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California Hospital Investigated For Unusually High Number Of Kwashiorkor Diagnoses

Kwashiorkor in Niger

Is it plausible that one small hospital in rural Northern California treated 1,030 cases of Kwashiorkor within a two year period?

Before you answer that, let me explain what Kwashiorkor is.  It is a severe form of protein malnutrition…starving to death actually.  It is the type of starvation you see in African children.  It is so severe that the patient needs special nutritional support including special re-feeding with vitamins and it occurs mainly in children ages 1-4.   Adults can starve to death, but they do not develop classic Kwashiorkor.

Medicare pays hospitals a flat rate based on diagnosis codes for patients.  Patients with more severe coded illnesses get paid at a much higher rate.  Shasta Regional Medical Center, located in Redding, Shasta County, California is under the microscope for billing Medicare (our tax dollars at work) for 1,030 cases of Kwashiorkor to the tune of $11,463 for each diagnosis.  This medical center is Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Advancement In Research For A Safer Yellow Fever Vaccine

Paperwork proving administration of a yellow fever vaccine.Yellow fever is an affliction caused by a potentially lethal viral (flavivirus) hemorrhagic (causes bleeding) virus common in parts of Africa and South America. A highly effective vaccine made from live virus (known as the “17D vaccine”) is currently used to inject persons to prevent yellow fever; this vaccine is known to rarely cause serious adverse effects, namely, onset of allergic reactions, or a life-threatening or fatal infection that resembles yellow fever.

So, there is need for a safer (“nonreplicating”—in other words, not based on live virus) vaccine. In a recent article, “An Inactivated Cell-Culture Vaccine against Yellow Fever,” Thomas Monath, MD and his coauthors described their experience with a potentially safer vaccine (NEJM, 2011;364:1326-33). In their study, Read more »

This post, Advancement In Research For A Safer Yellow Fever Vaccine, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

WHO Partners With Traditional Healers In Africa

There’s an AIDS epidemic in Africa, and efforts to fight it are hampered by the endemic social problems of that continent. Chief among them are the lack of sufficient modern health resources, the spread of destructive rumors and myths about HIV/AIDS, and even the persistence of HIV denial in Africa (although this last factor is better than in the past).

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance are teaming up with the Traditional Health Practitioners Association of Zambia (THPAZ) to address the first problem –- the lack of health services.

Most Zambians use traditional healers for primary healthcare. The WHO has therefore decided to utilize traditional healers in the fight against AIDS. There are interesting pros and cons to this policy, but it must first be recognized that there is no ideal solution to the problem. The resources to provide optimal modern health care to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS (which would need to include a massive education program) in Zambia and the rest of Africa simply do not exist. One might argue that the world should provide those resources, but let’s put that issue aside and focus on what to do in the meantime. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

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