Access to Vital Medicine: What We Need to Know

Meta: Lack of access to vital medicine is a serious public health issue worldwide. Read on to learn about the actual problems, the role of duty-bearers, and potential solutions.

According to a 2012 study, more than two-thirds of the world population living in the developing and underdeveloped countries have no access to vital medicine. While this may seem just like another stat on paper, the real-time scenario is far worse than you can ever imagine.


Can you imagine someone dying from simple diarrhea or a common cold? This is what is actually happening in the developing world. Therefore, such a dire situation warrants immediate attention from every stakeholder which includes national governments, theinternational community, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Access to Vital Medicine: What Are the Problems?

Despite some serious efforts to ensure access to vital medicine, certain problems still persist. In fact, public health in the developing world is marred by two principal factors. They are:

  • Drug shortage
  • Low-quality drugs that fail to deliver the expected treatment outcomes

Whenever we talk of about vital medicine, the key determinants of its accessibility are its cost and effectiveness. No doubt, the WHO has a list of essential medicines. The selection of medicines on the list is based on their cost and effectiveness. But the real problem occurs when these drugs are not available in local healthcare organizations. Many factors influence this. For example, geographical location (aproblem for a landlocked country), pricing issues, lack of storage facilities, and socioeconomic conditions of a particular nation.

Let’s take an example. A local governmental health organization has enough vital medicine, but when the patient reaches the facility to seek help, the medicines are already degraded due to poor storage conditions. This case is more relevant to vaccines that need to be stored at a certain temperature to maintain their potency and efficacy.

Take another example. Political instability and worsening social conditions cause medicine delivery delay. It is very unfortunate that many developing countries have piles of medicines lying somewhere in the warehouse.

Regrettably, this is just the tip of the iceberg and more complex situations prevent the impoverished citizens from getting their basic healthcare needs fulfilled. In fact, this is a major blow to the international law that states everyone has the same right to health.

Aftermath of Lack of Access to Vital Medicine

When people cannot get access to vital medicine, they turn to private pharmacy services. As a result, they have to pay a greater amount for the same medicine which would otherwise be available at a minimal cost. Moreover, the quality of the medicine on the market often comes under scrutiny.

Altogether, such a situation only complicates the matter, putting a big question on the roles of local government and NGOs.

How to Improve Access to Vital Medicine

As a matter of fact, this is one of the most difficult questions to answer. Even if we find an answer, everything is not going to be fine overnight. It will take decades before the people get access to vital medicine.

Here, we attempt to explore the roles of key stakeholders.

  • The role of the local government. Naturally, it is the duty of the local government to ensure their citizens are getting access to vital medicine. In essence, they are the primary duty bearer. If they do not work to resolve the issue, there is no point blaming the international community or the NGOs. It is commonly seen that the governments of poor countries spend only a small fraction of the budget in healthcare. Experts believe if a country spends 15% of the national budget on healthcare, the poor people will have no major problems getting their health needs fulfilled. Unfortunately, this is something which many poor people can only imagine. The reality is different–in fact, harsh. To solve this issue, in part, economists recommend cutting down taxes on medicines so that the end-user prices reduce by a huge margin.
  • The role of theinternational The rich nations approve certain amounts to fund the healthcare needs of the poor people. But, at times, problems arise when they fail to live up to their commitments. Cutting funds will have a major impact on how healthcare organizations in poor countries function. Therefore, it is very important that the international community respects the declarations and joint agreements.
  • The role of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs are often regarded as the bridge that connects the donor nations with a country’s public healthcare organizations. Their role is even more crucial considering they come in a direct contact with the patients. Not only this, they also play a major role in raising health awareness, disease prevention, and general health maintenance. Unfortunately, many NGOs are focused only on specific diseases such HIV/AIDS or TB. This seriously impacts how people with other diseases get access to vital medicine. For this reason, Millennium Declaration recommends a wider area of work for the NGOs.


Key Takeaways

  • Lack of access to vital medicine is a serious global health issue. More than 2 billion people in developing countries lack access to vital medicine.
  • The major causes of an inadequate access to vital medicine are drug shortage, low-quality drug, and socioeconomic and political scenario in the state.
  • Local government, theinternationalcommunity, and NGOs are accountable stakeholders. The list is in decreasing order of responsibility. Other minor stakeholders are pharmaceutical companies.
  • The most effective solution for this problem is a collaborative effort among the major stakeholders.

Want To Know More?

To learn more about access to vital medicine and its impact on global health, visit Also, gain unlimited access to a myriad of other benefits. Readers can find evidence-based health information with just a click. Driven by the aim to provide authentic information about diseases, drugs, supplements, medical procedures, and lifestyle tips to all its visitors, and CEO Anthony Casimano allow visitors to read about the best doctors locally. Readers can choose the doctor that best meets their unique health needs, and request to schedule an appointment instantly.

Bath Salt Abuse

The drugs widely sold as bath salts, and other similar names, are alleged to produce dramatic effects in their users. Perhaps one of the most famous incidents of apparent bath salt abuse involved a spate of horrific attacks, including cannibalism.

These instances were widely reported as being caused by these drugs, but after further information was unveiled, there was no evidence of bath salt abuse found in these cases. As a result, these drugs were widely maligned with little real evidence, and numerous myths have sprung up about their use. The facts about bath salts are disturbing on their own, but further investigation found that there was no evidence they cause “zombie-like” behavior.


The basis of these drugs lies in the khat plant, a shrub that grows in east Africa and parts of the Arabian peninsula. The plant produces cathinones, which act in a similar way to amphetamines. They act as stimulants on the central nervous system.

Signs and Symptoms

As with most stimulants, bath salt use leads to:

  • Rapid heart rate.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Dilated pupils.

This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke during even short-term use. Bath salts have been associated with headaches and palpitations in a significant number of users. Increased sexual stimulation has been associated with bath salts, potentially leading to risky sexual activities.

Mephedrone (Meow)


Physical symptoms are not the only signs of bath salt use, however. If a loved one is using bath salts, you might notice that he has lost his appetite and no longer eats as much as he did. If your loved one is at school, you might notice that her grades have dropped and that her sleeping patterns have changed. For those who work, changes in work ethic and serious sleep disturbances might occur. The person might even lose his or her job thanks to erratic behavior.

Effects of Bath Salt Abuse

Long-term abuse of bath salts appears to result in effects similar to amphetamines:

  • Psychosis.
  • Dizziness.
  • Heart problems.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Ulcers.
  • Mood disorders.
  • Total loss of coordination.

Media outlets have reported serious disturbances as being a side effect of bath salt use. The Miami cannibal incident in May 2012 was widely reported as being a bath salts-caused attack, although the investigation could not determine the ultimate cause of the apparent psychosis.

Mental health disorders cover a wide range of issues, including severe depression and attempts at suicide. People might also self-mutilate and become delirious. Death is not uncommon.

Ultimately, the most dangerous side effect of bath salts appears to be addiction, which causes users to lose touch with reality and lose their sense of self-control. While there are few studies on bath salts that show an addictive potential, the stimulation of certain neural pathways indicates that these drugs work in a similar way to amphetamines, creating similar addiction profiles.


When a loved one’s bath salts abuse spirals out of control, bath salts rehabis an option. Signs that an addiction has occurred usually involves a pattern of abuse that is destructive and carries on despite negative side effects. Usually, this might involve missing school or work, a failure to follow through with financial obligations, missing family obligations, or recurrent legal issues.

Once an addiction has been identified, it’s best to talk to the person. The key is to persuade your loved one to get help. Aim to understand why the addiction happened and don’t take anything personally; the drugs may well be talking, not the person you love.

Salt and Your Heart: Know The Link To Stay Healthy

It does not take a great mind to know that salt and your heart are very closely related. We have been hearing about this since our childhood. But, do you really know how excess salt could lead to high blood pressure? Or how much salt is considered to be healthy? Can you name the top six high sodium foods?

salt-and-the-heart (1)

These are some of the most frequently asked questions that often have no answers. In this article, we will give you a clear idea about the link between salt and your heart.

Before we move on to explore more on the link, let’s have a quick look at blood pressure statistics in the US. In fact, the numbers could be scary enough to make you change your bad habits.

According to the CDC, about 33% of U.S. adults have high blood pressure or hypertension. That is equal to about 75 million people. Unfortunately, half of them are struggling with uncontrolled blood pressure. That said, these people are more likely to have other heart diseases and stroke. Did you know that heart disease and stroke are among the top killers in the US?

What is Salt?

The salt in your favorite soup has many physiological functions apart from teasing your taste buds. For a common person, salt means table salt, a white powder that renders the foods saline. Chemically, it is sodium chloride.

Sodium is an essential electrolyte chiefly present outside the cells, the extracellular fluids. An optimum electrolyte-balance inside the body is key to ensuring:

  • A healthy blood pH (the measure of acidity/alkalinity of the blood),
  • You are well hydrated.
  • Your nerves, heart, and muscles are working properly.

Specifically, sodium chloride has a central role in the maintenance of blood pressure and water-content of the body.

Why Too Much Salt is Bad for Your Heart

The relation between salt and your heart is not very friendly. In fact, it has something to do with the water content of the body.

Salt has a unique property to hold onto water. That said, when its amount in the body is high, your body will retain more water. Conversely, when the salt concentration dips, you experience dehydration as more water is lost.

Thus, when the salt-water balance disrupts due to an excessive intake of salt, the heart and blood vessels need to work harder to restore the balance. As a result, some people can develop high blood pressure.

Salt and the Heart: How Much is Needed for a Healthy Heart?

According to the American Heart Association, a person should not have more than 2,300 mg of salt in a day. However, the ideal limit is even lower, 1,500 mg per day.

No doubt, most Americans have more salt they should. The daily salt intake of an average American is 3,400 mg. Interestingly, many of them do not realize it. Isn’t it high time to take note of how much salt you are taking daily?

Salt cellar


Which High Sodium Foods You Should Not HaveforaHealthy Heart

As a matter of fact, the original salt content of a food may be quite lower. However, during preparation, people add additional salt for better taste. This is exactly where you should take care. Remember the last dinner at a top restaurant in the town? Restaurant foods are notorious for their high sodium content. Thus, eat out less frequently.

Moreover, make sure to read food labels before buying. Packaged and processed foods are also not far behind in the race!

Foods that contain very high amount of added salt are categorized as the “Salty Six”. Here are the members. Limit their intake or absolutely avoid if your doctor suggests.

  1. Breads and rolls
  2. Cold cuts and cured meats
  3. Pizza
  4. Poultry
  5. Soup
  6. Sandwiches

A quick reminder: Many foods that are not on the list are not free of guilt either. For example, potato chips.

Have These Instead

Well, it might not be always possible to completely give up high-sodium foods. After all, they seem to be more satisfying. The better way would be to replace or supplement them with healthy habits. Here are some heart healthy diet patterns you may want to consider.

  • Have a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Frozen and canned alternatives are not bad either. Do not forget to watch the labels for the calorie count.
  • Whole grains that are rich in fibers are better than refined foods.
  • Take note of the type of meat you eat. Instead of red meats, eat poultry and fish Cook them without adding much salt and oil.
  • Fish such as salmon is a good source of healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids. Enjoy fish at least twice a week.
  • Choose naturally low-fat or fat-free milk products.
  • Limit your intake of beverages and foods that contain added sugars.
  • Cut down on alcohol intake. The safe level of drinking is no more than one drink per day for a woman and no more than two drinks per day for a man.
  • If you smoke, quit right away. If you need professional help, talk to your doctor to learn which strategies might help.

Want To Know More?

To learn more about the link between salt and your heart, visit Also, gain unlimited access to a myriad of other benefits. Readers can find evidence-based health information with just a click. Driven by the aim to provide authentic information about diseases, drugs, supplements, medical procedures, and lifestyle tips to all its visitors, and CEO Anthony Casimano allow visitors to read about the best doctors locally. Readers can choose the doctor that best meets their unique health needs, and request to schedule an appointment instantly.



What to Drink and What to Avoid to Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is critically important to ensure overall good health. Your body uses water and other fluids to clear off the toxins and maintain optimal temperature. In addition, it also helps to deliver nutrients to the cells. Many situations and some disorders can drain fluids out of your body. Most notably, it’s during the summer that people lose more water

how-to-stay-hydratedThis may lead to many health problems. For example, dizziness, sunken eyes and dry mouth, extreme weakness, and little urine. All of us know that we should drink water to stay hydrated. But other drinks can give you similar benefits as well. Moreover, avoiding some foods and drinks can help you cut down water loss.

Why Water Isthe Most Preferred Fluid to Stay Hydrated

“No water, no life. No blue, no green”. Anything about water cannot be truer than this. In fact, the clear, colorless, odorless, and tasteless liquid forms the basis of life.

Water is devoid of calories and does not contain any additives. Also, not to forget that it is wallet-friendly and readily available.



How Much Water Do You Need In A Day?

This is a common question, but finding the answer is often tricky. Because many factors influence your need, an exact number might be missing in almost every case. Nonetheless, some guidelines may help you figure out how much water you should drink.

According to The Institute of Medicine, about 3 liters of total water (for males) and 2.2 liters (for females) everyday may be considered enough. But there is something more to this than just the numbers. First, the total beverages do not mean you should take only water. Next, your intake can change according to the level of activity, climatic factors, health conditions, and body weight.

Another popular recommendation is eight glasses per day. While this has not been fully supported by the evidence, you could give it a try. In fact, the “eight glasses per day guideline”is quite close to that given by The Institute of Medicine.

In general, it is not an uphill task to find out how much water you need in a day. Nonetheless, if you cannot make up your mind, you may consult a dietician or nutritionist.

What Other Drinks You Can Have To Stay Hydrated?

It’s not always that you should gulp down gallons to keep you from dehydration. Other, probably tastier, options are also available. Drinks other than water also contain some amounts of water in them.

Consider the following foods and drinks in addition to water.

  • Take fruit juices but count the calories.
  • Drink unsweetened iced tea and coffee in moderation.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables that have high water content. For example, watermelon, cucumber, and spinach. In addition to providing water, they are also good sources of healthy dietary fibers.
  • If you love the taste of beer or wine, you could drink them too. Just make sure not to cross the recommended limits. If you have more, they might cause dehydration. Drink the same amount of water for each alcoholic drink you have.

What You Should Avoid To Stay Hydrated

Interestingly, some drinks can actually cause dehydration. This is more likely when you overdo them. For example, it is generally safe to drink a few cups of coffee or tea everyday. But when you have more than four cups, your body starts losing water. Caffeine, the active chemical in coffee and tea promotes the loss of fluids through urine. Alcoholic drinks also have the same effects on your body.

The key, here, is not avoiding all the drinks you love. But drink in moderation so the net loss of water does not cause any health issues.



Key Takeaways

  • Your body needs fluids to run its day-to-day physiological functions. In fact, it is essential for almost every function inside the body.
  • Hydration is important for your heart, too. When you have high blood pressure, the amount of sodium in the body is high. To flush the excess salt, you need to drink more water.
  • Dehydration is a condition that results when you do not have enough fluids. Failing to stay hydrated as per your body’s needs can lead to many adverse health effects. Unfortunately, some can be life-threatening. Chronic dehydration, on the other hand, is a long-term condition and results when you consume very little fluids for years.
  • Certain situations or health conditions can increase the need for fluids. For example, summer activities, hot climate, and diabetes.
  • Severe dehydration is a medical emergency, especially among children. It may result due to severe diarrhea or vomiting. Watch for the dangerous signs such as extremely dry mouth and eyes, very little or no urine, fainting and extreme weakness or dizziness.
  • Do not gulp down all fluids at once. Instead, drink glasses throughout the day. The most appropriate way might be to drink a glass with each meal or while taking medicine.
  • Have water or any sports drink during exercise to avoid dehydration.
  • Very rarely, drinking too much water can be harmful. But the risk is almost zero for an average person. What actually happens is, too much water flushes out the essential electrolytes. This results in a condition called hyponatremia.

Want To Know More?

To learn more about what you should drink and avoid to stay hydrated, visit Also, gain unlimited access to a myriad of other benefits. Readers can find evidence-based health information with just a click. Driven by the aim to provide authentic information about diseases, drugs, supplements, medical procedures, and lifestyle tips to all its visitors, and CEO Anthony Casimano allow visitors to read about the best doctors locally. Readers can choose the doctor that best meets their unique health needs, and request to schedule an appointment instantly.


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Fears and Phobias Related to the Doctor: How to Conquer your Fears

Meta: Fears and phobias are common. But they should not keep you from getting proper medical help. Read on to find how you can win over your fears.

Do you fear visiting the doctor? Does the sight of blood or injuriesFEARS & PHOBIAS overwhelm you? You are not alone. In fact, many people do not love paying visits to the doctor’s office. These fears and phobias may not cause an immediate harm to your health. Nevertheless, in the long run, avoiding doctor visits can be hazardous. Learn more about the measures to overcome the fear and participate actively in your treatment plan.

Doctor Anxiety: Fears and Phobias That Are Not Rational

No doubt, it is frightening to imagine a doctor piercing your vein with a sharp needle. In this case, the perceived feelings of harm may be natural. But the big question is, would you not take the medicine just to avoid the fear? This is where the fears and phobias differ from a type of anxiety problem called doctor anxiety.

In fact, a small percentage of patients may be too much afraid of the doctor and medical procedures that they may run away from a medical consultation.

From the psychological viewpoint, fear arises when the mind takes some people, conditions or events as a threat to one’s health, security, or even identity. The same applies in the case of doctor anxiety as well.

There are at least two possible ways the mind can connect with the hospitals and doctors. First, it can think them as a savior and provider of relief. Next, as a source of pain, blood injuries, and sickness. Both the perceptions are partially right. But the real problem stems from the fact that in many people, the negative perceptions trump the positive ones.

You should understand that these fears and phobias do not have much relevance when it comes to getting emergency help. However, in the case of preventive approaches, they may increase the risk of many diseases. For example, routine doctor visits and blood glucose tests are essential if you are a diabetic. Such healthy practice helps to keep the blood glucose in check while reducing the risk of complications. But what would you do if the fear of the injections overrides the fear of complications?

What Are Common Fears And Phobias?

Depending on a person’s psychology, past experience, and emotional support system in the family, common fears may include those of:

  • Does the memory of sharp needles raise your heartbeat every time you see a doctor? In fact, the fear seems reasonable, as you do not want to harm yourself. In some cases, it can be so overwhelming that the patients end up losing their consciousness. The needles may also be used to draw blood for a test. For this reason, the fear of injections presents a serious public health issue.
  • Getting a life-threatening diagnosis. Are you afraid what you will do if the test gives a positive HIV result? In this case, you may run away from the test because you cannot accept what the test brings.
  • Blood injuries. The sight of blood injuries or fresh blood can initiate a number of physical as well as psychological symptoms in some patients. For example, excessive sweating, shakiness, and even fainting.
  • Exposure to an uncomfortable situation. For example, mammography could cause problems for some women. Similarly, tests that involve private parts such as colonoscopy and prostate biopsy are more than just uncomfortable. Essentially, it also depends on the socio-cultural background of the patients.

How to Beat the Fears and Phobias

Unfortunately, you cannot expect to overcome your fears with just a single attempt. But when you practice the following measures on a regular basis, they can provide relief.

  • Identify the triggers. “Know what overwhelms you”. At times, people do not exactly know what is making them anxious. Therefore, the first step is to gain insight of the triggers, their frequency, and pattern. If you have a traumatic childhood experience that might be causing problems currently, seek help from a psychologist. Then, you can move to the next step.
  • Do not anticipate. Face the fears rationally. Keep in mind that your fear will only grow if you run away. For example, if you are going for a cancer test, plan what you will do if the test is positive. Remember what would have happened if the cancer was growing insidiously. When you think rationally, everything starts to make sense.
  • Seek help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it the most. Ask someone you love to join you in the visit. Moreover, you may seek professional help. Talk to your doctor about the fears and phobias. Then, ask if there is any coping strategy that can help. Sedatives that calm down the nerves may provide relief if you fear injections.
  • CBT may help. CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you different coping techniques to change your thinking about a potential trigger. As a result, you become stronger to face the problems.
  • Consider trying exposure therapy. This treatment approach may be used if the fears are not very intense. In this therapy, you will be exposed to the triggers in a controlled and supportive environment. With every new exposure session, the fears will step down the hierarchy and finally become insignificant.
  • Think of changing the doctor. This is one of the few last things you can do to overcome the fears and phobias. But this may not always successful considering the fear may originate from factors other than the doctor.

Want To Know More?

To learn more about fears and phobias, visit Also, gain unlimited access to a myriad of other benefits. Readers can find evidence-based health information with just a click. Driven by the aim to provide authentic information about diseases, drugs, supplements, medical procedures, and lifestyle tips to all its visitors, and CEO Anthony Casimano allow visitors to read about the best doctors locally. Readers can choose the doctor that best meets their unique health needs, and request to schedule an appointment instantly.


Doctor’s Retirement Age

In the 1990s, the average American expected to retire at age 60, according to the Gallup polls. In 2012, the same poll found most Americans expect to retire at age 67. Physicians, however, show different retirement patterns related to issues other than age. A family practice doctor in solo practice in a rural town may find it almost impossible to attract a replacement. As a result, he may continue to practice medicine for many years past the usual age of retirement.

Later Retirement

Physicians tend to retire later than other professionals, according to an August 2006 article in “Minnesota Medicine.” The article notes that in 1995, the average age of retirement for physicians was slightly over 67. Specialists may be more likely to retire earlier because they do not have continuous patient contact in the way that a family doctor or internist does, and because they have higher pre-retirementdoctors-retirement-age (1)-1 incomes to help support earlier retirement.

Changing Jobs

Most physicians in 2008 were younger than 45, according to the 2010 edition of the American Medical Association’s “Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the U.S.”– well below retirement age. However, 20 percent of physicians were 65 or older, and only half of these were listed as inactive, indicating retirement. In some cases, a physician may stop providing patient care but move into administrative tasks as a medical director, insurance consultant or other job in which medical expertise is desirable.

Doctors are Older

Although the overall physician population has grown 188 percent between 1970 and 2008, according to the AMA, the physician population over age 65 has grown by 408 percent in the same period. Economic factors may be keeping many physicians on the job longer, according to data from The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurance firm. The company found that the portion of physicians reporting satisfaction with retirement plans has dropped 18 percent since 2006, and the average age at which an internist retired had increased from 62 in 2002 to 70 in 2009.

Expected Work Life

Once a physician finishes residency, his expected work life is about 35 years, according to an October 2004 article in “Health Services Research.” The 11 years or more of education for a physician from college to the end of residency means few begin to practice before the age of 28 or 29. Female physicians tend to retire earlier than males, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. It also found that 50 percent of male physicians have retired by age 65 and 80 percent have retired by age 75.

As we age, our strength and vitality decrease; it is simply the order of things. An older person cannot run as fast or jump as high and does not have the same level of energy he or she had 20 or 25 years earlier. So the same must be true for higher mental functions, memory, the ability to learn, and clinical reasoning. Some believe that the experience that we acquire over the years makes up for everything.  Several studies have demonstrated that a decline in cognitive ability is associated with aging. Unfortunately, the rate of participation in continuing medical education activities decreases with age.

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