The Daily Dose: Healthcare inequality has been around for centuries and that’s bad

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The disparities in the way disenfranchised group’s experience disease — communicable and noncommunicable — is something we’ve highlighted repeatedly. An article in Science takes a look at past pandemics starting with the Black Death. As you’d expect, it’s anything but a recent phenomenon. “Careful archaeological and historical work at East Smithfield and elsewhere has revealed that intersecting social and economic inequalities shaped the course of the Black Death and other epidemics… The people at greatest risk were often those already marginalized—the poor and minorities who faced discrimination in ways that damaged their health or limited their access to medical care even in prepandemic times. In turn, the pandemics themselves affected societal inequality, by either undermining or reinforcing existing power structures.” Turns out with all the technology in the world, we still haven’t figured out how to take care of the most vulnerable in our society.

Pandemic be damned. If anyone thought a global viral outbreak would give the growing anti-vaccine legions reason to take pause, think again. It’s only getting worse and that has public health officials really concerned. “A first-of-its-kind analysis of more than 1300 Facebook pages with nearly 100 million followers has produced a network map that’s alarming public health professionals. Antivaccine pages have fewer followers than pro-vaccine pages but are more numerous, faster growing, and increasingly more connected to undecided pages, the study finds. If the current trends continue, the researchers predict, antivaccine views will dominate online discussion in 10 years—a time when a future vaccine against COVID-19 may be critical to public health.”

Here’s another take on the study that appears to have scientists and the public healthcare community truly shook. As per Nature,”The work shows that “the pro-vaccine community are basically sticking to their narrative and talking to each other, and not reaching out and being responsive to the narratives that are out there among the undecided,” says Heidi Larson, who directs the Vaccine Confidence Project, a group that monitors public trust in vaccines, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.”

Publish, publish, publish. That’s the mantra across academia. It’s even more prevalent in the so-called STEM fields. The pressure to publish is enormous and that leads to some less-than-savory actions by researchers trying to crank out the journal papers. Still, the amount of submissions containing fraudulent elements is surprising. Enter Elizabeth Bik, a microbiologist turned academic paper detective. According to Nature, “Bik, a microbiologist from the Netherlands who moved to the United States almost two decades ago, is a widely lauded super-spotter of duplicated images in the scientific literature. On a typical day, she’ll scan dozens of biomedical papers by eye, looking for instances in which images are reused and reported as results from different experiments, or where parts of images are cloned, flipped, shifted or rotated to create ‘new’ data.” Turns out college undergrad lab students aren’t the only ones fudging their results.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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