Saturday, June 16, 2007

In the News...

The Turkish Daily News reports on reforms to the Turkish health system where it appears that people insured by social insurance can also use the private sector and the state pays, the way I understand it. Maybe the state system has insufficient capacity - I suspect also that the coverage of social insurance is not universal.

Amongst other provisions the new law will bring:

  • treatment requiring an overnight stay will be covered, as will ambulances, even between cities.
  • the disabled will be able to apply to all health institutions for dental treatment.
  • those using medicine for a long time will be able to buy (buy!) medicine for up to 2 years without a prescription.
  • Circumcision charges will be paid by the state.
  • 'Under the necessary situations' the appointment process will not exceed 10 days (could we have that in the UK, please?)
  • At least one full-time medical expert under the age of 65 will be available.
It makes you wonder how Turkish hospitals are staffed, and why do they seem to lack young doctors? For Turks it's not so easy to go to the UK as for EU member state citizens.

Also in Marmaris (Turkey) Europe's largest (and Turkey's first) hotel for the disabled has opened, catering for the blind, the disabled and the autistic and their families. There are three of these in Europe, the whole of Europe. The question should of course be asked whether persons with disabilities should be 'ghetto-ised' in specific places - and indeed they should not. But one should also bear in mind situations that have arisen where groups of disabled where put out of hotels because the other guests complained, and the fact that at least here one knows that access problems should be resolved. If you are disabled it's bad enough entering a pool with a hoist thingy, but if there is no hoist-thingy, and you need to be manhandled into the pool that's rather degrading.  Not sure what's the answer to this, but I suppose it offers people a choice.

I'm not convinced also about the combination of blind, disabled (wheelchairs, presumably) and autistic. The article goes on to explain that for the 'mentally distorted the hotel has a stimulation room'.  That sound's a bit like Edna Everage's late husband Norm's condition of 'terminal bewilderment'. Not sure that if I were mentally distorted, I would want to have stimulation on top of that.....Even a perfectly English-speaking paper like the Turkish Daily News gets its language in a knot sometimes.

The International Herald Tribune is a paper I usually avoid, but having finished my book, no opportunity to buy a paper one has to make do with what one's got. Actually it's more European than I thought - it's the international edition - and it's not too bad, really. One lives and learns.

It reports on the fact that Americans are now, on average, shorter than Europeans, even when comparing white American with Europeans (not sure whether with white Europeans or all Europeans), taking out the hispanic factor. Until the mid 20th century Americans were generally taller; but now they are shorter, and, er, wider (though perhaps not for long, at least in the case of the UK).  It's blamed on bad childhood conditions - in the recent Unicef study of 21 developed countries, America came second last in quality of childhood, with the last being the UK (beaten amongst others by Poland, Hungary and Portugal. Poland - I ask you!, they don't even have the benefit of a mild climate ike Hungary and Portugal).  The article also mentions the astonishing class differences in height in the UK, where it states that 15 year old Sandhurst students are on average 9 inches taller than children of the same age of another school nearby. (Leaving aside the fact that I did not think Sandhurst took in 15-year-olds).  I remember those differences well from my home visiting days for the social security where poor people, and especially those from generations of benefits recipients, were very often significantly short. My British-born son, just a smidgeon under 6 ft, a very reasonable height, reported finding himself amongst the smaller people when he studied in Germany for a year.

I see that the US is planning to require travellers to lodge their travel itinerary across the US 48 hours before departure. Just like the former Soviet Union where you had to state clearly which towns you were going to visit (and you got permission only to visit those). Only recently they were discussing asking British people of Pakistani origin for visas.  Glad to see we are making social progress.

The planes of the future will be made from plastic; this will amongst other things save on fuel since the planes will be lighter. I suppose when one falls out of the sky it does not make much difference whether it's a metal tube or a plastic tube - but it does have a ring of the Reliant Robin about it.

Talking of airline security - managed to break probably 25 rules on this today when I arrived at Istanbul airport with half an hour before my next plane. Needless to say there was some anxiety about missing the plane. Suddenly I spotted, from the bus taking us into the terminal, the bus for the Tbilisi flight sitting a mere 10 metres from where we were getting off. So I just stepped gently aside and wandered into the Tbilisi exit door from the wrong side. The staff bore it with stoicism. No baggage search of course, nor any detailed question of where I had just wandered in from!  But is my luggage on the plane, too? Time will tell.

PS - it wasn't.

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