Summaries—lbirch141

1. Free Heroin To Battle Addiction

It seems counterintuitive that heroin addicts in Vancouver are receiving heroin to battle their addiction. A safe zone called Insite provides addicts with clean syringes, antiseptic wipes and other instruments, with heroin included.

Allen Schauffler, Pacific Northwest Correspondent for Al Jazeera says, “It’s a program that’s grown out of a couple earlier research projects into the effectiveness of methadone and suboxone–heroin alternatives —in treating heroin addicts. And the people that are now getting free heroin prescribed by a doctor, two or three times a day as needed, are people who were in those two research studies…”

Simply giving addicts the drug will reduce the harm they cause themselves and society. Giving them the drug makes is less likely that addicts will end up dead in an alley with a needle in their arm, or reduces the risk of robbery or theft in order for them to buy more of the drug.

But Schauffler also says, “It is a form of blackmail. What it says to these people is, ‘Yep, you are heroin addicts. A certain number of you, the most severely addicted are heroin addicts, you’ll always be heroin addicts, there is no hope of you getting off heroin, therefore let’s provide you with heroin so you are the least dangerous drug addict you can possibly be. It’s a very odd, very odd moral line to walk.”

Not everyone believes this is the best plan to solve addiction. Jim O’Rourke, the executive director at the British Columbia-based Vision Quest Recovery Society, says that the city is killing addicts with kindness. “We might as well put a bullet in their head,” O’Rourke told him. “We’re killing them. We just doing it in a much nicer way.”

2. End-Of-Life Care

It seems counterintuitive that we spend more money on people that have very little chance of survival. One-fourth of Medicare spending occurs in the final year of life. This care is often futile. It doesn’t always prolong lives, and it doesn’t always reflect what patients want. Families need to make the hard decision of an outcome that cannot be reversed.

When a journalist’s mother was suddenly put into a coma, he needed to make that decision along with his father and sister. He needed to decide if they would take his mother off the ventilator, or spend the money to keep his mother alive, even is there was little chance at survival.

The writers thinking was that he wasted resources for the extra two days his mother was in the ICU. He also thought that it most add up to millions of dollars of thousands of other families spent the same time, or more, deciding what to do.

With this thinking, he asked Elliott S. Fisher, a professor of medicine at Dartmouth and a leader of the Dartmouth Atlas, if he had wasted money and resources to keep his mother alive. Fishers response was, “No. You never need to rush the decision-making. It should always be about making the right decision for the patient and the family. We have plenty of money in the U.S. health-care system to make sure that we’re supporting families in coming to a decision that they can all feel good about. I feel very strongly about that.”

With the situation he had been in, we have the think of the real families that need to make this decision everyday. We should not rush this hard decision, even if that means we spend the extra money or resources.

3. The Polio Vaccine Boycott

It seems counterintuitive that the Nigerian people boycotted a vaccine that was meant to  eradicating polio. This plan was made in 1996 when Nelson Mandela launched the “Kick Polio Out of Africa” campaign, which aimed to vaccinate 50 million children in 1996 alone.

Nigeria, which accounted for 45% of polio cases worldwide and 80% of cases reported from the African region in 2003. This high prevalence was attributed to poor vaccine coverage during the previous control campaigns. But the of hopes of eradication were dashed by a boycott of the polio immunization campaign in three states in northern Nigeria, amidst rumors and public distrust.

Political and religious leaders of Kano, Zamfara, and Kaduna states in 2003 stopped the campaign by calling on parents not to allow their children to be vaccinated. These leaders argued that the vaccine could be contaminated with anti-fertility agents, HIV, and cancerous agents. Many blame the war in Iraq for the boycott and the belief of contamination. Many scholars backed and lead the boycott, leading to many not getting the immunization needed.

Embarrassed by the political undertone of the boycott, Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, President of the International Fiqh Council, said, “In fact, I was completely astonished about the attitude of our fellow scholars of Kano towards polio vaccine. I disapprove of their opinion, for the lawfulness of such vaccine in the point of view of Islam is as clear as sunlight.” Sheikh Qaradawi said that the same polio vaccine has been effective in over 50 Muslim countries, and blamed the SCSN for creating a negative image of Islam: “They distort the image of Islam and make it appear as if it contradicts science and medical progress.”

Truth of the rumor that the vaccine was contaminated with HIV and other diseases was never established but lack of trust in Northern Nigeria remained. Efforts of the federal government to shut down the rumors were rejected and had no effect. After the 11-month boycott, officials finally relaunched a immunization program for these Nigerian states.

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