Prime Ministers and Presidents must be more open about their health status
Physicians at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago performed a rare surgery this week to restore hearing to a deaf patient. Marisela Leon, 44, has neurofibromatosis type 2 — a rare genetic condition that causes tumors to grow on nerves in the brain or spinal cord, but most commonly on the auditory nerve.
Full Post: Physicians perform rare surgery to restore hearing to a deaf patient
Anyone who runs for Prime Minister or President should have an independent health examination to ensure their ability to govern, argues a doctor on bmj.com today.
Lord David Owen, a trained doctor and member of the House of Lords, says that millions of people are affected by the decisions of people in high public office, and these leaders have an obligation to the general public to ensure that their decision making is not impaired by physical or mental illness.
No one has to stand for high public office he says, “if potential candidates knew they faced independent assessment and that they had a health problem then they would either not stand or they would make it public of their own volition.”
According to Owen, many heads of governments and their personal doctors do not tell the truth about their illness and have received inferior medical treatment as a result of this secrecy. For example, when Francois Mitterrand was President of France he kept his cancer of the prostate and secondaries in the bone secret for 11 years, even though his personal doctor made monthly public statements about his health with no mention of his true medical condition.
More recently, despite happily revealing his medical records from Vietnam, in the run up to the US elections, Senator McCain was not so open about his malignant melanoma diagnosis.
When in office, leaders should be obliged to have an annual independent health check to ensure that they are fit for office and are able to step down temporarily or permanently if their illness is affecting their capacity to do the job, writes Owen.
In 1998, the Prime Minister of Norway suffered a severe depressive reaction and offered to resign. But, after discussion with the Foreign Minister, he publicly announced that he was suffering from depression, and after four weeks of treatment and adapting his working practices he returned to work. His actions commanded great respect from the Norwegian public and helped lessen the stigma surrounding mental health.
According to Owen, this example illustrates the lessening prejudice and much greater public understanding of illness. A greater openness would not necessarily preclude someone with an illness from convincing their party and the public that they are fit for office, he concludes.
One of Malaysia’s top politicians has apparently suggested that HIV carriers should not be allowed to marry in order to avoid having sick children. The chief minister of northern Perak state, Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, has been quoted as saying that people who are very sick with such a disease should not be allowed to
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The Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation (CPRF) announced today that it is joining forces with Mental Health Partnerships of Canada. This strategic alliance will create a new national mental health charity. Mental Health Partnerships of Canada (MHPC) will expand fundraising activities and develop leading research and demonstration projects in the field of mental health, mental illness
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New research has revealed that women with a history of serious mental illness are much more likely to have babies that are stillborn or die within the first month of life. The researchers from the Centre for Women’s Mental Health at Manchester University say the risk of stillbirth and newborn deaths from any cause, was
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After a doctor at Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital tested positive for tuberculosis (TB), authorities say as many as 300 babies have been identified who may have come into contact with the doctor and could be at risk. About 75 of the children are too young to be tested but have been given preventive
Full Post: As many as 300 children could be at risk of TB from hospital doctor
Leaders in health care and health care policy feel strongly that the way we pay for health care in the U.S. must be fundamentally reformed. The latest Commonwealth Fund/Modern Healthcare Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey reports that more than two-thirds (69%) of respondents expressed strong dissatisfaction with the current system, which is generally based on
Full Post: Survey finds health care in the U.S. must be fundamentally reformed