As nursing students, my classmates and I learned that it was better to be a pear than an apple. Our nutrition professor taught us the limitations of simple BMI calculations, favoring hip-to-waist ratio measurements as more accurate determinants of long-term health. We were to hone in on patients who carried excess weight in their waistlines instead of in their hips or buttocks. These patients, we were told, were predisposed to obesity, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes.
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers may not be surprised but parents of teenagers will likely be alarmed. A study just published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 25 percent of American teenage girls have at least one sexually transmitted infection. Among the African American study participants, the rate of sexually transmitted infections rose to nearly 50 percent.
My cell phone rang as I was helping another nurse wrap things up for the week in the Care and Treatment clinic. I quickly recognized the soft-spoken voice of one of my supervisors, a young Tanzanian physician.
The police officers named the baby Jesca. Apparently, if you find a baby, wailing from inside the empty confines of the TAMCO factory lot at 10 p.m. you are awarded unchallenged authorship over the blank page of her. I suppose, as melodramatic as it must sound, Jesca does owe her life to the policeman who discerned her bundled, mewling cries from underneath a moonlit shrub.
Decisions about childhood immunizations ultimately rest with parents. Still, concerned parents are pitted against public health experts in a tense debate around the pros and cons of vaccinating kids. As more and more families refuse the battery of shots which protect children against diseases such as meningitis and pertussis, public health risks rise for everyone.
In This Issue
Liz Di Bernardo