What ground my gears (and otherwise irritated me) this week: Ebola hysteria, infection control terminology, and the US abortion wars

Friday, October 17, 2014

I was posting often when I launched this blog at the beginning of the year, but then things got slow during my travels and after I came back to the states and was job searching. Now that I have settled into my new position, I am able to post here more frequently and am beginning to wonder if I should set some routines or designate certain days for regular features, like so many other global health blogs do. Fridays seem to be popular (e.g., WhyDev's Last Week Today and my personal favorite, Wronging Rights's WTF Friday). I'll have to meditate on establishing a "Peeves of the Week," or "What Ground my Gears This Week" routine, but a preliminary assessment confirms that it suits my character pretty well.

Maybe I'll go with the "Gears" option; after all, I love memes.

Gear Grinder #1: Ebola hysteria and the media's inability to use "isolation" and "quarantine" correctly
I sometimes wonder if public health professionals are doomed to a lifetime of exasperation with crappy media coverage of health topics. Global health bloggers already constantly bitch that the media's m.o. is to ignore diseases until they become relevant, and then to immediately transition into full-blown PANIC! mode. On top of the overal doomsday tone, however, I have noticed that most news stories seem to use the terms "isolation" and "quarantine" interchangeably, when they actually mean two very different things:
  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
Get it right, people. It's not that hard.

Gear Grinder #2: The ongoing US abortion war, otherwise known as "the never-ending public debate in which people scream past each other"

I make it a point to pretty much never get into this topic, because most people can't seem to stay rational while discussing the issues of abortion and contraception. But today conservate troll blogger Matt Walsh (along with a zillion others) offered his take on the woman who posted an open letter to the "little life [she] won't get to meet" to Reddit. Cue controversy. What consistently frustrates me, among other things, is how it doesn't occur to anyone that young women who become pregnant unexpectedly might not feel so trapped if the relatively commonplace life event of having a child in America didn't cost a fortune or severely damage women's career prospects. In fact, this image of a hospital bill following a C-section birth in Philadelphia went viral this week:

Remember, my fellow Americans, we live in one of the only countries in the developed world without any kind of guaranteed paid maternity leave or subsidized childcare. Perhaps pro-life advocates who want young pregnant women to "choose life" should make it so that pregnancy doesn't have to be such a bloody crisis.

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