Out of touch, some might say


Since when did ensuring adequate child nutrition and well-being become ‘unnecessary spending’ or a ‘giveaway’?

These views came after the government announcement that free school meals will now be made available to all children under 7. Nick Clegg apparently had to push the Tory led coalition to accepting what one senior tory describe as “an appalling waste of £600million of taxpayers’ money” (out-of-touch, some might say).

For the family orientated press I’d assume this would have been a triumph for common sense. For the financially led papers, a catapult to future economic growth and prosperity. But no, ideology or utter bollocks prevails over all.

The World Bank’s Nutrition Overview, states, “The economic cost of under-nutrition, in terms of lost national productivity and economic growth, are enormous. Countries can lose between 2 to 3 percent of their potential GDP each year.”

Furthermore a Harvard School of Public Health study says, pursuing economic growth top-down without corresponding direct investments in health and health-related programmes “has little effect on child nutrition”; in other words, economic growth has not helped child nutrition – thus having little effect on long-term sustained economic growth. So how are we going to secure economic prosperity 20 years from now?

Some people have asked, how can we afford it? But how can we afford not to do it?


From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbour


In my Challenges of Global Poverty course provided by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo at MIT, the last week briefly covered health; provision, success policy etc. One of the most interesting parts discussed was that people often want a drip or shot, to over-medicate themselves, when in fact a course of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories or even less would do the trick. They have previously been given a shot by some backstreet doctor, as this is all they had access to (think barber surgeons in Victorian Britain). This isn’t only attributable to developing countries but to developed countries and not only in critical healthcare but what could be loosely described as a consumer product.

I draw parallels with a situation discussed in From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War by Jerry Della Femina, the book that inspired Mad Men. In it he describes the introduction of a new antiseptic fluid, like Dettol (it might have been dettol, I need to revisit it). This new Dettol unlike it’s predecessor didn’t sting, but had all the benefits. That’s a good thing, they’re on to a winner, right? No.

It bombed; no one wanted this product! The sting, that brief moment of pain reassures the patient, the user, the consumer that it is working, that everything is going to be alright.

If over many years you have been taught or have experienced one particular situation and formed a solid perception of this ‘reality’, regardless of the authority of whomever is telling you it is wrong, that perception and the resulting behaviour will be extremely difficult to change. This equally applies to anyone of any economic or educational background and multiple contexts as it is only human nature.

Human nature is a bitch to break, but as a child I was known to my Mother as ‘The Destroyer’.

Private Healthcare Bollocks

I said I’d offer you some images of my injury and recover, but in all honesty they’re more boring than the rest of my posts. There is just a collection of bruises around my knee and calf and the scars are nothing special. It looks rather like I’m the victim of domestic violence and the inflicter was a rather stocky but equally revolting little chihuahua.

However my recovery isn’t going great. I could walk now I can’t. The reason; we don’t fully know. Now I don’t expect it to be the plot of some sci-fi movie, where the reason I can’t walk is that aliens have planned an invasion and have made me an invalid because I’m the only one that can save planet Earth, even though that would be awesome (assuming all is resolved and I get the girl) but I’m surprised that private healthcare isn’t able or willing to fully identify what is wrong with me.

They believe I’ve had some bleeding and that clotted blood is around my calf, increasing pressure and causing me pain, and locking my calf in place, preventing me from walking. But this hasn’t been identified, no MRI scan or ultrasound has been proposed. What they are doing is treating the symptoms, so I’ve had antibiotics, pain relief and a massage. I’m guessing they make more money that way and I’m no better as a result. If anything it’s gotten worse.

I can’t see my consultant until next week and I still can’t walk. This is bullshit.