medical travel in workers’ comp, I am leading the charge that you, my friends around the world must do for yourselves.

You will notice the title of this post. This is what the individual in question calls those countries that provide medical travel services. Also, please note that by using this canard as my title, I am in no way insulting Turkey, or any other nation that markets their medical care to the world.

There is fair criticism of Turkey and many other countries in the medical travel industry, but those criticisms are meant to improve the services and to correct the mistakes of the past, and not to pass judgement on them.

But when someone uses a term such as ‘Turkishmaninacanstan’, it conjures up the worse images of third world poverty and backwardness in all aspects of life of the nations so broadly brushed with that epithet.

The individual who coined that despicable name is a self-styled, right-wing American conservative who lives on the gulf coast of the state of Florida, a region where many individuals like him retire to after their careers have declined to play golf.

While this individual may not be one of those just yet, the fact that he dismisses new ideas, that he insults the millions of men and women around the world who are trying to offer real low cost medical care at equal or better quality, that he insults the very nations who could use those resources they are spending to bring medical travelers to their countries as a way to improve their balance of trade and economic power in the global economy, when they could be used to raise the living standards of their poorest citizens, is something that can no longer go unanswered.

So, I ask all of you, doctors, nurses, travel agents, medical tourism promoters and facilitators who are legitimately trying to provide better medical care at lower cost to all of the world’s citizens, to speak up and tell this individual and those like him, that your countries are not ‘Turkishmaninacanstans’, and that you are developing world-class medical facilities that outshine those in his own country, and mine.

Basically, he is calling you con artists and frauds, and that is something that only you can stop.

 

 

 

 

How Medical Tourism Hospitals are Developed

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Today’s second post is courtesy of Maria Todd, CEO of Mercury Healthcare International.

While her article is about hospital development in Africa, specifically the work she is doing in Nigeria, it is instructive on how hospital development in other regions of the world are laying the groundwork for the expansion of medical tourism.

In the article, she explains why Africa is targeted for financing and why now, how to size the facility and the market, what is different about hospital development and inpatient utlization in Africa, where the money comes from, the investment risk and capital funding in Africa, and some of the pitfalls that can happen when a company like hers is called in to help develop a hospital, and there is not much cash to be had, or as she puts it:

Apples and little green monkeys fall from trees – not cash

Being an expert in medical tourism and healthcare, Maria has made a name for herself, which is why she takes on such a daunting challenge as hospital development in Africa. Perhaps one day, Africa will be known as a shining example of medical tourism, and she and her company will have made it possible.

From Pariah to Player: South Africa’s Journey towards Becoming a Medical Tourism Destination

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Six months ago, I was contacted by Greer van Zyl, a Health Communications Consultant specializing in public health, advocacy, and media relations, who is currently a Community of Practice Manager at the SBCC Centre of Excellence, Wits School of Public Health in Johannesburg, South Africa. She had found a copy of my White Paper on medical tourism and workers’ compensation, and wanted my permission to quote me in an article she was writing on the subject of medical tourism in South Africa.

Naturally, I was excited by the prospect of being in print in South Africa, as my White Paper had just recently been published online by the Medical Tourism Association (it has been removed over a copyright issue, but that’s another story).

Yesterday, Greer was kind enough to forward to me the link to the published article. She told me that due to word restraints, the original text she wrote was shortened, but it still conveys the meaning of what my original text was about. The article appears in the Health Professions Council of South Africa’s (HPCSA) The Bulletin. The article can be found on pages 28-29.

The article, entitled, Medical Tourism – SA’s Undiscovered Little Gem, introduces medical tourism as a relatively new concept in South Africa, and is regarded as an untapped sector for positioning the country as a destination of choice for medical procedures.

One area Greer discusses with regard to medical tourism is the high cost of medical care in the US and the impact that has on the workers’ compensation market here, as she quotes yours truly.

Medical tourists from America are likely to flock abroad as medical costs in the US drive patients to seek cheaper healthcare, particularly for workers’ compensation for injuries such as knee replacements, hip replacements and spinal fusions. These procedures cost considerably less in India, Thailand and Singapore. In Singapore, for example, the cost of knee replacement surgery, the airfare, and hospital and hotel accommodation can be six times lower than that in the US. A spinal fusion in Singapore costs up to 12 times less than in the US; in India, it costs 20 times less. Richard Krasner, a risk management consultant in Florida, US, says that this globalization of healthcare will require the removal of barriers to provide the best care possible at the lowest cost. “Healthcare cost savings through medical tourism can be just as beneficial in workers’ compensation.”

To compare with Greer’s original text, I am including the following:

Increasing medical costs in the US is likely to see a growth spurt as patients seek cheaper healthcare abroad. One untapped area is workers’ compensation for injuries such as knee replacement, hip replacement and spinal fusion. These cost considerably less in countries such as India, Thailand and Singapore, where a knee replacement, including airfare, hospital and hotel, can be six times lower than that of the US retail cost. A spinal fusion in Singapore is up to 12 times less than in the US, while in India the procedure costs 20 times less.

“Medical tourism is likely to experience explosive growth over the next three to five years due to changes in the US healthcare industry brought about by reform. This globalization of healthcare will require the removal of barriers to provide the best care possible at the lowest cost. Healthcare cost savings through medical tourism can be just as beneficial in workers’ compensation,” says Richard Krasner, a risk management consultant practicing in Florida.

To emphasize the importance of the development of medical tourism in South Africa, and it’s positioning as a medical tourism destination, one of the speakers at the 5th World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress I attended last October in Hollywood, Florida, was Dr. Gwendoline Ramokgopa, Deputy Minister of Health, in the National Department of Health of South Africa. Dr. Ramokgopa represented the highest level government official to attend the conference, and signals South Africa’s willingness to be a player in the emerging medical tourism industry.

Despite all the economic, political and social problems racking South Africa today, the fact that the country’s leaders and healthcare advocates are focusing on medical tourism is a good sign that South Africa can be a major factor in the growth of the industry, not only worldwide, but on the African continent itself. As more countries to South Africa’s north get into the market, and as South Africa is recognized as a “rising star”, the outlook for medical tourism in Africa is good.

My sincere thanks to Greer for her very good article.