Health Desk

Goats and Soda
12:48 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Family Planning In Senegal: Which Imam Do You Listen To?

"This is the last one," says Yassin Diouf, 40, holding her youngest child. "God help me to stop here." She has given birth 10 times; six of the children have survived. She and her family live in the village of Mereto in Senegal. "Maybe [family planning] is forbidden by Islam, but women are so tired of giving birth. If you have the permission of your husband, I think it's good."
Allison Shelley for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 9:49 am

In the village of Mereto, Ngour Sen, 56, reclined on a green foam mattress next to a pile of massive rice bags in the seclusion of his storeroom. His 11 children and two wives loitered just outside in the yard, chatting while the women shelled peas. In the background, RSI, Senegalese state radio, droned. "We never switch it off," he said.

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Shots - Health News
9:30 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Texted Reminders Help Parents Get Kids In For Flu Shots

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 8:29 am

Young children are especially susceptible to the seasonal flu, and annual flu immunizations are the best way to protect them.

But many children under 9 require two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected, and only about half of those who need two doses get both. That's in addition to the one-third of children in the United States who don't get flu immunizations at all.

What'll it take to drive those numbers up? Simply texting parents a few reminders may help.

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Law
4:06 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Supreme Court To Hear Case Against Obamacare In 2015

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 8:11 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
2:36 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Teaching Friends And Family How To Reverse A Drug Overdose

Tina Wolf demonstrates the use of naloxone to community members in Lindenhurst, N.Y., during an overdose prevention training. Georgia Dolan-Reilly (left) of the Suffolk County Prevention Resource Center helped with the training.
Kevin Hagen for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 9:05 am

When Priscilla Graham-Farmer went to get her hair done in Newark, N.J., recently, she noticed the elevator in the building was broken, so she took the stairs. And that's when Graham-Farmer saw him: a young guy sprawled out, not breathing.

"He was literally turning blue," she says. "And everybody was walking over him."

But Graham-Farmer stopped. And looked closer. She saw that he had a needle and some cotton balls. The guy had clearly overdosed.

"I'm screaming in the hallway," Graham-Farmer remembers. "Nobody's answering."

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Global Health
5:02 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

A Year And 7,000 Deaths Later, A Look At The Ebola Epidemic

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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Global Health
4:42 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

These Dedicated Ebola Fighters Are Men And Women On A Mission

Dr. John Fankhauser, one of the many missionaries battling Ebola, is sprayed with disinfectant at ELWA hospital in Liberia.
Courtesy of Bethany Fankhauser

Originally published on Fri January 9, 2015 4:38 pm

John Fankhauser, a missionary doctor, is as scared of Ebola as anybody else. But that hasn't stopped him from tending to patients during the outbreak. He sees the Ebola crisis as an important moment in his personal relationship with God.

"I have a very keen awareness of the risks and the need to be extremely careful, but I also feel very called to what I'm doing," says Fankhauser, 52, from Ventura, Calif. "I feel very confident that this is where God wants me right now."

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Health
4:42 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

Mae Keane, One Of The Last 'Radium Girls,' Dies At 107

Employees of the U.S. Radium Corp. paint numbers on the faces of wristwatches using dangerous radioactive paint. Dozens of women, known as "radium girls," later died of radium poisoning. One of the last radium girls died this year at 107.
Argonne National Laboratory

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 1:49 pm

Editor's note, Jan. 15, 2015: Mae Keane was one of the last "radium girls," but not the last one. Please scroll down to the bottom of this page to see the full correction note.


Before turning the page on 2014, All Things Considered is paying tribute to some of the people who died this year whose stories you may not have heard — including Mae Keane.

In the early 1920s, the hot new gadget was a wristwatch with a glow-in-the-dark dial.

"Made possible by the magic of radium!" bragged one advertisement.

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Science
4:42 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

From One Man's Damaged Brain, A Treasure Trove Of Research On Memory

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 5:02 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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Health Care
8:29 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Tennessee's Medicaid Deal Dodges A Partisan Fight

Gov. Bill Haslam announces his proposal to expand Medicaid in Tennessee on Dec. 15. Under the plan, the hospital association would pay the state's portion of the program.
Erik Schelzig AP

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 10:07 am

Tony Smith's disability check puts him over the income limit to receive standard Medicaid, but it's too little for him to qualify for a subsidy.

Sitting next to a federal health-care navigator at a Nashville, Tenn., clinic, he said he hopes lawmakers think of his plight and that of thousands of others when considering Medicaid expansion.

"I'm not looking for a handout," Smith says. "I'm just looking for some help ... because I need it."

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Health
6:39 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Thalidomide Victims In Spain Still Waiting For Compensation

A Thalidomide victim leaves a Spanish court in a wheelchair while a protestor holds a sign reading "Thalidomide, Justice!" during a trial in Madrid in October 2013. Thousands of babies across Europe were born with abnormalities including missing limbs when expectant mothers were prescribed thalidomide in the 1950s and later.
Andres Kudacki AP

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 10:07 am

More than five decades on, the battle for justice over birth defects caused by the drug thalidomide continues in only one European country: Spain.

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Shots - Health News
4:36 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Wonder Abides, Even For A Skeptical Doctor

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 9:05 am

The holidays are here, bringing joy and, for some, wistful feelings.

Doctors are no different. Even for a profession that prides itself on scientific proof, the long nights of December afford ample opportunity for reflection and even doubt.

As we take stock of what we've accomplished and where we've failed to measure up, I find my scowling mask of medical skepticism falling away. I have to admit that there is so much wonder and mystery that science and medicine still can't explain.

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Goats and Soda
4:35 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Adebisi Alimi: Gay Nigerian Actor Puts His Sexuality In The Spotlight

Adebisi Alimi, an actor-turned-activist, was the first person ever to come out as gay on Nigerian television. He now shares his story when he speaks up for the rights of the LGBT community.
Claire Eggers NPR

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 10:52 am

Adebisi Alimi is the first person ever to come out as gay on Nigerian television. But that wasn't what the 29-year-old wanted to be known for back in 2004.

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Goats and Soda
5:59 am
Sat December 27, 2014

Ebola Survivor: The Best Word For The Virus Is 'Aggression'

Dr. Ian Crozier stands with a group of survivors and a nurse at the Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone. He contracted Ebola and was on the brink of death, but he survived.
Courtesy of WHO/J Amone

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 10:10 am

When Dr. Ian Crozier arrived in West Africa this past summer, he was stepping into the epicenter of the Ebola hot zone. The American doctor was working in the Ebola ward of a large, public hospital in Sierra Leone's dusty city of Kenema.

The trip nearly cost him his life. First came a fever, then a severe headache. "My first thought was, 'Oh, I must have missed a few days of my malaria prophylaxis,' " Crozier recalls.

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National Security
3:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

Military Policy Impedes Research On Traumatic Brain Injuries

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Shots - Health News
3:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

One More Reason To Reach For A Paper Book Before Bed

Sleepy in the day and wide awake at night? Give the screen a rest.
Guido Mieth Getty Images/Flickr RM

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 7:18 am

E-readers may make it particularly hard to get a good night's sleep, according to research out this week.

A study that followed every nightly twitch, turn and snore of 12 volunteers for a couple weeks found that those who read from an iPad before hitting the sack had a harder time falling asleep, spent less time in a crucial phase of sleep, and were less alert the next day.

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NPR Ed
11:03 am
Fri December 26, 2014

An Update On Screen Time

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 12:53 am

NPR Ed is updating some of the top stories we've been following in 2014.

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Goats and Soda
6:03 am
Fri December 26, 2014

How To Make An Unboring Documentary About Polio

The documentary film, "Every Last Child," chronicles the efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan. Women play a key role — they're welcome in homes to share information, while men are not.
Courtesy of "Every Last Child"

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 7:46 am

When an Abu Dhabi film company, Image Nation, asked filmmaker Tom Roberts last summer to come up with an idea for a documentary about polio, he was flummoxed.

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Shots - Health News
2:34 am
Fri December 26, 2014

A Split View On Obamacare's Past And Future

Kevin Counihan (left) runs HealthCare.gov, and Michael Cannon, of the Cato Institute, is a prominent critic of Obamacare.
Courtesy of Chion Wolf/WNPR ; Courtesy of the Cato Institute

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 9:05 am

Kevin Counihan and Michael Cannon look at the Affordable Care Act and see very different things.

Cannon is part of the brain trust behind a Supreme Court case that could result in the repeal of a part of the exchanges he says is illegal.

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The Two-Way
9:59 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Sierra Leone Puts North On Lockdown Amid Ebola Spread

British health workers lift a newly admitted Ebola patient onto a wheeled stretcher in to the Kerry town Ebola treatment center outside Freetown, Sierra Leone, earlier this week.
Baz Ratner Reuters/Landov

Sierra Leone, the country hardest-hit by an ongoing Ebola outbreak, has imposed a lockdown in the country's north in an effort to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

The BBC quotes local officials as saying that shops, markets and non-Ebola related travel would be shut down. Many public Christmas celebrations had already been banned, according to Reuters.

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Goats and Soda
6:03 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Ebola Survivor: 'You Feel Like ... Maybe ... A Ghost'

Dr. Senga Omeonga pictured outside St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital in Monrovia. Omeonga moved to Liberia from DRC in 2011. He contracted Ebola but survived it.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 4:06 pm

Dr. Senga Omeonga met us under a huge mango tree outside St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Behind the main building, several dozens of disinfected rubber boots worn by health care workers were propped upside down on stakes planted on a patch of lawn.

This is the hospital where Omeonga works as general surgeon and the head of Infection Prevention Control. It's also where he came down with Ebola on Aug. 2.

He says his days in treatment were "a living hell." And the experience has changed his view of the world — and the way he treats patients.

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The Two-Way
4:48 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Mishandling Of Ebola Sample May Have Exposed CDC Technician To Virus

Stringy particles of Ebola virus (blue) bud from a chronically infected cell (yellow-green) in this colorized, scanning electron micrograph.
NIAID Science Source

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 12:54 pm

Federal health officials are investigating an incident involving the mishandling of the Ebola virus at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's headquarters in Atlanta.

The incident involved the material used in an experiment with the Ebola virus, the CDC said in a statement released late Wednesday. The material was accidentally moved from a high-security lab to a low-security lab on Monday. As a result, there's a possibility that one lab technician may have been exposed to the virus. That person will be monitored for 21 days for any symptoms.

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Shots - Health News
3:25 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

When Home And Health Are Just Out Of Reach

Donna Giron wheels through the halls of the nursing home she's lived in since May. Finding an affordable home of her own has been difficult.
Sarah Jane Tribble WCPN

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 7:19 am

Donna Giron is frail. She has Crohn's disease and uses a wheelchair to get around because walking exhausts her.

But she doesn't want to be in the nursing home where she has lived since May.

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Shots - Health News
12:35 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Would You Like Health Insurance With Those Stocking Stuffers?

Need a gift for a 20-something kid about to age out of the family's health plan? Juana Rivera (left) discusses insurance options with Fabrizzio Russi, an agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, at the Mall of the Americas in Miami.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 4:06 pm

California's health insurance marketplace, Covered California, has supported the development of more than 200 new storefronts at or near shopping centers across the state this year, each tasked with explaining the ins and outs of different health plans to holiday (and everyday) shoppers.

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Code Switch
8:33 am
Wed December 24, 2014

New Blood Donation Rules Would Still Exclude Many Gay Men

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 7:46 am

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration recommended a change in the discriminatory and unscientific policy that effectively prohibited men who have sex with men from donating blood for life. Those guidelines kept any man who had sex with another man — even just once — since 1977 from donating blood forever.

While gay discrimination has been reduced in so many other areas of life, up until now, there hasn't been enough medical or political will to intervene on the blood ban. That policy perpetuated stigma without improving safety.

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Shots - Health News
2:25 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Obama Administration Downplays Court Challenge To Health Law

Elisa Carrero assists Julian Gauiria, of Paterson, N.J., with enrollment in the health insurance exchange in November. Signups continue to be brisk, health officials say.
Tyson Trish North Jersey/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 9:24 am

This time last year, federal officials were scrambling to get as many people enrolled in health insurance through HealthCare.gov as they could before the start of the program on Jan. 1.

Now, with the technical problems mostly fixed, they're facing a different problem: the possibility that the Supreme Court might rule that the subsidies that help people afford coverage are illegal in the 37 states where the federal government is running the program.

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Goats and Soda
2:23 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Christmas In Liberia: Ebola Fears, No Snow, Holiday Spirit

A man peddles plastic Christmas trees and lights in downtown Monrovia.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 7:43 am

Ebola has cast a shadow over Liberia, but it can't stop Christmas.

Despite the trauma of the past year, Liberians are trying to have a happy holiday season. Carols are playing on the radio and there's lots of decorating — and painting — going on.

"At a certain time of the year we want our homes to look good," says journalist Siatta Scott Johnson. "It's like a competition in Liberia when it comes to the festive season."

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Shots - Health News
2:18 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Costly Hepatitis C Drugs Threaten To Bust Prison Budgets

Dr. Michael Poshkus treats inmates with hepatitis C at the John J. Moran Medium Security facility in Cranston, R.I. Some 12 to 35 percent of inmates nationwide are afflicted with the chronic liver disease.
Kristin Gourlay RIPR

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 2:45 pm

Every week, Dr. Michael Poshkus visits the John J. Moran Medium Security prison in Cranston, R.I., to see patients infected with hepatitis C.

Until recently, their only treatment option was a weekly injection in the stomach for at least a year. It worked less than half the time and caused debilitating side effects. But everything has changed.

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Goats and Soda
12:47 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Floating Toilets That Clean Themselves Grow On A Lake

During the dry season, human waste makes the water putrid along the floating village of Prek Toal on Tonle Sap Lake.
Courtesy of Taber Hand

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 10:03 am

Imagine you live on a floating lake house. Open air. Chirping crickets. Clear, starry nights. Everything seems great until you need to use the bathroom.

The natural instinct might be to make a deposit in the water. But that wouldn't be safe. Microbes in your feces would contaminate the water and could cause outbreaks of deadly diseases, like cholera.

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Shots - Health News
10:07 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Being Thin Doesn't Spare Asian-Americans From Diabetes Risk

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 7:19 am

We know that you can be fat while still fit, but how about skinny and unhealthy? This may be the case for many Asian-Americans who look slim, but actually face a higher risk of diabetes than people belonging to other ethnic groups.

As a result, Asian-Americans should consider getting tested for diabetes at a lower body mass index than previously recommended, according to new guidelines published Tuesday by the American Diabetes Association.

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Shots - Health News
9:31 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Can I Keep My Marketplace Insurance If I Enroll In Medicare?

Sally Elford Getty Images/Ikon Images

We have received a bunch of questions about enrolling in Medicare lately. Here are answers to two that came up recently.

My wife has been automatically re-enrolled in a silver policy on the Oklahoma health insurance marketplace. She will turn 65 and be enrolled in Medicare on May 1, 2015. Can she keep her silver policy when she is enrolled in Medicare? And, if she does, will she automatically lose her premium subsidy? Do we have to cancel the policy or will the insurer do it automatically?

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