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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Keep smokers and fatties out of the country - Doctors

5:00AM Saturday June 30, 2007, By Catherine Masters

Potential immigrants should be screened for obesity and smoking habits because they place such a heavy burden on health services, respiratory specialists have suggested.
Doctors Jeff Garrett and Andy Veale from Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland say obesity is a huge and increasing problem in Counties Manukau but chronic health disorders are not funded adequately. Obesity leads to a range of problems, from diabetes and cancers to respiratory disease and sleep disorders, and severely stretches an already cash-strapped budget, they say.

Their comments follow the death of Samoan mother Folole Muliaga, who was obese. She died after her power was cut off and she could not use her breathing machine.Mrs Muliaga arrived in New Zealand in 2000 and was first treated at Middlemore in 2002. Dr Garrett says South Auckland has more obese patients than most areas. "We've got something like 40 patients who are very similar to her in terms of their needs."
(For the full story, click on the title)
Gary Moller comments
What is most revealing about the Muliaga case is the woeful inadequacy of modern "industrialised" medicine to deal with the chronic diseases of ageing and lifestyle; especially when there are cultural and language barriers to hurdle.In this case of morbid obesity, the "treatment" of this poor woman's obesity and consequent respiratory failure was to send her home with an oxygen machine. Sure, she might have had a few consultations with a nutritionist and maybe a few visits by a nurse at home; but these are hardly solutions.

As with the usual prescription of drugs to "manage" these lifestyle diseases, the adverse side effects are usually what finishes off the poor patient and not the disease. In this case, the adverse side effect of Mrs Muliaga's oxygen machine was skyrocketing power bills that the family could not keep up with. With the power company turning off the electricity to the home, that was the end of it for her.

Rather than whining about immigration and blaming the victims of their poor medical practices, these doctors who hail from the privileged quarters of society need to take a long hard look at how their own inadequacies as health professionals and consider how they actually contributed to this woman's death by prescribing a really dumb treatment. This trusting woman went to these docotors for help and she ended up dead. The sad truth is that the instruments that doctors have in their hi-tec tool box simply don't work for these kinds of health conditions.

Stereotyped attitudes about these lovely and trusting people also get in the way of providing effective health care.

As the article above says, Middlemore Hospital has about 40 other people with similar health problems. Let's get some proper health care for them.
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