Love Among the Ruins

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  • 08/13/2012

Interesting article in the Lancet (Volume 380, Issue 9841, Pages 611 - 619, 11 August 2012 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60861-7), Hypertension in developing countries.

Here’s the summary:

Data from different national and regional surveys show that hypertension is common in developing countries, particularly in urban areas, and that rates of awareness, treatment, and control are low. Several hypertension risk factors seem to be more common in developing countries than in developed regions. Findings from serial surveys show an increasing prevalence of hypertension in developing countries, possibly caused by urbanisation, ageing of population, changes to dietary habits, and social stress. High illiteracy rates, poor access to health facilities, bad dietary habits, poverty, and high costs of drugs contribute to poor blood pressure control. The health system in many developing countries is inadequate because of low funds, poor infrastructure, and inexperience. Priority is given to acute disorders, child and maternal health care, and control of communicable diseases. Governments, together with medical societies and non-governmental organisations, should support and promote preventive programmes aiming to increase public awareness, educate physicians, and reduce salt intake. Regulations for the food industry and the production and availability of generic drugs should be reinforced.

Common sense? Not to everyone.  It seems that members of uncivil society are somewhat perturbed since they prefer to focus on evil multinational corporations (MNCs) and patents as the key public enemies of public health in the developing world. They become defensive whenever issues like governments buying poor quality generics comes up, or the use of counterfeits, or the inconvenient fact that in Africa, 99% of all essential drugs are off patent or were never patented, but millions of patients don't have reliable access to them -- which puts the spotlight back on generics companies, kleptocratic governments and the failures of their health systems.

Uncivil society groupies appear reluctant to delve into the factors behind why millions of people in Africa and other LDCs don't have access to non patented, off patented, legally generic (and reliably high quality) essential drugs in Africa --but they'll devote gallons of ink to their claims about the predations of patents and MNCs.

Love, so to speak, among the ruins.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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