Tag Archives: international

International panel formed as resource for journalists

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

green-globeSix AHCJ members are part of a new international effort to share information about how other countries’ health systems work.

The Panel of International Journalists was the brainchild of former AHCJ president Trudy Lieberman and created with the help of Noralou P. Roos, Ph.D., and the Evidence Network of Canadian Health Policy (commonly known as EvidenceNetwork.ca), as Lieberman explains in this CJR piece.

The New York-based journalist wanted to “encourage more cross-country conversation and tap into the expertise of colleagues in other countries who report on the same health and medical issues we do.” Continue reading

Looking at the ‘adventure’ philanthropy of dental professionals

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo courtesy of Bart Roach

Photo courtesy of Bart Roach

Sara Schilling of the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Wash., recently caught up with a local dentist who channels his wanderlust into helping others.

His name is Bart Roach.

When Roach is not taking care of his own patients and pitching in at a local clinic for the poor, he is trekking to faraway places where children are suffering from untreated disease.

The walls of his office are decorated with images and souvenirs of his travels. The computer in his office is filled with the photographs, Schilling writes. Continue reading

Going international for dental care: Questions patients should ask

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are traveling abroad each year for health care services.

Many factors are helping to drive the medical tourism trend, including the aging of the baby boom generation, cheap airfares, a growing number of online resources dedicated to health-related travel and the promise of savings on costly procedures such as major dental restorations that patients lacking coverage would need to pay for out-of-pocket care.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo playerBettie Cross of  KEYE-Austin, Texas, took a look at dental vacations in a recent segment. She talked with patients who headed to Mexico for dental care and came back with different stories to tell.

Kim Conley, who decided to get three dental implants in Cancun, returned with video tapes her husband made documenting everything from the resort where they stayed to the dental office where she got her treatments. Continue reading

Barlett & Steele uncover chaos, peril of global drug industry

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In Vanity Fair, Donald Barlett and James Steele have devoted more than 6,000 words to chronicling the gaping holes in the global pharmaceutical industry, particularly as pertains to the globalization of clinical trials. Even if you’re familiar with many of the specific incidents covered, their cumulative effect, driven home with forceful and authoritative prose, is brutal. Each paragraph holds another tale of trials gone wrong, children killed and bad results that somehow never came to the attention of American regulators.

globePhoto by amyvdh via Flickr

It used to be that clinical trials were done mostly by academic researchers in universities and teaching hospitals, a system that, however imperfect, generally entailed certain minimum standards. The free market has changed all that. Today it is mainly independent contractors who recruit potential patients both in the U.S. and—increasingly—overseas.

They devise the rules for the clinical trials, conduct the trials themselves, prepare reports on the results, ghostwrite technical articles for medical journals, and create promotional campaigns. The people doing the work on the front lines are not independent scientists. They are wage-earning technicians who are paid to gather a certain number of human beings; sometimes sequester and feed them; administer certain chemical inputs; and collect samples of urine and blood at regular intervals. The work looks like agribusiness, not research.

After neatly setting up each pin with demonstrations of how international the pharmaceutical industry has become, then proceed to knock them all down with examples of industry impunity and FDA weakness.

The F.D.A., the federal agency charged with oversight of the food and drugs that Americans consume, is rife with conflicts of interest. Doctors who insist the drug you take is perfectly safe may be collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company selling the drug. … Quite often, the F.D.A. never bothers to check for interlocking financial interests. In one study, the agency failed to document the financial interests of applicants in 31 percent of applications for new-drug approval. Even when the agency or the company knew of a potential conflict of interest, neither acted to guard against bias in the test results.

Related

WikiLeaks cables: Pfizer used dirty tricks to avoid clinical trial payout in Nigeria

Professor: Research, training can improve South African health journalism

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In discussing a large grant his university has received and the center for health journalism that it will fund, South African professor Guy Berger (bio) has unleashed a scathing critique of African health journalism, and of the profession as a whole.

rhodes
Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. Photo by Pierre Nel via Flickr

Berger says South African health journalists don’t look hard enough for real news, don’t know enough about health care, and aren’t even that good at telling the stories that they do uncover.

It’s a dire picture, of course, but Berger’s overall message is one of hope. He implies that there’s a lot of great work to be done on health and the health care industry in in South Africa and the new center, he says, could help make health journalism the “healthiest trend-setter for the whole family of journalism.”

The “Discovery Centre for Health Journalism” will be funded by a $2 million grant from South African insurer Discovery Health. It will offer an honors program, six annual scholarships and an “annual symposium for working health journalists and stakeholders.” Berger also writes that it will “enjoy full academic freedom.”

For more on the center and African health journalism, see Issa Sikiti da Silva’s related post on bizcommunity.com.

GAO evaluates FDA’s overseas inspectors

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

A couple of new GAO reports are seeking to shed some light on the FDA’s overseas regulatory efforts. The first is part overview, part progress report (52-page PDF). It’ll answer your basic questions.

September 18, 2007: An FDA chemist is shown conducting a rapid screening using an automated immunoassay instrument to detect cell surface antigens of Salmonella on food products. Photo by Black Star/Michael Falco for FDA

An FDA chemist tests food for antigens of Salmonella. (Photo: Black Star/Michael Falco for FDA)

In 2008 and 2009, the FDA sent 42 staffers overseas to establish foreign offices. The staff are on two-year overseas rotations, though it’s been difficult to find qualified workers for certain locations, especially since some of them had to take a pay cut. There’s a map of all 11 offices on the 12th page of the PDF.

According to the GAO, what do FDA overseas offices do?

  • Build relationships with foreign regulators and stakeholders, and with other U.S. agencies that are overseas
  • Gather information about regulated products
  • Inspect overseas facilities which are exporting to the U.S. (China and India only)
  • Train foreign stakeholders to better understand FDA regulations and systems

The second report is focused specifically upon inspections of overseas drug manufacturers producing for the U.S. market. The FDA has prioritized a list of such facilities that it would like its inspectors to visit, and the overseas agents managed to check off 11 percent of that list last year. At that rate, it will take about nine years for them to cover everything. For domestic facilities, that turnover rate is about 2.5 years.