Four numbers for 2019

Four statistics from 2018 portent trends for 2019. All have to do with human health, and none of them are good.

22 million

Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 1 million people infected with cholera, over 8 million people at the brink of starvation and 22 million in need of humanitarian aid. The crisis is the direct result of the ongoing armed conflict between Muslim rebels and a weak president, supported by Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the US.

Yemen is a model of armed conflict in the 21stcentury: the business enterprise of arms sales to regimes to prop up meaningless conflicts under the guise of “promoting regional stability.” The resulting billions pad the pockets of governments and arms-makers and ensure continuity of the current decadent Western lifestyle which reliably ignores the fact that Yemen even exists. This despite the fact that, unlike the Holocaust or Stalin’s persecutions, the crisis in Yemen is extensively documented for all the world to see on a daily basis.

Yemen demonstrates the mindset of the new world order, an order preoccupied with its own entitlement and the pursuit of material gains at the cost of dehumanization of those, who have not. The lesson? In today’s interlinked globalized money-glut culture, large wars are no longer practical. But the small ones, like Yemen (8 yrs.), Syria (8 yrs.), and Afghanistan (17 yrs.) shall continue indefinitely.

1 million

That’s how many people in Russia are officially HIV positive – the virus that causes AIDS. The real number is estimated to be more than double. Russia has the world’s fastest growing HIV rate, with 250 people contacting the virus every day. Only half get treatment, the rest do not, which accounts for an estimated 30.000 AIDS –related deaths/year. The source? Russia has the highest amount of people in Europe who inject drugs. The problem? It’s predicted that heterosexual HIV transmission will soon overtake drug-related transmission; HIV will become a mainstream infection effecting the general population. The other real problem? Alcohol. Alcohol-related sickness is now the leading cause of death, with one out of four men dying from alcohol before reaching 55. This, plus a steadily worsening economy explains Russia’s ongoing steady drop in population – by 2050 it is estimated to fall by 30 million. The associated skyrocketing costs linked to sickness, work and job loss and income loss for the state will dramatically strain Putin’s czarist state and its services, resulting in Putin tightening control and creating new external enemies and conflicts. Opposition will continue to be suppressed and whatever intelligence or investment there is left in the country shall be put under tight control. The lesson? Russia will always be Russia, and not a Western nation, nor should it be. And the worse the situation there gets, the more it should be taken seriously.

72, 287

That’s the number of drug overdose deaths in the US, a 10% increase over 2017. Of note is that almost half are attributed to pain-killing opiates. In the US, the drug epidemic is now more deadly that gun violence, car crashes and AIDS. Trump’s administration is seeking to solve the crisis by limiting production of opiates by drug companies, with hundreds of lawsuits filed by states, counties and cities against major drug companies. The real problem? The epidemic of opiate use is the result of over-prescribing opiates by doctors, who don’t want to lose their patients, and the current American mindset, that everyone is entitled to everything, so that pain in any shape way or form is simply something that should immediately be stopped.

That mindset directly links into the fact that the leading financial and social crisis facing America today is the rising cost of healthcare. The US now spends over 18% of its GDP on healthcare, while the OECD states on average spend half – 9%. What is the increased spending due to? The lion’s share is for defensive medicine, where doctors order additional tests and prescribe needless medications so as to avoid lawsuits from their patients. Yet America has the worst results, including life-expectancy, access to care, and treatment of chronic medical illness. Unlike most other developed nations, America hasn’t figured out, that the problem is not in the system, but in its present cultural values. In today’s America, the Founding Father’s concept of freedom has malformed into a culture of entitlement. The concept of social redistribution as the mainstay of economic stability and growth is anathema to most Americans, which is why the richest 1% of people own more wealth than all of the bottom 90%combined. The lesson? Unless America experiences a dramatic mind-set shift, the differences between rich and poor shall continue to widen, with internal tensions increasing volatility in political, economic, and societal spheres.

817,000 versus 544,000

One is the global yearly number of deaths from all homicides, war deaths and deaths from terrorism combined, the other the global number of suicides/year. The larger number are the suicides. Surprised? Not really. The reason is two-fold. First, mankind is guided by perception rather than fact, a result of our long-standing evolutionary process, which at the end of the day pits success and survival against more empathetic qualities. Second, with the current Western imperative of consumerism, mental health issues simply don’t rank as a priority. This is particularly true for today’s young generation weaned on technology, who are five timesmore likely to experience anxiety or depression than their parents or grandparents. The lesson? Unless we turn our attention to mental health and to the true reasons for our mounting anxiety, the current crisis will expand and further disengage us from ourselves, our families, and our cultures, with the potential to deform our civilization as we know it.

Translated from Czech, January 7, 2019, Lidove noviny:

publikováno: 7. 1. 2019

Martin Jan Stránský

Martin Jan Stránský

vydavatel Přítomnosti / Martin Jan Stránský se narodil v New Yorku, do České republiky se vrátil po revoluci v roce 1989. Přednáší na LF UK a je aktivním primářem. Je také spoluzakladatelem a přednostou Polikliniky na Národní v Praze. Založil a vede Kancelář Ombudsmana pro zdraví. Kromě toho obnovil časopis Přítomnost a je jeho vydavatelem. Martin Jan Stránský pochází z významné české rodiny. Adolf Stránský, jeho praděd, byl ministrem v první československé vládě a také založil Lidové noviny. Děda Jaroslav by ministrem spravedlnosti a školství a vydával Přítomnost. Jeho otec Jan byl poslancem.


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