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Old-Fashioned Health Care Technologies
Dr. Josh Ruxin is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and Founder of Rwanda Works.
Dr. Ruxin's work focuses on comprehensive approaches to fighting poverty with emphasis on scaling up national health programs and investing in Rwanda’s private sector. He is based in Rwanda where he directs several initiatives including Rwanda Works and the Millennium Village Project.
Question: How is technology improving health care?\r\n
Josh Ruxin: I think the most important technologies that we have are those that we’ve had for decades. One small example of that would be Oral Rehydration Therapy which is a simple solution of sugar, salt and water which can save the lives of severely dehydrated people, people dehydrated by cholera or intestinal worms which has resulted in severe diarrhea.\r\n
I’ve actually seen kids who actually come back from death. They’re literally hours from dying, you give them the simple solution, in the right quantity, of Oral Rehydration Therapy, and they’re up running around playing soccer.\r\n
Why isn’t that being used everywhere in the world? The answer is that the management, the wherewithal and the overall unity of focus on public health does not currently exist in so many countries. Instead, they might be trying more complex solutions, sophisticated antibiotics, and other interventions such as intravenous drips which can’t be administered in all resource-poor settings.\r\n
It’s really a mixed perspective. There’s a lot to be said for new portable EKGs and also electronic medical records. But overall, first we have to figure out: How do we roll out the technologies that we’ve got a lot of practice with which we know are extremely effective? Those are technologies like insecticide-treated bed nets or combination therapy for malaria or anti-retro viral therapy for HIV/AIDS. These are all very basic interventions which have been with us at least a decade, if not decades more than that, and yet they’re not currently being implemented across the board.\r\n
There are actually some new vaccines which have just come to market and are starting to be used in developing countries, including a vaccine for pneumonia, pneumococcal vaccine, which we just piloted in Rwanda. That’s going to save 6,000 lives. It’s just one shot in the arm that kids need periodically, and they’re going to be good. It’s going to end up saving more lives than lots of more sophisticated intervention.\r\n
Recorded on: June 3, 2009.
Rwanda Works Director Josh Ruxin says simple vaccines can save more lives than sophisticated interventions.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.