Poverty is a nightmare for the CDC

Whoever is working healthcare at the LATimes is really carrying it, despite that, as you may have noticed, the paper Times is looking a little anorexic lately.

First on Tuesday, a story that would shock anyone not familiar with the world of public health: poor Americans, especially those in urban poverty (again, thank you CDC), immigrant populations, those on the frontera and Shlomo’s favorite buzz-region, Appalachia. These so-called “neglected infections of poverty”—how catchy—are pathogens and parasites that are literally not seen outside the 3rd world, which partially merits their inclusion here.

This is not bedbugs on the MTA platform we’re talking about. This is Chagas. This is Dengue. Hemorrhagic Dengue Fever. In American ghettos.

It’s not just the disease list that should be startling. According to an abstract of the report:

“Preliminary disease burden estimates of the neglected infections of poverty indicate that tens of thousands, or in some cases, hundreds of thousands of poor Americans harbor these chronic infections, which represent some of the greatest health disparities in the United States”

(you can read the full txt  here)

Then, today, the Times comes back again with a report on hospitals, that, to anyone who has navigated the American HMO system, will also not be shocking. And yet it should be, precisely because it’s another glaring example of how sick healthcare is in this country. Sick not only because our increasingly high rates of diabetes, heart disease and other preventable illnesses will make our generation the first in American history to die earlier than our parents, and not because our incredibly poor health will cost this country in the billions, if not the trillions of dollars, but because all these factors (access to good food, safe places for recreation, proper sanitation and hygiene, safe hospitals, preventative care, dental and eye care, and believe me the list goes on ) are increasingly only available to the very rich, and then not even really.

The article recaps a government report comparing hospitals nationwide based on whether or not patients with pneumonia survived them. What the Offices of statewide planning and health know is that pneumonia is a good barometer of the overall health of a hospital, because its both common and deadly, and though different populations (the sick, old, poor, and incarcerated, vs. the rich, healthy, young and free) suffer different types and at different rates, pneumonia is something everybody gets.

Score: 2 LAT: 0 American Healthcare System


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