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Israeli Vaccine Drive Excludes Millions of Palestinians in Occupied Territories

STORY JANUARY 05, 2021

Despite the fast rollout, human rights groups are expressing alarm over Israel’s decision Not to vaccinate Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, where about 1,500 people have died during the pandemic.

Israel has defended its actions citing the Oslo Peace Accords, which put Palestinian authorities in charge of healthcare in the West Bank and Gaza. (An accord that Israel never applied, as usual)

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a physician, member of the Palestinian Parliament and head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. “Israelis are getting the vaccines, and Palestinians are getting nothing.”

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

Israel has become the first country in the world to administer COVID-19 vaccines to more than 10% of its population. As of Monday, 14% of Israelis had received a vaccine — far higher than any other country. Despite the fast rollout, Israel’s health minister says a total lockdown is needed to combat the surging number of new infections. (Actually, most of Israelis that travelled to the Gulf Emirates were fleeing the lockdown)

This comes as human rights groups are expressing alarm over Israel’s decision not to vaccinate Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, where about 1,500 people have died during the pandemic.

Physicians for Human Rights recently said, quote, “Israel bears moral and humanitarian responsibility for vaccinating the Palestinian population under its control,” unquote. Israel is, however, offering vaccines to Jewish settlers living in the illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Israel has defended its actions, citing the Oslo Peace Accords, which put Palestinian authorities in charge of healthcare in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian officials are facing a number of hurdles in launching its own vaccine campaign, including a shortage of money, lack of access to vaccines, lack of infrastructure to distribute a vaccine.

Israel has so far been relying on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which needs to be stored at minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit.

Storing such a vaccine is impossible in Gaza, where residents often go 12 or more hours a day without electricity.

In 2014, Israel bombed Gaza’s only power plant in what Amnesty International described as “collective punishment” of Palestinians.

We go now to the West Bank city of Ramallah, where we’re joined by Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, physician, member of the Palestinian Parliament, head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, has been leading efforts to manage the pandemic in the West Bank and Gaza.

He was infected with COVID-19 in December. He’s secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, a political party. And he was a presidential candidate in the 2005 elections.

We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Dr. Barghouti. Can you explain what is happening? How has Israel become the country that has vaccinated more of its population than any country in the world, and yet Palestinians are not getting vaccinated? Who’s in charge of this program? Who should be?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, thank you, Amy. I’m glad to be with you.

Israel actually is violating international law, because it is denying its responsibility as an occupying power. Israel managed to get 14 million vaccines for the Israelis and those who hold Israeli IDs, but gave nothing to Palestinians. So, practically, they are vaccinating 8 million Israelis and not vaccinating 5.3, 5.2 million Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories.

More than that, this system of racial discrimination (It is a colonial apartheid discrimination), which can only be compared, in my opinion, to apartheid system, is doing something horrible in the West Bank.

Seven hundred fifty thousand 750,000 illegal settlers are getting the vaccines now; 3.1 million Palestinians in the West Bank are getting nothing.

More than that, in the Israeli prisons, Israel ordered the guards in the prisons to get the vaccine, and probably the Israeli criminal prisoners, but the Palestinian prisoners, 5,000 of them, are getting nothing.

What can be more clear here than that this confirms that this is really a system of racial discrimination?

And when they speak that the Palestinian Authority is responsible, this is totally misleading.

First of all, the Palestinian Authority approached them, asking at least for vaccines for us, the healthcare providers, who are being infected around the clock. And Israel refused.

The Palestinian Authority is in charge only of 38% of the West Bank, only.

Sixty-two percent of the West Bank is Area C, under full Israeli military control, and Israel is doing nothing for Palestinians there.

If the Palestinian Authority tries to import a vaccine from outside, they will need Israeli permit. And Israel did not allow any permit yet for Palestinians. Israel controls the borders, controls the imports, controls the exports.

And the biggest disaster is in Gaza, because in Gaza you have 2.1 million besieged by Israel, lacking health facilities, lacking equipment, and there, they are not getting any vaccines.

70% of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees displaced from their land in 1948. When you tell them, “Go and quarantine,” I don’t know how they can do that, if you have 10 people living in two rooms. It’s impossible.

The problem is that the rate of infection today in the West Bank and Gaza is 36%, while in Israel it’s 4.5%. Israelis are getting the vaccines, and Palestinians are getting nothing.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But, Dr. Barghouti, isn’t it in the interest of Israel, from a public health perspective, even if they want to pursue this continued antagonistic policy toward the Palestinians, to have the Palestinians vaccinated, to reach herd immunity in the total area?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: You’re absolutely right. In my opinion, Netanyahu and his government — this man is so racist. He only thinks of himself. He only thinks of his political future. He only thinks of escaping the criminal charges against him and being reelected again.

And all he does is to satisfy the Israeli right-wing voters.

In reality, what his government is doing is actually hurting the Israelis, as well, because you cannot reach herd community if you have 8 million people vaccinated and 5.2 million people not vaccinated, especially that 130,000 Palestinian workers will continue to go to Israel for work and will interact with Israelis, of course, and there are 750,000 other Israelis, illegal settlers, in the West Bank, who will continue to commute and communicate with the 3.1 million unvaccinated Palestinians.

So, practically, this is a crime against Palestinians and a crime against the health of Israelis. It’s a violation of the international law, but also it’s, in my opinion, the worst crime against medical ethics, which says nobody should be discriminated against because of anything, which says, “Do no harm, and help people as much as you can as a health professional.”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you — the COVAX facility that the World Health Organization established to help poor countries has pledged to vaccinate 20% of Palestinians. Where does that stand right now in terms of that pledge?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: I am in communication with the head of WHO here. And they are trying their best, but they do not think they can get anything here before four or five months, and if they are lucky.

Up ’til now, they don’t know what vaccine they can get in. Up ’til now, they don’t know how to get vaccines. That’s why, given the huge spread now of community infections in the West Bank and Gaza, a very high number of cases — I estimate we have already 600,000 cases.

And they approached the Israelis. The WHO approached Israel, asking at least for vaccines for the health professionals. Israel refused and continues to refuse.

So, unfortunately, we are looking here at a potential real serious disaster. And as a person who is suffering from COVID-19 now, after nine months of being so protective and trying to be very careful, I can tell you this is a horrible disease.

I don’t wish it for anybody. It’s very dangerous. It can be destructive. It can kill the people. And it can also leave them with incapacity for a very long — for the rest of their life.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, as you said, you yourself have COVID-19 right now. You’re in the throes of it. We know that Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator, died of COVID-19. You’re a frontline physician. Do you get vaccinated?

And what about the vaccines? Apparently, PA has asked the United Arab Emirates to share some of its supply of Chinese-made vaccine, and the Palestinian Authority has reportedly ordered 4 million doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine.

When are these doses going to come? And what are you demanding of the not only Israeli government, but the U.S. government, since it gives so much money to the Israeli government?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: I think I demand from the whole international community to do two things: First of all, to exercise immediate pressure on Israel to allow the passage of vaccines to at least the beginning — in the beginning, to the health professionals that are taking care of people, so that the health system would not collapse, and then to the elderly, of course, etc.;

Second, we’re asking the international community to provide aid, bypassing Israel. Israel will not respond. And the international community has a big duty here.

I was not vaccinated. No health professional in the West Bank has been vaccinated yet. And we don’t know when we will get this vaccine. And it is really critical, because the rate of infection is going up, and it is affecting — it could affect everybody in the community. So what we need is immediate pressure.

Regarding the Russian vaccine, yes,, there was a request, but I don’t think the Russians can provide such vaccines, because their capacity of production is still low. They have produced only 500,000, up ’til now, vaccines. And their maximum capacity is 4 to 5 million per month, and they need 100 million vaccines for Russia itself. So I don’t think that is a solution, although the Sputnik vaccine seems to be very good.

I think what we need is to really have a way of getting the AstraZeneca or the Moderna vaccine. Of course, we have a problem with Pfizer, although we have managed to provide some facilities in the West Bank, if we can get it, to give it to people.

But the most immediate need now — now it’s a health disaster. Now it’s a very risky situation. A whole population is subjected to a very big, alarming risk. That’s why it is very urgent to immediately exercise pressure so that Palestinians also get the vaccines.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you describe this as medical apartheid?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Yes, absolutely. This is the worst form of apartheid: medical apartheid. It didn’t even exist in South Africa.

This is just beyond description. Imagine you go to a prison: You vaccinate the guards, but not the prisoners; you vaccinate Israeli prisoners, who are criminal usually, and not vaccinate Palestinian political prisoners.

Imagine you go in the cities of the West Bank: The settlers are vaccinated, and nearby Palestinian cities and communities are not vaccinated. Not only they grab our land, not only they settle illegally on our land, take away our natural resources, take away our sources of economy, but also they back this system of apartheid. I call it — I call it vaccination with racism.—

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, physician, member of the Palestinian Parliament, thanks for joining us.

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And what are the Brain cells Survival Skills?

Posted on March 4, 2013

Fear beyond the Amygdala
Ranya Bechara posted on Feb. 6, 2013

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For decades now, scientists have thought that fear could not be experienced without the amygdala.

This almond-shaped structure located deep in the brain (pictured on the left). The amygdala has been shown to play an important role in fear-related behaviours, emotions, and memories, and patients with damage to the amygdala on both sides of the brain were thought to be incapable of feeling afraid.

However, a recent study in Nature Neuroscience reports that these ‘fearless’ patients do experience fear if made to inhale carbon dioxide- a procedure that induces feelings of suffocation and panic.

The patients reported being quite surprised at their own fear, and that it was a novel experience for them!

Scientists behind the study have suggested that the way the brain processes fear information depends on the type of stimulus. The results of this study could have important implications for people who suffer from anxiety disorders such as panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

More details can be found here

And how the brain can momentarily react to oxygen deficiency from Strokes?

Can scientists use the brain’s inherent survival mechanisms to develop better stroke treatment?

Strokes are a major cause of death and disability worldwide, with 150,000 people affected in the UK every year.

Most strokes happen when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain is blocked due to blood clots or fat deposits. Once blood is cut off from an area of the brain, brain cells are starved for oxygen and nutrients and start to die within minutes.

A new study in Nature Medicine, scientists at the University of Oxford reveal a novel way in which the brain protects itself in response to stroke.

Ranya Bechara posted on Feb. 27, 2013 “Stroke Vs Brain: Harnessing the Brain’s Survival Skills”

Current treatments for stroke are focussed on breaking up the clots, improving blood flow to the affected area, and ultimately reducing the brain damage caused by the stroke. However, the so called ‘clot-busters’ are only effective if given within one to two hours of the stroke.

Other ways of protecting the brain against stroke damage are in high demand.

In this study, the research team from Oxford University (in collaboration with other researchers from Greece, Germany, and Canada, and the UK) decided to try a new approach. They investigated a phenomenon that has been known for years: some brain cells have an inherent defence mechanism that allows them to survive when deprived of oxygen.

These cells are located in the part of the brain responsible for forming memories: a pretty sea-horse shaped structure called the hippocampus.

The scientists analysed the proteins produced by these cells and found that the key to their survival is a protein called hamartin. This protein is released by the cells in response to oxygen deprivation, and when its production was suppressed, the cells became more vulnerable to the effects of stroke.

Original article is available here

Photo credit: http://www.vascularinfo.co.uk

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Vaccines Don’t Mean We’ll See the Last of Covid, Experts Warn

Past immunization campaigns suggest the disease may never be fully eradicated

Why this prediction that the Covid virus will never be eradicated? Because there will always be a large proportion of susceptible population in the community who are Not vaccinated..

By John Lauerman and James Paton. December 20, 2020

In record speed, vaccines are here, and more are on their way. 

Less than a year since the coronavirus began ravaging the world, the first shots are raising hopes for wiping the Covid-19 pandemic from the face of the earth.

Today’s programs in the U.S. and the U.K. are precursors to immunization campaigns intended to reach the planet’s entire population — all 8 billion people in every corner of the globe.

Is there reason for optimism? 

Vaccines are the best way to eliminate infectious disease: Smallpox has been eradicated and polio is on the brink, with just two countries where transmission persists. (How about the countries succumbing to sanctions from receiving vaccines, basic medication and basic food? Like Yemen, Libya, Syria, Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank…?)

But global vaccine campaigns take time — usually decades — suggesting that even with the latest technologies, money and power behind the unprecedented global drive to knock out Covid-19, the disease is unlikely to be eliminated any time soon.

“I would be surprised to see an actual eradication of this virus now that it’s all over the world, I’d be shocked, given how contagious it is.” said Walter Orenstein, associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta and former head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s immunization program. “I’d be shocked, given how contagious it is.”

Snags in supply and distribution have already arisen in the opening days of the U.S. campaign, and the U.K., the first Western country to begin immunizing, vaccinated just 138,000 people in its first week. Meanwhile, Europe has yet to start inoculations, and probably won’t do so until after Christmas.

Concerns are growing over how long it will take to immunize vast swaths of the world beyond a group of wealthy countries that have snapped up early supplies.

A global program called Covax, which aims to deploy Covid vaccines around the globe, has secured deals with developers including Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Plc.

But some of those supplies are expected to come from an experimental inoculation from Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Plc that’s been delayed and may not be ready until late next year.

“It’s really, really complicated to make sure we get those vaccines produced and distributed in an equitable way globally, for both moral and economic reasons,” Mark Suzman, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told reporters on a Dec. 9 call.

Suzman pointed to research showing that broad access to vaccines could deliver significant economic benefits to all countries and save many lives.

Since wealthy nations will likely have more than enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations, they should consider the reallocation of some supplies to those most in need, he said.

Smallpox Vaccination - NYC outbreak 1947
People line up for smallpox vaccinations outside a hospital in the Bronx after an outbreak in New York City in 1947.Photographer: Bettmann/Getty Images

Mass vaccination has been one of the most successful public health interventions in the world and has played an important part raising U.S. life expectancy by more than 50% over the last century.

About a third of U.S. deaths in 1900 occurred in children under age 5, many of them from diseases like smallpox, measles and whooping cough that are now preventable by immunization.

Some new vaccines have also gained quick and widespread use, like shots that prevent pneumococcal infections that can cause severe illness in children and adults. Introduction of the shingles vaccination has offered prevention of the painful disease to millions of people over the past two decades.

A veteran of the World Health Organization effort to eradicate smallpox, Orenstein would often immunize himself in front of entire villages to assuage safety fears.

The agency resolved to try to eradicate the disease in 1959 when it still afflicted many developing countries, but the effort didn’t kick into high gear until 1967 when more funds and personnel were committed by the WHO and its members.

The smallpox effort initially targeted entire populations, but that turned out to be impractical, recalled William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University infectious-disease specialist who has advised the government on vaccination. The turnaround came when the strategy switched to identifying cases and then vaccinating everyone in proximity, sometimes hundreds of households.

This approach of creating a vaccination ring around cases was only possible, however, because smallpox can be a disfiguring disease, making it easy to identify, and spreads relatively slowly.

“It has this reputation of spreading rapidly but it actually spreads rather slowly,” Schaffner said. “You also need rather close contact for transmission to occur.”

Those features allowed vaccination teams to identify patients just as they were becoming infectious and close off all opportunities for transmission. Even so, it took two decades for the worldwide effort to contain the last outbreak in 1977.

A better comparison to Covid might be polio, an intestinal virus that sometimes causes permanent, severe disease. Polio is similar to Covid in that only a minority of infected people — about one in 100 — become extremely ill.

Sabin Sunday
Children and parents line up outside the Children’s Hospital to receive polio vaccines in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 24, 1960.Photographer: Cincinnati Museum Center/Getty Images

That’s created one of the problems anticipated in widespread Covid vaccination: People who don’t believe they’re vulnerable to the disease may not want to be vaccinated, even though it may benefit others by keeping hospital intensive-care units free and possibly preventing transmission of the disease.

An important difference with polio, however, is that it can cause severe disease in young children, leaving them with lifelong paralysis, Orenstein said. That’s unlike Covid, which mainly strikes the elderly and chronically ill. That’s left some portions of the public indifferent.

“We’re getting more than a death a minute — on some days two deaths a minute,” he said. “It’s very disturbing to see the lack of concern in other people.”

Yet even with the specter of children paralyzed from polio and a vaccine available for some 65 years, global elimination of that disease still hasn’t been reached.

Two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, continue to have spread because of insufficient vaccination rates,  according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The latest Covid updates Make sense of the headlines and the outbreak’s global response with the Coronavirus Daily.EmailBloomberg may send me offers and promotions.

To defeat Covid, “we’ve got to convince people to take the vaccine,” said Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. government infectious-disease specialist, in an interview.

If you have a highly effective vaccine and only 50% of the people take it, you’re not going to have the impact that you’d need to essentially bring a pandemic down to such a low level that it’s no longer threatening society. And that’s the goal of a vaccine, the same way we did with measles, the same way we did with polio, the same way the world did with smallpox.”

Most standard immunizations provide protection for years to decades.  We still don’t know how long Covid vaccines will last, Fauci pointed out.

And it isn’t clear whether they prevent transmission along with protection against symptoms, although studies may soon shed light on that.

The logistics and supply-chain challenge the world faces today is “more complicated than usual because for the first time in history we’ll be introducing multiple vaccines against the same target at the same time,Rajeev Venkayya, president of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s vaccines business, said in an interview.

That means countries will need databases to track the rollout and ensure people are getting the doses at the right times, as well as systems to monitor potential side effects and share the information with the public, he said.

Early on, countries plan to prioritize the most vulnerable people as well as health-care workers and other critical staff, which will reduce deaths and suffering considerably, said Venkayya, former special assistant for biodefense to U.S. President George W. Bush.

“But transmission won’t go down dramatically in the beginning. It’s going to take time to get to a sufficient level of vaccine-driven population immunity before we begin to dampen transmission.”

Potentially by the middle of next year countries such as the U.K. and U.S. will be able to see a “real dampening of transmission,” he said. “That timeline is going to be delayed in many other parts of the world that don’t have this kind of early access to vaccines.”

Unvaccinated populations always threaten to reintroduce disease into areas where herd immunity appears to have taken over.

Just last year, the annual number of worldwide, reported measles case rose more than six-fold to about 870,000, the most since 1996, as immunization rates flagged. 

The world is likely to see the same level of viral persistence from the coronavirus, said Klaus Stohr, a former Novartis AG vaccine executive and WHO official who championed efforts to prepare for pandemics.

“The prediction is pretty clear: The virus will never be eradicated. Why? Because there will always be a large proportion of susceptible population in the community.” said Klaus Stohr

— With assistance by Jason Gale

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Question posted on Quartz: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made from mRNA. Does that mean they’ll mess with my genetic material, my DNA?
Vaccines based on genetic material may give you pause. But mRNA vaccines, which have been in the works for nearly three decades, never touch our DNA.

As a result they can’t interfere with human genes. Instead, they just borrow some of our cellular tools before harmlessly breaking down in a matter of hours.

Specifically, mRNA vaccines for Covid-19 take advantage of our cells’ protein-making factories, called ribosomes.

Normally, our ribosomes create proteins based on recipes from our own DNA, which is locked up inside the nucleus, a protective, membrane-covered bubble within our cells.

The vaccine shot delivers a microscopic, fatty package into our cells, carrying a recipe—the mRNA sequence—for a protein that mimics the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

When that mRNA meets up with our ribosomes, our ribosome chefs interpret this new mRNA as if it were a recipe generated from our own DNA, but the DNA inside the cell’s nucleus remains untouched.

Question: And if the cell membrane gets punctured, weak and unhealthy… and the mRNA sequence seep through and alter the DNA? What kind of a new human species we end up with?

Damaged Children, after receiving one kind of mandatory vaccines.

by Laurel Austin | Jul 14, 2020

What is every parents dream? To have normal healthy children on that day of their birth.

To teach them and raise them in their faith, their belief and their ideals. Strengthen them and laugh with them as they grow. To watch them grow into loving caring responsible adults who have compassion, integrity and love for their fellow human beings.

To watch them get married and have a family of their own, blessing you with grandchildren. (That is Not a dream. That is series of calamities awaiting newborns)

What happens when that dream is stolen? Not by accident, not by some unfortunate circumstance, but a deliberate intentional assault. (Mandatory all kinds of vaccine schedules)

Today in America and around the world, thanks to the vaccine schedule that we have implemented on our children, this very thing has happened. It has destroyed the lives and future of our children as well as their children or potential children.

It has caused severe and extreme anguish, normal day-to-day functioning, and the ability to express oneself and love each other.

My name is Laurel Austin and I am the mother of six children. My older four children have varying degrees of what is today called autism, but I call it vaccine injury.

My younger two children were never vaccinated, and they are completely typically developed, functioning teenagers.

Right now my teenagers are helping me to care for my 28 and 30-year-old sons Joshua and Jeremy. 

I can tell you all the criteria that I have gathered in order to make this assumption (conjecture?), and it is based on medical evidence as well as parental observation.

It is based on genetic testing that was done that showed no genetic link towards anything that would predispose my children to these symptoms known as autism. They were tested for fragile X, Prader Willi, celiac disease, Rhett syndrome, and it all came back negative.

They were also tested for heavy-metal toxicity and the test came back positive. (Heavy metal contaminations must be obvious, since all equipments and machineries basically need many kinds of heavy metal)

What bewilders me is how doctors will continue to push these vaccines even though their roster of patients who are children continue to become damaged.

And not just damaged with “autism“, but also cancer, SIDS, allergies, diabetes, asthma, auto-immune diseases. The list never ends.

We are told we are a conspiracy theorist if we noticed the change following the vaccination and speak up to our doctor.

Pediatricians are firing parents from bringing their children to be seen in the office if they refuse the scheduled vaccines.

We are told to just wait till the next visit and we’ll see if things get any better while our children are banging their heads against the wall, losing speech, losing eye contact, losing any semblance of development they had once obtained.

We are shunned by our peers for speaking out that a vaccine harmed our child. Any other injury evokes empathy, sympathy, consideration, and compassion from the community. Except for autism.

And as if all of this wasn’t bad enough, when the parents of these harmed, damaged children that they love so much go to seek help and find none through their pediatricians and mainstream medical doctors, when they search out alternatives medicine, they are then attacked four-fold.

Parents are told systematically that their children were born this way and to just accept it, it’s genetics.

But these parents know for a fact they had witnessed the change, the loss of acquired skill.

In their hearts they know that this is not how their child was born to be, this was something done to them.

This is what our society has reduced itself to. This is the battle I am fighting right now.

These parents need our help. They need our confirming witness, they need our support, they need us to rise up and defend the right to thrive for all of our children.

The autism rate has gone from one in 10,000 children in the 1990s to a rate of one in 29 children today. This is an epidemic. There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic.

There are remedies and cures out there. There are methods in which you can at the minimum alleviate some of the more severe symptoms that your child has.

The system is currently eliminating these. They want your child on their pharmaceutical drugs. The word pharmaceutical is from the root word PharmaKia, which is sorcery in the Bible.

Bill Gates has come out publicly and said that through healthcare and vaccines we can lower the population by 10 to 12%. (You means Gates knows that many will die from vaccines and degraded current healthcare systems?)

Right now, the world is looking to him to give us a coronavirus vaccine.

It looks like he will have the opportunity to fulfill his goal.

The time to speak out is now.

Note: I am one who doesn’t trust this hurried Covid-19 vaccine. And I will desist from taking my annual Flu vaccine as well.

Written by Dyami Millarson

Underlying tooth decay, there is a constant battle between demineralisation and mineralisation.

Dental caries may simply be defined as the cumulative result of the cyclical ebbs and flows of demineralisation and mineralisation.

Remineralisation is the term used for the normal daily process whereby the teeth, namely the enamel and dentin, are repaired from demineralisation.

Enamel is the material that covers the outside layer of the teeth above the crown. It is one of the most mineralised and hardest parts of the human body. Enamel is a composite of both organic and inorganic components, and the same is the case for dentin.

Dentin is the hard dental tissue that is the whole body of the tooth . Alternatively, dentin may be more specifically defined as the dental layer under the enamel which covers the surface of the teeth.

Enamel and dentin are also seemingly contrasted with the latter being defined as a mineralised dental tissue and the former as a mineralised dental structure,

Context is relevant for understanding the definition of mineralisation: Mineralisation in this article deals with tooth decay, it is relevant to specify that biomineralization is meant by this.

In the context of soil science, mineralisation is the process by which organic matter is converted to mineral nutrients, which are easy to absorb for the roots of the plants growing in the thus mineralised soil.

However, biomineralization is the process by which biological organisms produce minerals ), and that is the process we are interested in for understanding tooth decay and we mean biomineralization when we speak of tooth mineralisation.

The science of biomineralization is the study of biologically produced materials, such as human teeth, as well as the study of the biological processes leading to the formation of such organic-inorganic composites ).

As a refresher for the reader who might be inundated with new facts, enamel and dentin are composites of both organic and inorganic components.

The formation of hard dental tissues, such as enamel and dentin, involves the following two processes:

  1. a biological process which includes cell signalling and
  2. a biochemical process where the biomolecules interact for the formation of crystal apatite .

Apatite refers to any member of a series of phosphate minerals and apatite comes from an Ancient Greek word for deceit, as apatite resembles a plethora of other minerals .

Apatite is the most common phosphate mineral, and is the main source of phosphorus required by plants in the soil . Apatite is also relevant for soil mineralisation.

Apatite is not popular as a gemstone because it is too soft, and thus considered too brittle for most jewellery use.

Calcium phosphate, which is another name for apatite, is what the bones and teeth of humans and animals are made of, and the biological apatites, of which the aforementioned human and animal hard tissues are composed, are usually hydroxyapatites, also known as hydroxyapatites without an l in the third syllable .

Apatite found in bone has a unique chemical composition as well as unique geometry and the basic composite structure of bone, as seen from the nanoscale, consists of collagen fibrils densely mineralised with hydroxy(l)apatites.

Collagen is the single most abundant protein in the animal kingdom and may simply be defined as an insoluble, hard, fibrous protein that accounts for one-third of all the protein in the human body.

Although there are 16 types of collagen in total, 80-90% of the collagen which is found in the human body consists of types I, II and III.

The collagen molecules as found in the body pack together and form long thin structures known as fibrils.

Type I collagen, of which the vast majority of the fibril-type collagen in the human body consists, is not only found in the human bones and skin, but also in the connective tissues, tendons and fibrous cartilage .

Cavitation occurs once the enamel and dentin do not have the proper structure anymore for maintaining their mineral framework, and remineralisation may be regarded by the dentist as an insufficient treatment at that point).

Remineralisation is therefore a form of preventative medicine, i.e., the dentist seeks to prevent the formation of cavities by means of dental remineralisation .

However, demineralisation is Not a continuous one-way process, but it is a cyclic event characterised by waves of mineralisation and demineralisation.

Although dental remineralisation may, in practice, be employed by the dentist for the prevention, repair and reversal of dental caries, which is a synonym of tooth decay by the way, there is a definite limit to what mineralisation therapies by the dentist can do, provided that they are not accompanied by proper dental care at home.

It is therefore vital that the following be answered:

  1. what, then, is proper dental care? Here are some dental care tips: brush your teeth no less than twice a day and keep in mind more than twice a day may be desirable,
  2. brush your tongue as well,
  3. flossing is equally important as brushing your teeth and so you should never skip this, floss all of your teeth properly no matter how difficult it may be to reach them and so take the time for a proper flossing routine,
  4. drink plenty of water instead of sugary beverages, and generally avoid foods that contain lots of sugar and carbohydrates as well as foods that have a low pH, i.e., foods that are acidic .
  5. Microbial activity is associated with the onset of dental caries, and when one eats too much sugar, carbohydrates or foods with a low pH, one is feeding those cariogenic bacteria with nutrients that they need for breaking down one’s teeth, and so limiting sugar, carbohydrates and low-pH foods is a practical and viable strategy for preventing the onset of tooth decay in the mouth.
  6. Saliva plays an important role in protecting the teeth against damaging microbial activity and natural anti-microbial agents, such as spices, herbs and probiotics, seem effective for controlling cariogenic microbes, i.e., micro-organisms responsible for dental caries

Although my keen interest in phonetics already made me instinctively interested in the mouth, one of the main reasons I was alerted to the importance of oral hygiene was the ageing-related fact that good oral hygiene reduces mortality risk and a good dental care regimen should therefore be taken extremely seriously by those who wish to follow a longevity-promoting lifestyle.

Seeing the link between oral hygiene and longevity is undoubtedly an indispensable health-boosting insight, and I have become much more attentive to dental care ever since I became aware of this fact.

I recall that I watched cartoons as a child about bacteria that were destroying the teeth, and that is when it first dawned upon me that micro-organisms were responsible for tooth decay, which is what made me very concerned about cleaning my teeth and so I never experienced a single cavity until 2020 around my 26th birthday when I had been lax with dental care for a while due to experiencing prolonged heightened levels of stress, which usually makes one vulnerable to developing dental caries.

Natural compounds extracted from the following herbs and spices may be effective against cariogenic bacteria: Bauhinia forficata, Curcuma xanthorrhiza, Licorice Root, Eurycoma longifolia jack, Cinnamomum burmannii, tea tree, Sterculia lychnophora Hance, Melia azedarach L., Tamarix aphylla L., Cinnamon bark, Acacia arabica, Ginger-garlic paste, clove, Acacia catechu, Thuja orientalis, Camellia japonica, Quercus infectoria, Pongamia pinnata, Cymbopogon citratus.

I use a few drops of tea tree oil mixed in a cup of water as my preferred mouthwash product, though one should be careful not to ingest the tea tree oil and therefore one ought to make sure to wash one’s mouth thoroughly with water after one has finished gargling with the mix of tea tree and water to rinse one’s mouth.

When my gums hurt or if my gums are bleeding, I may apply some tea tree and it usually works; I usually spit it out after 10-15 minutes of holding the tea tree in my mouth with increasing saliva formation, and then I wash my mouth with water.

Micronutrients may be essential for oral health, because research has demonstrated that they reduced oral inflammations, such as gingivitis and periodontitis .

Gingivitis, which is basically an inflammation of the gums, is a commonly occurring, mild form of gum disease . This inflammation may be caused by bacteria and if this inflammation is left untreated, it may develop into periodontitis, which is a much more serious medical condition than gingivitis .

Interspersed with all the factual information, let me add one more personal anecdote to this article: I believe that I may have been experiencing an inflammation of my gums due to bacterial overgrowth this year, and what helped me in my case was having more dishes with lots of pepper.

I noticed already this summer that my gums had receded a little bit, and for this reason, I may look into the topic of regrowing the gum in another blog article.

When it comes to habits preventing the formation of oral cavities, it is best to avoid sugary foods, but in case we do choose to engage in such a guilty pleasure, it is recommend that the sugary foods be eaten with a meal rather than between meals .

Although it may be counterintuitive to have sweets with meals, it is truly the best habit for the teeth, and my mind is instinctively making the following analogy: many vitamin and mineral supplements ought to be taken with meals because this is the best habit for the gut.

(Such instinctive analogies that my mind draws for me usually have a mnemonic function.)

As perceived within the context of the notion that saliva may be important for protecting and repairing the teeth, it might be advisable to include salivation-promoting foods in one’s diet: peas, bananas, Brussel sprouts (*31).

Which vitamins and minerals are healthy for teeth?

Vitamins A, B and D, magnesium, iron and not to forget calcium and phosphorus, are relevant for dental and skeletal health

The functions of the following vitamins and minerals are not to be overlooked: vitamin A builds the enamel and keeps the gums healthy, vitamin D deposits calcium in the jawbones that support the teeth and it boosts dental mineral density, phosphorus repairs and protects the enamel, and calcium forties the enamel

While one needs sufficient calcium to fortify one’s teeth and bones, one ought to commit to memory that one needs vitamin D for the absorption of calcium

One may obtain vitamin A from dairy products, oily fish and liver products such as beef liver, lamb liver, liver sausage, cod liver oil, king mackerel, salmon, bluefin tuna, goat cheese, butter, cheddar

One may obtain vitamin B from leafy greens, turkey, legumes, sunflower seeds, yoghurt, milk, mussels, trout, salmon, clams, chicken, eggs, oysters, beef

One may obtain vitamin D from red meat, oily fish, egg yolks and liver products

One may obtain magnesium from nuts such as almonds and cashews, seeds such as pumpkin seeds and chia seeds, leafy greens such as spinach, legumes such as black beans and in smaller quantities from fish and meat

One may obtain iron from beans, nuts, dried fruit, red meat and liver products

One may obtain calcium from leafy greens, dairy products and fish where one also consumes the bones such as is the case with sardines (*41).

One may obtain phosphorus from poultry products such as eggs and chicken and turkey, dairy products such as yoghurt, milk and cheese, lentils, nuts such as cashews, pumpkin seeds, seafood such as salmon and scallops, quinoa, beans, amaranth, sunflower seeds, liver products, potatoes, and beef

Some may also recommend bone broth as a way to help the teeth recover from dental decay

Personal note: I clean my teeth by dipping my brush in white vinegar and adding a little bicarbonate of sodium. You save on all these expensive toothpastes. Best to brush before going to bed in order Not to allow bacteria to accumulate during sleep for lack of salivation. Drink water to wash the teeth before brushing the teeth.

How am I spending my confinement?

Note: I am glad that I posted this article on April 26, 2020 to remind myself how I behaved then to the new emerging situation.

Since then, and in the last 2 months, I undertook to focus on “refurbishing” my home after decades of negligence, as my parents were seriously ill Painting all the house, ceiling, walls, doors, window.., repairing doors, windows… remodeling the previous “interior design“, adding my own “touch” of what makes me more comfortable and more inclined to think, work, “produce”…

Kind of trying to refresh whatever “passions” I might have bottled up since childhood and snatching my “rights” to have my own corner in the “space

That would be since last week of February.

Our building is of 3 floors and a ground floor (now split in two for my married nephews). My parents, as most parents in Lebanon and the Near East, think of keeping all their children in one location in the future. Bad idea since it barely works to keep any sense of harmony among adults.

On January 31st, my mother passed away after one week in intensive care and my aunt also passed away 2 weeks later, in coma and in the ICU. 

Sort of most elderly over 90 have no longer any chance to survive any ICU, and that was before the Covid-19 pandemics was revealed.

We order online products from the nearest supermarket. Since I sold my car many years ago, and refrained from borrowing any car, my nephew used to ask me what he could buy me when he drives away. That lasted 2 weeks, and then everyone forgot about me.

The delivered bags are left outside the main building door until each one get out and alcohol spray the external bags and then the inner bags and eventually the inner-inner bags…

We ran out of potable water that we fill our 10 L gallons plastic containers from a running source in the town of Beit Chabab.

My brother-in-law insisted that I join him to help him fill 20 of these gallons.

He is a retired officer from the army, and I guess he receives detailed procedure on how to disinfect everything.

Consequently, Victor spays alcohol around the floor of the water source and I have to carry the filled gallon straight to the car trunk without letting them touch the ground…

A couple of youth came by and washed their faces after jogging, and the disinfection had to restart from scratch.

Before entering the car, I had to stretch my feet outside so that alcohol is sprayed on my shoes.

The funny part is that I had to spray the 4 tires, on the ground that kids play in the parking lot. Go figure.

My sister came from London on the last airplane before closing the airport and she stayed 2 weeks in total confinement on the rooftop.

After her confinement was over, my sister cleaned up her apartment for an entire week, for hours each day ,until she got backache, and then moved down to my apartment to totally clear up all the accumulated junk that my parents, her daughters and herself stored for over 50 years.

Actually, I had cleared up for an entire month loads of junks after mother had a hip surgery 2 years ago.

Although I had hired a helper to clear pathways among the junks on all balconies and in the dining room in order to be able “travel” around, I ended up with a hernia and had to submit to a surgery a few months later.

Yes, I cleared junks just to make pathways in order to move around in the house and the balconies.

I could do that because my brother-in-law (who is responsible for most of the junks and who refrain from throwing out any useless “object”), was oversea visiting one of his daughters.

The worst part is that he goes ramage in the bags on the curve and we end up with many bags in the garden, on the rooftop and on the stairs leading to the rooftop.

The funny part that highly exacerbate me is when he asks me about a junk part that he “needs” and I have to repeat: “Man, you denied me the joy of stepping out into my garden. Go dig deeper into your trash of junks”. An open air warehouse of junks.

You have no idea what people accumulate in their lifetime, objects that they never used and still believe they might get around to using them.

In the USA, they throw Yard Sales in summer time. We didn’t even got this idea to start with, even once in a lifetime.

Right now, we have 40 extra large bags of fine clothes that have barely been used once, and increasing by the days, with the decision to dispose of them later on, one way or another.

My sister and I reserved my parents sleeping room to “store” these bags.

These bags are deposited on one of the beds and waiting for us to figure out how to dispose of them. Nobody care to pick up clothes, retrieve them and distribute them for the time being, (but conditions will quickly change after the massive atomic explosion in the Port of Beirut).

Actually, my brother-in-law has rented a large warehouse to “sell clothes” after he retired and is still spending more money on this failing “business” than on his family, cars and raising chicken…

He turned out to be just one of those sick persons who hoard stuff and never let go off, Not even selling them. Actually, when a buyer shows up, he raises the price so high so that he doesn’t has to relinquish the object.

Yes, there is this old honda car of 1980 that has been parked for years and nobody is willing to drive it anymore. And yet, this person refuses to sell it and is still occasionally spending money on repairing it.

Our garden has turned into an open “warehouse” of total junks and debris and this person wouldn’t let us clear the garden to make any good use of it.

Besides the extra large bags of great clothes, we gathered 70 extra large bags of good clothes to be left on the curb for the municipality to take as waste. My sister considers to be shameful to give away these 70 bags.

Since the municipality will Not load in its Friday truck that quantity of bags, we have to deposit on the curve about 6 bags a week. Do the math for how long we need to dispose of these bags.

I spread this joke that my nephews need to take videos of the newly cleared and re-designed house.

The joke was that my comfort style will return the house to its original status, after all this revamping and I will clutter the house according to my style of “comfort zones”

My sister got furious and declared that she will not set foot again. The next day, my sister was back to “finish her job

What of people who refuse to wear great fashionable clothes on the ground they look Not “A la Mode” and prefer to buy expensive new clothes that are way beneath the quality and beauty of the older-kinds of clothes?

In the meanwhile, my project is to re-edit and update my old articles, verging on the 9,500 posts, on my blog, and recollecting the wonderful trekking and adventures that I joined my nephews and nieces around Lebanon.

Yes, I created a sub-category “Travel/Adventure” for that task.

Note: The first generation relatives opened a net group to share their confinement conditions. A couple days later 3 people “left” and now barely 4 people continue to post “Bonjour/Good morning”. I prefer to post “Mar7aba/Saba7 el Khair” when I wake up in the morning.

This article was posted in October 2014 by Ricken Patel. Just a reminder of our Covid-19 pandemics and how the world community is fighting it.

Ebola, Covid-19…: Pandemics vs People

Ebola could threaten us all, and the most urgent need to stop it is for volunteers.
If just 120 doctors among us volunteer, it will *double* the number of doctors in Sierra Leone. Other volunteers – in health, sanitation, logistics – can help too.
This is a call to serve humanity in the deepest possible way, to accept serious risk for our fellow human beings.

Three weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of us went offline to fight climate change. This week, we’re going offline to help stop Ebola.

The Ebola virus is spiraling out of control. Cases in West Africa are doubling every 2-3 weeks and the latest estimate says that up to 1.4 million people could be infected by mid-January.

Talking about exponential growth is frightening

At that scale, this monster threatens the entire world.

I just read that the UN has only $100,000 in its fund for the Ebola outbreak

Mind you that AIDS harvest over 1.5 million each year (as much as Malaria and Dysentery combined).

Though, malaria is the number one disease followed by dysentery that put heavy burden on the States in Africa and Equatorial countries.

Previous Ebola outbreaks have been repeatedly contained at small numbers. But the scale of this epidemic has swamped the region’s weak health systems.

Liberia has less than 1 doctor for every 100,000 people. Governments are providing funds, but there just aren’t enough medical staff to stem the epidemic.

That’s where we come in.

If just 120 doctors among us volunteer, it will *double* the number of doctors in Sierra Leone.

Other volunteers can help too — lab technicians, logisticians, water and sanitation workers, and transport workers. Volunteering means more than time. It means risk.

Health professionals have already died fighting Ebola.

But if there’s any group of people that would consider taking this risk for their fellow human beings, it’s our community.

Great things come from listening to the deepest voices within us.

If you’re a health professional, or have other skills that can help, I ask you to take a moment, listen to the part of you that you most trust, and follow it.

Raising your hand to volunteer is the first step.

You’ll need to get, and provide, a lot of information to ensure you’re well matched to an available position. You will likely need to discuss this decision with your loved ones, and you can withdraw from the process later if you choose to.

For this effort, Avaaz is working with Partners In Health, Save the Children, and International Medical Corps, three of the leading organisations fighting this deadly disease.

We are also consulting with the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and the World Health Organization.

While there is substantial risk, there are also clear ways to contain that risk. 

Ebola is spread through bodily fluids, so with extreme care, the risk of contracting it can be minimized.

So far, 94 health care workers have died of Ebola in Liberia, but almost all of them have been national health workers, who are far less well equipped than international volunteers. 

With treatment, the chances of surviving the virus are better than 50%.

Many of us, from police to activists to soldiers, have jobs that involve risking our lives for our country.

It’s the most powerful statement we can make about what’s worth living for. Taking this risk to fight Ebola, makes a statement that our fellow human beings, wherever they are, are worth living for:

If Ebola spirals further out of control, it could soon threaten us all. The fact that a weak health care system in a small country can let this monster grow to a size that threatens the world is a powerful statement of just how interdependent we are. But this interdependence is far more than just interests.

We are connected, all of us, in a community of human beings.

All the lies that have divided us – about nation and religion and sexuality – are being torn down, and we are realizing that we really are one people, one tribe. 

That a young mother and her daughter in Liberia fear the same things and love the same things as a young mother and her daughter in Brazil, or the Netherlands.

And in this unfolding understanding, a new world is being born.

Out of the darkest places come our brightest lights.

Out of the depths of the Ebola nightmare, let’s bring the hope of a new world of one people, willing to give, and sacrifice, for each other.

With hope and determination,

Ricken, John, Alice, Danny, and the whole Avaaz team.

Note:  See the video

Fighting Ebola street by street

Good people are all around the globe! Disasters too –

Thanks Ben C. Solomon for this great video about ‪#‎ebola‬ –
Sean Casey makes me think of u and all the great work u and ur colleagues are doing!http://www.nytimes.com/video/world/africa/100000003161313/fighting-ebola-outbreak-street-by-street.html?playlistId=100000003105684&region=video-grid&version=video-grid-headline&contentCollection=Ebola+Outbreak&contentPlacement=0&module=featured-videos&action=click&pgType=Multimedia&eventName=video-grid-click

More information:

Up to 1.4m people could be infected with Ebola by January, CDC warns (The Guardian)
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/23/ebola-cdc-millions-infected-quarantine-africa-epidemi…

Known Cases and Outbreaks of Ebola Virus Disease, in Chronological Order (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/history/chronology.html

Ebola ‘devouring everything in its path’ (Al Jazeera)
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/09/ebola-devouring-everything-path-201499161646914388.html

Ebola death rates 70% – WHO study (BBC)
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29327741

Unprecedented number of medical staff infected with Ebola (WHO)
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/ebola/25-august-2014/en/

Iraqi Birth Defects: Usage of depleted uranium shells for years

I watched a documentary on the cable ARTE yesterday on the birth defects suffered by babies in Iraq after the US invasion of 2003.

And today Hot Posts is disseminating what Rania Khalek wrote. This is a reblog with minor editing. 

Rania Khalek posted on March 20, 2013 in her blog “Dispatches from the underclass”

The United States may have finished dropping bombs on Iraq, but Iraqi bodies and babies will be dealing with the consequences for generations to come in the form of birth defects, mysterious illnesses and skyrocketing cancer rates.

Al Jazeera’s Dahr Jamail reports that contamination from U.S. weapons, particularly Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions, has led to an Iraqi health crisis of epic proportions.

Children being born with two heads, children born with only one eye, multiple tumors  disfiguring facial and body deformities, and complex nervous system problems…” are just some of the congenital birth defects being linked to military-related pollution.

In certain Iraqi cities, the health consequences are significantly worse than those seen in the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Japan at the end of WWII.

(Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera])

(Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera])

The highest rates are in the city of Fallujah, which underwent two massive US bombing campaigns in 2004.

Though the U.S. initially denied it, officials later admitted using white phosphorus (like what Israel used on Gaza).

In addition, U.S. and British forces unleashed an estimated 2,000 tons of depleted uranium ammunition in populated Iraqi cities in 2003.

DU, a chemically toxic heavy metal produced in nuclear waste, is used in weapons due to its ability to pierce through armor.

That’s why the US and UK were among a handful of nations (France and Israel) who in December refused to sign an international agreement to limit its use, insisting DU is not harmful, science be damned.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s refusal to release details about where DU munitions were fired has made it difficult to clean up.

Today, 14.7% of Fallujah’s babies are born with a birth defect, 14 times the documented rate in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Fallujah’s babies have also experienced heart defects 13 times the European rate and nervous system defects 33 times that of Europe.

That comes on top of a 12-fold rise in childhood cancer rates since 2004.

The male-to-female birth ratio is now 86 boys for every 100 girls, indicating genetic damage that affects males more than females.

(Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera)

(Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera)

(On a side note, these pictures are rather sanitized compared to other even more difficult to look at images. See here if you can bear it.)

If Fallujah is the Iraqi Hiroshima, then Basra is its Nagasaki counterpart.

According to a study published in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, a professional journal based in the southwestern German city of Heidelberg, there was a 7 fold increase in the number of birth defects in Basra between 1994 and 2003.

According to the Heidelberg study, the concentration of lead in the milk teeth of sick children from Basra was almost 3 times as high as comparable values in areas where there was no fighting.

In addition, never before has such a high rate of neural tube defects (“open back”) been recorded in babies as in Basra, and the rate continues to rise. According to the study, the number of hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”) cases among new-born is 6 times as high in Basra as it is in the United States.

These phenomenon are not isolated to Fallujah and Basra. The overall Iraqi cancer rate has also skyrocketed:

Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, the rate of cancer cases in Iraq was 40 out of 100,000 people.

By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and, by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing.

As Grist’s Susie Cagle points out, “That’s potentially a more than 4,000% increase in the cancer rate, making it more than 500 percent higher than the cancer rate in the U.S.

Dr. Mozghan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, told Jamail that “These observations collectively suggest an extraordinary public health emergency in Iraq. Such a crisis requires urgent multifaceted international action to prevent further damage to public health.”(

Dr. Samira Alani/Al Jazeera)

Instead, the international community, including the nation most responsible for the health crisis is mostly ignoring the problem.

To make matters worse, Iraq’s healthcare system, which was once the envy of the region, is virtually nonexistent due to the mass exodus of Iraq’s medical doctors since 2003.

According to recent estimates, there are currently fewer than 100 psychiatrists and 20,0000 physicians serving a population of 31 million Iraqis.

Dahr Jamail was on Democracy Now this morning discussing the horrific effects of military-related pollution in Iraq:

Yanar Mohammad, President of the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq was also on Democracy Now and addressed the toxic legacy of birth defects in Iraq. (I interviewed Mohammed for a piece I wrote for Muftah about the deterioration of Iraqi women’s rights since the invasion, which you can read here.

)https://www.youtube.com/embed/5eBgRcgLNW0?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent 

How childhood trauma seriously affects health across a lifetime?

In the mid-’90s, the CDC and Kaiser Permanente discovered an exposure that dramatically increased the risk for 7 out of 10 of the leading causes of death in the United States.

In high doses (of  childhood trauma ), it affects brain development, the immune system, hormonal systems, and even the way our DNA is read and transcribed.

Folks who are exposed in very high doses have triple the lifetime risk of heart disease and lung cancer and a 20-year difference in life expectancy.

And yet, doctors today are not trained in routine screening or treatment. 

The exposure I’m talking about is not a pesticide or a packaging chemical. It’s childhood trauma.

By Nadine Burke Harris

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.

What kind of trauma am I talking about here? I’m not talking about failing a test or losing a basketball game. 

I am talking about threats that are so severe or pervasive that they literally get under our skin and change our physiology: things like abuse, neglect, or growing up with a parent who struggles with mental illness or substance dependence.  (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

For a long time, I viewed these things in the way I was trained to view them, either as a social problem — refer to social services — or as a mental health problem — refer to mental health services.

And then something happened to make me rethink my entire approach.

When I finished my residency, I wanted to go someplace where I felt really needed, someplace where I could make a difference. So I came to work for California Pacific Medical Center, one of the best private hospitals in Northern California.

 Together, we opened a clinic in Bayview-Hunters Point, one of the poorest, most underserved neighborhoods in San Francisco.

Prior to that point, there had been only one pediatrician in all of Bayview to serve more than 10,000 children, so we hung a shingle, and we were able to provide top-quality care regardless of ability to pay. It was so cool.

We targeted the typical health disparities: access to care, immunization rates, asthma hospitalization rates, and we hit all of our numbers. We felt very proud of ourselves.

And I started noticing a disturbing trend. A lot of kids were being referred to me for ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but when I actually did a thorough history and physical, what I found was that for most of my patients, I couldn’t make a diagnosis of ADHD.

Most of the kids I was seeing had experienced such severe trauma that it felt like something else was going on. Somehow I was missing something important.

Before I did my residency, I did a master’s degree in public health, and one of the things that they teach you in public health school is that if you’re a doctor and you see 100 kids that all drink from the same well, and 98 of them develop diarrhea, you can go ahead and write that prescription for dose after dose after dose of antibiotics, or you can walk over and say, “What the hell is in this well?”

So I began reading everything that I could get my hands on about how exposure to adversity affects the developing brains and bodies of children.

And then one day, my colleague walked into my office, and he said, “Dr. Burke, have you seen this?” In his hand was a copy of a research study called the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.

That day changed my clinical practice and ultimately my career.

 The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study is something that everybody needs to know about. It was done by Dr. Vince Felitti at Kaiser and Dr. Bob Anda at the CDC. Together, they asked 17,500 adults about their history of exposure to what they called “adverse childhood experiences,” or ACEs.

Those include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; physical or emotional neglect; parental mental illness, substance dependence, incarceration; parental separation or divorce; or domestic violence.

For every yes, you would get a point on your ACE score. And then what they did was they correlated these ACE scores against health outcomes. What they found was striking.

Two things:

Number one, ACEs are incredibly common. 67% of the population had at least one ACE, and 12.6%, one in eight, had four or more ACEs.

The second thing that they found was that there was a dose-response relationship between ACEs and health outcomes: the higher your ACE score, the worse your health outcomes.

For a person with an ACE score of four or more, their relative risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was two and a half times that of someone with an ACE score of zero.

For hepatitis, it was also two and a half times. For depression, it was four and a half times.

For suicide tendency, it was 12 times.

A person with an ACE score of 7 or more had triple the lifetime risk of lung cancer and three and a half times the risk of ischemic heart disease, the number one killer in the United States of America.

This makes sense.

Some people looked at this data and they said, “Come on. You have a rough childhood, you’re more likely to drink and smoke and do all these things that are going to ruin your health. This isn’t science. This is just bad behavior.”

It turns out this is exactly where the science comes in.

We now understand better than we ever have before how exposure to early adversity affects the developing brains and bodies of children.

1. It affects areas like the nucleus accumbens, the pleasure and reward center of the brain that is implicated in substance dependence.

2. It inhibits the prefrontal cortex, which is necessary for impulse control and executive function, a critical area for learning.

3. And on MRI scans, we see measurable differences in the amygdala, the brain’s fear response center.

So there are real neurologic reasons why folks exposed to high doses of adversity are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior, and that’s important to know.

But it turns out that even if you don’t engage in any high-risk behavior, you’re still more likely to develop heart disease or cancer. 

The reason for this has to do with the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, the brain’s and body’s stress response system that governs our fight-or-flight response.

How does it work? Well, imagine you’re walking in the forest and you see a bear. Immediately, your hypothalamus sends a signal to your pituitary, which sends a signal to your adrenal gland that says, “Release stress hormones! Adrenaline! Cortisol!” 

And so your heart starts to pound, your pupils dilate, your airways open up, and you are ready to either fight that bear or run from the bear.

That is wonderful if you’re in a forest and there’s a bear. (Laughter) But the problem is what happens when the bear comes home every night, and this system is activated over and over and over again, and it goes from being adaptive, or life-saving, to maladaptive, or health-damaging?

Children are especially sensitive to this repeated stress activation, because their brains and bodies are just developing. 

High doses of adversity not only affect brain structure and function, they affect the developing immune system, developing hormonal systems, and even the way our DNA is read and transcribed.

For me, this information threw my old training out the window, because when we understand the mechanism of a disease, when we know not only which pathways are disrupted, but how, then as doctors, it is our job to use this science for prevention and treatment. That’s what we do.

So in San Francisco, we created the Center for Youth Wellness to prevent, screen and heal the impacts of ACEs and toxic stress.

We started simply with routine screening of every one of our kids at their regular physical, because I know that :

1. if my patient has an ACE score of 4, she’s two and a half times as likely to develop hepatitis or COPD, she’s four and half times as likely to become depressed, and she’s 12 times as likely to attempt to take her own life as my patient with zero ACEs.

2. I know that when she’s in my exam room.

For our patients who do screen positive, we have a multidisciplinary treatment team that works to reduce the dose of adversity and treat symptoms using best practices, including home visits, care coordination, mental health care, nutrition, holistic interventions, and yes, medication when necessary.

But we also educate parents about the impacts of ACEs and toxic stress the same way you would for covering electrical outlets, or lead poisoning, and we tailor the care of our asthmatics and our diabetics in a way that recognizes that they may need more aggressive treatment, given the changes to their hormonal and immune systems.

So the other thing that happens when you understand this science is that you want to shout it from the rooftops, because this isn’t just an issue for kids in Bayview.

I figured the minute that everybody else heard about this, it would be routine screening, multi-disciplinary treatment teams, and it would be a race to the most effective clinical treatment protocols.

Yeah. That did not happen. And that was a huge learning for me.

What I had thought of as simply best clinical practice I now understand to be a movement.

In the words of Dr. Robert Block, the former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Adverse childhood experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today.”

And for a lot of people, that’s a terrifying prospect. The scope and scale of the problem seems so large that it feels overwhelming to think about how we might approach it.

But for me, that’s actually where the hopes lies, because when we have the right framework, when we recognize this to be a public health crisis, then we can begin to use the right tool kit to come up with solutions.

From tobacco to lead poisoning to HIV/AIDS, the United States actually has quite a strong track record with addressing public health problems, but replicating those successes with ACEs and toxic stress is going to take determination and commitment, and when I look at what our nation’s response has been so far, I wonder, why haven’t we taken this more seriously?

At first I thought that we marginalized the issue because it doesn’t apply to us. That’s an issue for those kids in those neighborhoods. Which is weird, because the data doesn’t bear that out.

The original ACEs study was done in a population that was 70 percent Caucasian, 70% college-educated.

But then, the more I talked to folks, I’m beginning to think that maybe I had it completely backwards. If I were to ask how many people in this room grew up with a family member who suffered from mental illness, I bet a few hands would go up.

And then if I were to ask how many folks had a parent who maybe drank too much, or who really believed that if you spare the rod, you spoil the child, I bet a few more hands would go up.

Even in this room, this is an issue that touches many of us, and I am beginning to believe that we marginalize the issue because it does apply to us. Maybe it’s easier to see in other zip codes because we don’t want to look at it. We’d rather be sick.

 Fortunately, scientific advances and, frankly, economic realities make that option less viable every day. The science is clear: Early adversity dramatically affects health across a lifetime.

Today, we are beginning to understand how to interrupt the progression from early adversity to disease and early death, and 30 years.

From now, the child who has a high ACE score and whose behavioral symptoms go unrecognized, whose asthma management is not connected, and who goes on to develop high blood pressure and early heart disease or cancer will be just as anomalous as a six-month mortality from HIV/AIDS.

People will look at that situation and say, “What the heck happened there?” This is treatable. This is beatable. The single most important thing that we need today is the courage to look this problem in the face and say, this is real and this is all of us. I believe that


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

April 2021
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