Health

A catastrophic failure to act

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As the Ebola crisis continues to rage across West Africa, Tokunbo Oke recalls the history of colonialism and neoliberal policies, which has ravaged the continent and left many states unable to withstand the epidemic.

The current Ebola crisis has been running for seven months — yet you would not know that from the media coverage in the West. The epidemic has only become a major concern since US and European citizens have become victims. British nurse William Pooley, who has returned to Sierra Leone to help victims having recovered from Ebola himself, has been rightly hailed for his heroism. But the deaths of several hundred African doctors and nurses from the disease so far have been virtually ignored.

The drugs don't work

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The World Health Organisation (who) warned in April of the “devastating” potential impacts of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria. Before they were used widely in the 1950s, minor infections could become serious or even fatal.

They are also vital for surgery and for preventing people from getting ill when their ability to fight infection is weakened during cancer treatment.

But the more they are used, the more opportunity there is for bacteria to evolve into resistant “superbugs” like MRSA.

The Last Asylum

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In a culture where mental illness still carries much stigma Barbara Taylor’s memoir is an important book about pain and treatment.

Taylor, a biographer of Mary Wollstonecraft, describes her agonising journey of mental collapse. In the 1980s she began psychoanalysis in order to seek help for her anxiety, depression, insomnia and drinking.

She was admitted to Friern mental asylum — the largest asylum in Europe which closed its doors in 1993, a year after Taylor was discharged.

NHS struggle of life and death

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Healthcare under capitalism has always been a contest between the needs of workers and desires of capital, and now the National Health Service faces its biggest battle ever.

The appointment of Simon Stevens, a top executive from the largest US private healthcare firm, United Healthcare (and former health adviser to Tony Blair), to be the new chief executive of the National Health Service (NHS) will do more than send a shiver down the spine of all 50,000 campaigners who marched magnificently in Manchester in September.

Defending the NHS: the lessons of 1988

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When 37 night nurses walked out at the end of their shift at North Manchester General Hospital in January 1988 they made an immediate impact. Images of uniformed nurses on a picket line dominated the TV evening news and newspapers the next day.

But this was not a spontaneous action. The hospital had a strong joint union committee which included socialists, and a tradition of militancy. It had discussed how workers could respond to a major offensive by the Thatcher government on NHS pay and conditions. The NUPE union representative for the night staff organised the walkout to highlight threatened cuts to special duty payments.

Hagel faces up to contradictions in the US economy

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At the beginning of this month another major package of cuts was due to began taking its toll on the US economy.

Though it lacks some of the drama of the so-called "fiscal cliff" that caused so much Congressional chaos at the end of last year, this latest bout of fiscal tightening isn't lacking in severity. Unlike previous mandatory cuts packages, this "sequestration" of funds, originally put forward by President Obama in August 2011, is due to kick in gradually over the next ten years. This will involve budget cuts amounting to an eye-watering $1.2 trillion.

Barcelona's hospital occupations

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Health workers in Barcelona have occupied their hospital in protest against cuts.
Jonathan Collier reports

Health workers at the Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona have been in occupation since 28 November.

The action at Sant Pau has been the catalyst for developing anti-cuts movements, involving neighbourhood and other activist groups, at hospitals throughout Catalunya. Occupations have sprung up at the region's biggest hospital, Vall d'Hebrón, and the Clínic Hospital.

The NHS Bill: a blueprint for destruction

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The government is in serious trouble over its plans for the National Health Service. Gill George explains exactly how the bill is intended to destroy the NHS as we know it

The government is in serious trouble over its plans for the National Health Service. Gill George explains exactly how the bill is intended to destroy the NHS as we know it

Just before the general election David Cameron promised that there would be "no more top-down reorganisation of the NHS". This was a straight lie. The Tories' attempt to dismantle the NHS has been a long time in the planning.

Unhealthy Bill

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Cameron's supposed retreat on the Health Bill and the resulting incandescent splutterings of Alan Milburn reveal splits within the ruling class and the vulnerability of the Con-Dem Government.

However, we must not be complacent. While the report of the NHS Future Forum has made some helpful recommendations it still falls way short of safeguarding the NHS from further encroachment by the private sector.

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