Friday, December 25, 2009

Health News Briefs: Christmas Edition

Some of the interesting news and developments from the recent weeks in healthcare, bioethics, and medicine:

Myopia (Nearsightedness) Increases: Between 1999 - 2004 the prevalence of myopia in the USA increased substantially for individuals aged 12 to 54 years as compared to between 1971 -1972 (41.6% vs. 25.0%). Potentially due to the increased use of computers that require close focus work. The study can be found in the Archives of OphthalmologyArch Ophthalmol. 2009;127(12):1632-1639.

Virtual Visits to the Doctor: Virtual visits to the doctor are becoming more common as web-cameras and software allow for doctors to communicate with patients. Some physicians see the danger of replacing physical examination with video interaction. 

Registries for Diseases: Registries for rare or uncommon conditions are being created by patient groups and other organizations to catalog patient health statuses, treatment plans, and other information for providing more effective treatment strategies for patients. 

From Cosmetics to Tanning Salons: Instead of taxing cosmetic procedures like Botox (R) in the Senate Healthcare Bill, dermatologists and the cosmetics industry have managed to shift the tax unto tanning salons. Opponents of the cosmetics tax argue that tanning salons expose customers to harmful UV radiation, while cosmetics have become an increasingly regular part of life. However, this appears to be a case of one industry seeking to avoid painful costs by shifting to another.

Healthcare Bill Additions: Some of the more more interesting additions to the healthcare legislation include $300 million dollars in Medicaid funds for Louisiana, an exemption for Hawaii to maintain its current healthcare system, and more federal Medicaid funding to Nebraska, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Certainly a considerable amount of federal spending is now being provided for states to secure crucial votes.

(Global) Environmental and Health Initiatives in Thailand: Thailand, which has been seeking to rapidly expand its manufacturing base to compete with other Asian economies, has recently seen an unprecedented push by residents to limit the pollution and toxic chemicals emitted by factories. Cancer rates have been found to be highest in areas with large industrial development in the country and a recent legal decision halted construction to impose new regulations.

Michael Shusterman is the Editor in Chief of TuftScope (2009 - 2010).
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TuftScope: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Health, Ethics, and Policy

TuftScope is a student journal published biannually in conjunction with Tufts University since 2001. Funding is provided by the Tufts Community Union Senate. The opinions expressed on this weblog are solely those of the authors. The staff reserves the right to edit blog postings for clarity and to remove nonfunctional links.

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