Monday, November 24, 2014

American Seniors Number One in Poorest Health Worldwide

Seniors in America have more chronic health problems and take more medications than seniors in 10 other industrialized countries do, according to a new global survey. The United States also stood out among the 11 nations surveyed by The Commonwealth Fund for having more seniors struggling to get and afford the health care they need.
Eighty-seven percent of U.S. adults who are 65 and older suffer from at least one chronic illness, and 68 percent have at least two illnesses, which were the highest rates found, the survey showed. Also, 53 percent of older Americans take at least four medications, another record high, and 21 percent spend at least $2,000 in yearly out-of-pocket health care costs, which was second only to Switzerland.
"The retirement of baby boomers means pressure on Medicare will intensify," Dr. David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund, said during a news briefing Tuesday to announce the study findings, which were published online Nov. 19 in the journal Health Affairs. Despite the moderating of health care costs in recent years, Blumenthal added, "Costs are still going up too fast to be sustainable over the long term, and this will be exacerbated by increasing numbers of elderly individuals."
The study's lead author and Commonwealth Fund vice president, Robin Osborn, noted at the news briefing: "Those over 65 in the U.S. will almost double from 2005 to 2030. These sicker adults will likely put a strain on the health care system [which] will need to transform to meet the challenges of an aging population."
For the survey, the researchers collected responses from more than 15,000 older adults in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Most all of the other countries have some form of universal health insurance, and American seniors have Medicare, but Osborn said striking differences emerged in the survey:
Although the U.S. senior group was the youngest of all the countries in the report, they were also among the sickest: 25 percent of older Americans saw at least four doctors in the past year, second only to Germany at 39 percent.

In addition, more Americans (19 percent) said they skipped essential health care because they could not afford it, and 11 percent said they had trouble paying their medical bills. In France, only 3 percent of seniors said they skipped health care because of cost, and in Norway only 1 percent said they had trouble paying medical bills.

In terms of out-of-pocket costs, only the Swiss spent more than Americans. In the United States, 21 percent spent $2,000 or more a year, compared with 22 percent in Switzerland and 2 percent in the United Kingdom. In France, on the other hand, virtually no one spent out-of-pocket costs.

Only 57 percent of U.S. seniors said they were able to see their doctor the same or the next day when they were sick, compared with 83 percent in France and New Zealand, and 81 percent in Germany.

Americans use of emergency rooms was one of the highest, at 39 percent. Thirty-five percent of these visits were for conditions their doctors could have dealt with had they been available, the researchers found.

When a specialist was needed, 86 percent of U.S. seniors and 82 percent of seniors in Switzerland were able to see one within four weeks -- the highest rates in the survey. Seniors in Canada (46 percent), Norway (46 percent) and Sweden (50 percent) were the least likely to get appointments that quickly.

U.S. seniors, like seniors in the other countries, appear to suffer from poorly coordinated care or gaps in communication between doctors: 35 percent of U.S. seniors reported having such problems, as did 41 percent in Germany and 37 percent in Norway. In France, only 7 percent said they had these problems. But, the survey showed, American seniors also had better doctor/patient relationships than seniors in many other countries.


An expert who was not involved with the study had a simple explanation for the key findings on American senior illnesses. Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, said American seniors are sicker because of the inadequate care they received before they turned 65. "The health care system for the under-65 population is full of gaps, and lots of people fall through the cracks," she said. Woolhandler, who is also a professor of health at CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College in New York City, added that Medicare is also leaving many Americans under-insured and that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will not make a major difference. "We need to be providing much more comprehensive coverage to everyone, including lower co-pays and deductibles," she suggested.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Facts about Pakistan

Pakistan is situated in the western part of the Indian subcontinent in Asia, with Afghanistan and Iran on the west, India on the east, China in the north and the Arabian Sea on the south. 

Pakistan is officially called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The name Pakistan is derived from two word: pak (pure) and stan (land). Together they mean "land of the pure" in the Persian and Urdu languages.

Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan, however as of 2013 it was only the 9th largest city in the country with just over 1 million people.

The largest city in Pakistan is Karachi which is home to over 13 million people. It is the financial hub of the country and is a major seaport.

Islam, the principal religion of Pakistan, was introduced in 711. 

August 14th is Independence Day in Pakistan, a national holiday celebrating the date in 1947 on which Pakistan became an independent state.
The national flag of Pakistan was adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, just three days before the country's independence from Great Britain. The flag is a green field with a white crescent moon and five-rayed star at its center, and a vertical white stripe at the hoist side. The flag is referred to in the national anthem as the Flag of the Crescent and Star.
The population of Pakistan is 193 million people (193,238,868) as of July 2013. This makes Pakistan the 6th most populous country in the world surpassed only by China, India, the United States, Indonesia and Brazil.

A baby is born in Pakistan every seven seconds.
Pakistan's land covers some 796,095 km² (307,374 mi²) about the combined land area of France and the United Kingdom.

The national language of Pakistan is Urdu, although the official language is English. Other languages spoken include Saraiki, Punjabi, Pushto, Sindhi and Balochi.

The official currency of Pakistan is the Pakistani rupee.

The Indus area which covers the majority of Pakistan was home to some of the oldest known civilizations. The Neolithic Mehrgarh people and later the Indus Valley Civilization lived in the area as long as 9000 years ago.

A series of invaders, Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, and others, controlled the region for the next several thousand years.

In 1526, the land became part of the Mogul Empire, which ruled most of the Indian subcontinent from the 16th to the mid-18th century. 

By 1857, the British became the dominant power in the region. With Hindus holding most of the economic, social, and political advantages, the Muslim minority's dissatisfaction grew, leading to the formation of the nationalist Muslim League in 1906 by Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1876–1949). The league supported Britain in the Second World War while the Hindu nationalist leaders, Nehru and Gandhi, refused. In return for the league's support of Britain, Jinnah expected British backing for Muslim autonomy. 

Britain agreed to the formation of Pakistan as a separate dominion within the Commonwealth in August, 1947, a bitter disappointment to India's dream of a unified subcontinent. Jinnah became governor-general. The partition of Pakistan and India along religious lines resulted in the largest migration in human history, with 17 million people fleeing across the borders in both directions to escape the accompanying sectarian violence.

Pakistan was one of the two original successor states to British India, which was partitioned along religious lines in 1947. For almost 25 years following independence, it consisted of two separate regions, East and West Pakistan, but now it is made up only of the western sector. Both India and Pakistan have laid claim to the Kashmir region. The territorial dispute led to war in 1949, 1965, 1971, 1999, and remains unresolved today.

Pakistan became a republic on March 23, 1956, with Maj. Gen. Iskander Mirza as the first president. Military rule prevailed for the next two decades. 

Tensions between East and West Pakistan existed from the outset. Separated by more than a thousand miles, the two regions shared few cultural and social traditions other than religion. To the growing resentment of East Pakistan, West Pakistan monopolized the country's political and economic power.

In 1970, East Pakistan's Awami League, led by the Bengali leader Sheik Mujibur Rahman, secured a majority of the seats in the national assembly. President Yahya Khan postponed the opening of the national assembly to skirt East Pakistan's demand for greater autonomy, provoking civil war. 

The independent state of Bangladesh, or Bengali nation, was proclaimed on March 26, 1971. Indian troops entered the war in its last weeks, fighting on the side of the new state. Pakistan was defeated on Dec. 16, 1971, and President Yahya Khan stepped down. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over Pakistan and accepted Bangladesh as an independent entity. In 1976, formal relations between India and Pakistan resumed.

In the 1990s, Pakistan saw a shaky succession of governments: Benazir Bhutto was prime minister twice and deposed twice and Nawaz Sharif three times, until he was deposed in a coup on Oct. 12, 1999, by Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The Pakistani public, familiar with military rule for 25 of the nation's 52-year history, generally viewed the coup as a positive step and hoped it would bring a badly needed economic upswing.

Close ties with Afghanistan's Taliban government thrust Pakistan into a difficult position following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.

On Dec. 13, 2001, suicide bombers attacked the Indian parliament, killing 14 people. Indian officials blamed the attack on Islamic militants supported by Pakistan. Both sides assembled hundreds of thousands of troops along their common border, bringing the two nuclear powers to the brink of war.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a suicide attack on December 27, 2007, at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi. President Pervez Musharraf blamed al Qaeda for the attack, which killed 23 other people. Bhutto's supporters, however, accused Musharraf's government of orchestrating the combination bombing and shooting. Rioting throughout the country followed the attack, and the government shut down nearly all the country's services to thwart further violence. Bhutto had criticized the government for failing to control militants who have been unleashing terrorist attacks throughout Pakistan. In the wake of the assassination, Musharraf postponed parliamentary elections, which had been scheduled for Jan. 8, 2008, until Feb. 18. Scotland Yard investigators reported in February 2008 that Bhutto died of an injury to her skull.

On May 1, 2011, U.S. troops and CIA operatives shot and killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a city of 500,000 people that houses a military base and a military academy. A gun battle broke out when the troops descended upon the building in which bin Laden was located, and bin Laden was shot in the head. News of bin Laden's death brought cheers and a sense of relief worldwide. However, the fact that bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan in a compound located in close proximity to a military base strained the already distrustful relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. That is because Pakistan for a long time denied that bin Laden was hiding within its borders and also because the U.S. had provided Pakistan with about $1 billion each year to fight terrorism and to track down bin Laden. And, in Pakistan, officials and legislators questioned how the military did not detect several U.S. helicopters entering and leaving Abbottabad and wondered about its ability to protect the country and its nuclear arsenal.

The U.S. achieved an important victory over the Taliban with the November 2013 assassination of Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan. He died in a CIA drone strike in Danday Darpa Khel, a militant stronghold in North Waziristan. While the government expressed outrage that the U.S. overstepped its boundaries, many citizens indicated they were relieved about the death of a man whose group has destabilized and terrorized the country. The Pakistani Taliban is responsible for the death of thousands of Pakistanis mostly through suicide bombings and has been battling the country's army in the tribal belt. The drone program has come under fire in Pakistan and in the U.S., as opponents say the attacks have claimed far too many civilians. However, a report by Pakistan's defense ministry released days before Mehsud's death found that since 2008, the drone strikes had killed 2,160 militants and 67 civilians- far fewer civilians than expected. 

Pakistan became the first Islamic country to become Nuclear Power on May 28th,1998.  Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, was exposed in Feb. 2004 for having sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran, and Libya. Musharraf had him apologize publicly, and then pardoned him. While much of the world reviled him for this unconscionable act of nuclear proliferation, the scientist remains a national hero in Pakistan. Khan claimed that he alone and not Pakistan's military or government was involved in the selling of these ultra-classified secrets; few in the international community have accepted this explanation.

The massive Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges to the North of Pakistan contain 5 of the 14 mountain peaks in the world over 8000 m (26,250 ft) high. Including the world’s second highest mountain, K2 at 8611 m (28,251 ft) and Nanga Parbat at 8126 m (26,660 ft).

Pakistan's Arakoram Highway is the highest highway in the world. It was constructed 15,397 above sea level and is between China and Pakistan. It is one of the most popular tourist attraction in the region.

Gwadar port is the largest deep sea port in the world, located on the southwestern Arabian Sea along the coast line of Balochistan, Pakistan. This  port is considered a lifeline in the region’s economy. 
Pakistan has agreed on a collaboration with China  to turn Gwadar into a full scale commercial port.

The Khewara Salt Mines are the world’s second largest and Pakistan’s oldest salt mines.  It was discovered by the invading Alexander, the Great’s troops in 320 B.C. These salt mines are the largest source of salt in the world producing 350,000 tons per year. However, the salt mines reserves are estimated to be about 600 million tons.

Pakistan is the world’s second-largest producer of chickpeas behind India. 

The world’s biggest irrigation network is in Pakistan. It serves 14.4 million hectares of cultivated land. The irrigation system is fed by water from the Indus River. The main features of the system are its three major storage reservoirs (Tarbela and Chashma on the River Indus and Mangla on the River Jhelum); 19 barrages (diverging dams); 12 inter-river link canals and 43 independent irrigation canals. The total length of the main canals is 58,500 km.

Pakistan's Edhi Foundation is the world’s largest non-profit social welfare organization. This organization provides 24-hour emergency services, medical & healthcare services and shelters for orphans. Abdul Sattar Edhi started the service from a single room and it now has over 300 centers all over the country. It has branches in other countries such as UK, USA, Canada, Japan and China.

Shandur Top is located in Gilgit, Pakistan. It is often called “Roof of the World” because it is at 12,200 feet above seal level. Every year a polo match is played in a stadium between the Gilgit and Chitral teams in the highest stadium in the world. People from all around the world come to watch this match.

Pakistan's national sport is field hockey. The country has had a lot of success in the sport having won the Olympic gold medal 3 times in 1960, 1968, and 1984, and the Hockey World Cup 4 times in 1971, 1978, 1982, and 1994.

Cricket is the most popular sport in Pakistan. The national team won the Cricket World Cup in 1992 and were World Twenty20 champions in 2009.

The national drink of Pakistan is Sugarcane juice. In Urdu, it is called "roh". The juice is usually only sold by roadside vendors throughout the country.

In 1979 Abdus Salam won Pakistan’s only Nobel Prize by sharing the physics award.

Interesting Quotes by Interesting People

You may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There's another day you might want to know about: Giving Tuesday. The idea is pretty straightforward. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, shoppers take a break from their gift-buying and donate what they can to charity. - Bill Gates - (born:1955)
When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. - Walt Disney (1901-1966)
Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. - Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.- Dr. Seuss (1904-1999)
Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop. - H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please. - Mark Twain (1835-1910)
When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity. - John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. - Buddha (563BC-483BC)
Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us. - Martin Luther (1453-1546)
Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven. - William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. - Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993)
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. - Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. - Muhammad Ali (born: 1942)
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night. - Steve Martin (born: 1945)
Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death. - Robert Fulghum (born: 1937)
Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.- Helen Keller (1880-1963)
Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble. - Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)
Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. - Leo Buscaglia (1924-1998)
Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. - Anais Nin (1903-1977)