Healthcare

December 3 marks the 30th anniversary of the horrific Bhopal gas disaster. It also marks 30 years of relentless struggle for justice by survivors. The city of Bhopal, capital of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, was the site of a pesticide plant run by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) subsidiary of the US-based Union Carbide Corporation. UC became a subsidiary of Dow Chemicals in 2001.
When Thomas Eric Duncan died on October 8, shortly after his arrival from Liberia, west Africa, the Ebola crisis burst onto millions of news screens in the United States, generating deep levels of fear and xenophobia. To be sure, Ebola is a serious health concern, for it has a 70% mortality rate. But, to beat back the fear, public officials have been playing down the threats posed by the virus, often armed with little more than hope and false confidence. For politics, often more imagery than reality, is a poor barrier against the seriousness of viruses, disease and death.
Stasi Hell or Workers’ Paradise? Socialism in the German Democratic Republic ― What Can We Learn From It? John Green & Bruni de la Motte Artery Publications, 2009 50 pp., $7.25 Red Love: The Story of an East German Family Maxim Leo Pushkin Press, 2013 272 pp., $31.60 The German Democratic Republic (GDR) disappeared a quarter of a century ago after 41 years’ existence. The East German state is mostly remembered as “Stasiland”, as Anna Funder’s history of its secret police is called.
In keeping with its crusade to privatise every public activity it can get away with, the Australian government has outsourced the management of an Ebola treatment hospital in Sierra Leone to private provider Aspen Medical. Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on November 5 that the government would allocate $20 million to operate a British-built facility in the West African country over the next eight months.
The Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) held a hearing on October 29 to allow the community to express their views on Incitec’s proposal to build an ammonium nitrate production facility in Newcastle. All 18 speakers slammed the proposal as presenting an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic explosion that could threaten the lives of thousands of people in the city. Speakers ranged from explosives expert Tony Richards to the Socialist Alliance, the Greens, and several community groups from Stockton and Mayfield, as well as members of the public.
Australian-based company OceanaGold is suing El Salvador for US$301 million for its “right” to continue operating a gold mine that is destroying the Central American nation's water supply. The El Dorado goldmine was originally owned by Canadian company Pacific Rim, which became a wholly-owned subsidiary of OceanaGold last year. The Australian company is continuing Pacific Rim's lawsuit, suing the Salvadoran government over a moratorium on mining permits. In 2008, the right-wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA) government was forced by public demand to issue the moratorium.
Representatives from more than 30 countries across the Americas met in Havana on October 29 to discuss a regional plan of action to combat Ebola. The specialists and government representatives were invited by the anti-imperialist Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) bloc to exchange experiences and create prevention strategies to address the Ebola virus. ALBA was formed in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela to promote pro-people regional integration and now has eight nations.
At the same time as the United States government has responded to the Ebola crisis in west Africa by sending soldiers ― and the Australian government by refusing to send any medical personnel at all ― Cuba has sent 460 medical personnel to affected countries. In his regular column, reprinted from the Cuban News Agency, former Cuban president Fidel Castro explained Cuba's response. ***
The ebola outbreak in West Africa is "unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times", World Health Organisation (WHO) director general Dr Margaret Chan said on October 14.
The administration of Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren celebrated its 100th day in office last month, taking the chance to report on actions taken to advance towards equality. Among the achievements of the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) administration is the opening of 43 new community health clinics, along with the first specialised pharmacy for patients with chronic illnesses.
St Louis officer shoots unarmed Black teen ― yes, again “Angry protests erupted again in St. Louis on Wednesday night after an 18-year-old man was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer ― reigniting tensions in a city still reeling from the killing of Mike Brown in nearby Ferguson in August …
Cuba said it will send nearly 300 more doctors and nurses to West Africa to help fight the Ebola epidemic, Al Jazeera reported on September 26. The Cubans will work in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, Regla Angulo, head of the Cuban medical relief agency said in a statement that day. Al Jazeera said: “The announcement means that up to 461 Cuban medical personnel would have been sent to help address the epidemic spreading across West Africa.