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Monday, 18 March 2013

War on drugs and cancer - more losers than winners?

War has few winners and many losers.  

You were probably assuming that referenced the tragedies of global conflict which are documented and reported here in November 2012 global peace day.   

Three reports from the past week on the failure of “wars” against health problems.   The War on Drugs has had numerous reports in the last few years such as psychoactive-drug-tidbits  with increasingly high profile individuals questioning the costs of the current approach.  The UN commission on Narcotic Drugs met in Vienna and received a scathing editorial from the New York times March 10.   The UN development chief subsequently spoke out on the negative consequences Reuters March 15 and openly challenged the 40 year old US led war that has cost 70,000 lives in Mexico along in the last 5 years alone.  

The second war that was recently panned was the War on Cancer as the National Post March 13 questions the return on billions in research investment.  Sure there have been the successes through interventions like stem cell transplants, radiotherapy and the HPV vaccine.  The mainstay of therapy in chemotherapy where most research dollars gets channelled in clinical trials has rarely resulted in breakthrough drugs that substantially improve the number of quality life years.

Concerted efforts have been successful in addressing smallpox, and substantively effective in North American in addressing tobacco.   Hence identifying some characteristics of where the return on investment would likely result in benefit might shift current expenditures to viable long term successes.  One of the keys is that prevention is needed long before the war on the problem is undertaken

Here are a couple of “wars” that have the potential to result in wins.

1.       Sexual predators – kudos to W5, Toronto Star and Miami Herald on their expose on Canadian exportation of sexual predatation Toronto Star article.   Slower but some progress is being made in countries like India where recent high profile incidents are causing considerable attention
2.       Polio and Dracanulosis – two diseases that once eradicated should never threaten humans again.
3.       Addictions -  alcohol, drugs, gambling – where prevention is key and early intervention is effective.

We invite nominations for other illnesses where directed and concerted efforts have the potential to lead to real winners. Leave a comment, or send your suggestion to drphealth@gmail.com 

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