WHO Cares

By Scott LaFee

March 5, 2020 5 min read

The World Health Organization has issued a list of urgent global health challenges that must be addressed in this decade. They are, in no particular order:

— "Elevating health in the climate debate

— "Delivering health in conflict and crisis

— "Making healthcare fairer

— "Expanding access to medicines

— "Stopping infectious diseases

— "Preparing for epidemics

— "Protecting people from dangerous products

— "Investing in the people who defend our health

— "Keeping adolescents safe

— "Earning public trust"

— Harnessing new technologies

— Protecting the medicines that protect us, i.e. antibiotic resistance

— Keeping health care clean, i.e. access to clean water

Get Me That, Stat!

According to a Pew Research Center study, 88% of Americans surveyed believe the benefits of the early childhood measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR vaccine, outweigh the risks. The percentage who say the MMR vaccine has high preventive health benefits grew by 11 points to 56% from 45% in 2016.

Mark Your Calendar

March is national awareness month for a lot of what ails us: multiple sclerosis, colorectal cancer, endometriosis, traumatic brain injury, trisomy (an inherited chromosomal disorder), bleeding disorders and, well, your kidneys.


30: Percentage decrease in opioid prescriptions for people who went to emergency departments between 2006 and 2017

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Doc Talk

Deglutition: act of swallowing.

Phobia of the Week

Agyrophobia: fear of crossing streets.

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating speed-eating record for tamales is 95 2-ounce tamales in 10 minutes, held by Geoffrey Esper.


"So many people spend their health gaining wealth and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health." — A.J. Reb Materi

Medical History

This week in 1991, the "Rotoblator" debuted at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology. Employing a diamond head rotating at 200,000 rpm on a small shaft (only nine-thousandths of an inch), the tool could be inserted inside a clogged artery to grind away obstructions, most notably hardened, calcified blockages. The obstructions were pulverized into particles smaller than the size of a red blood cell, which then harmlessly exited through the bloodstream.

Perishable Publications

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, complex words and opaque phrases like "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't, and yet they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of actual published research study: "Music-induced context preference following cocaine conditioning in rats."

In 2011, researchers at Albany Medical College in New York played songs by Beethoven and Miles Davis to rats, quickly to discover that the rats generally preferred silence but tended to opt for Beethoven over the celebrated jazz trumpeter Davis.

The researchers then injected the rats with cocaine. Poll over, Beethoven. Under the influence, the rats seemed to like Davis a lot more. They concluded that the rats became conditioned to expect a cocaine high when listening to Davis, which apparently made his cool jazz all the more cooler.

Food for Thought

Things we put in the stuff we eat: Carageenan is typically found in nondairy milks, ice cream and salad dressings. It's a natural thickener and an emulsifier derived from seaweed.

Med School

Q: Can you name the nine abdominopelvic regions?

A: Imagine a tic-tac-toe diagram on your abdomen. Beginning in the upper right below the check and going clockwise, there are nine quadrants: right hypochondriac region, epigastric region, left hypochondriac region, left lumbar region, left inguinal region, hypogastic region, right inguinal region, right lumbar region and, smack in the middle, the umbilical region.

Hypochondriac in this context is an anatomical descriptor. Epigastric means upon or over the stomach. Lumbar refers to the lower back. Inguinal means groin. Hypogastric refers to the lower central abdomen.

Last Words

"I'm in no pain. No pain. Don't cry for me, Rahaman. I'm going to be with Allah. I made peace with God. I'm OK. Rahaman, how do I look?" — legendary boxer Muhammad Ali (1942-2016), speaking to his brother, Rahaman

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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