Health news in 2001

by Rebecca Huber

Overshadowed by the tragedy of September 11th, most other kinds of news, including medical news of 2001, fell on the last pages of the papers and magazines or was just not published at all -- and rightly so. But vigilant as ever were all those in the world of medicine and healing, extending a helping hand to those in need. Quietly and gently listening, stroking, wiping away a tear, sharing all and receiving in return the blessing of knowing they made a difference.

All kinds of health professionals converged on Ground Zero to help, including massage therapists, working their special magic on those who needed it the most, the New York City firefighters. The touch of caring hands helped rescue those who did the rescuing. I have had more people say to me since that day, they had no idea massage had such healing power.

Many times a tragedy of this magnitude will bring about new innovations in medicine. When medicine brought the operating room theater to the front lines of war with mobile army surgical hospital (MASH) units, many lives were saved through the innovative use of new surgical instrumentation and techniques. It remains to be seen if similar innovations will come from the current case. We can only hope.

President Bush cut off all funding for family planning clinics that support choices for women. This will only make for more women facing pregnancy alone and without support. Family planning clinics are not just about abortion.

Stem cell research did make it into the news frequently in spite of 9/11. It truly is the brave new world of medicine. To ignore or not fund this research will only cause research groups in this country to pull up stakes and move overseas where they would be welcomed with open arms. Its opponents would have you believe it's some black work of the devil. Ignorance, always the enemy!

The drug companies are at it as usual, bashing any kind of natural product. They have no shame! The statistics remain the same -- there are more hospitalizations and deaths in this country from the (seemingly) appropriate use of prescribed drugs than any other single cause.

They claim the high prices they charge are for research and development -- the development of deeper pockets! I don't think the average American including myself has any idea what their advertising budget must be.

A two-page article in the December issue of Ladies Home Journal claimed the three most common natural remedies for colds -- Echinacea, zinc and vitamin C -- were completely worthless. Oh yes, and then down in the corner in bright yellow with brighter lettering: ''Real help on the way: drug company to market new drug to cure the common cold'' -- more on this later.

As for resolutions, how about taking care of the single most important asset you have -- your health. It may not make the national news, but your health is a gift, one that can usually be improved upon.

Happy New Year. Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online December 24, 2001

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