Healthcare in the U.S. continues to be under threat. With conservative lawmakers incessantly promoting bills aiming to cut healthcare programmes and big pharma corporations eager to squeeze every possible penny out of consumers, many Americans find themselves unable to access quality healthcare. Nurx is a company trying to improve this sordid state of affairs and make the healthcare maze easier to navigate for the average American.
Founded by Hans Gangeskar and Dr. Edvard Engesæth, Nurx seeks to revolutionise the landscape of primary care through the internet. Using its website or app, people from across the country can order home-testing kits, consult with world-class doctors, and order prescription drugs which will be delivered straight to their door without charge. Primary care as a whole is a hefty beast to tackle. And so, the company currently focuses primarily on one aspect of healthcare: sexual health. Nurx provides its users access to birth control pills, HIV PrEP, HPV Screening tests, and emergency contraception (the day after pill).
In general, the user simply needs to indicate which type of medication they’re interested in (or consult a member of Nurx’s medical team should they need guidance), answer a set of questions, and provide their insurance information (if they have any). Then, a Nurx-approved doctor will review the request and issue a prescription if approved, which will then be delivered for free to the customer’s house in a discreet package.
Users interested in PrEP, for instance—a daily pill for HIV prevention for people not infected with the virus—may submit their request through the Nurx website or app by answering several simple questions about their health and sexual activity. The users then have to pay a $12 consultation fee which covers online medical consultation, review of the lab results (which may be done at home with a testing-kit), and unlimited texting about PrEP with the company’s medical until their due for renewal (once every three months). Nurx either submits a claim to the user’s insurance company for the cost of the drug or helps them find a payment assistance programme if they are uninsured. Currently, 99 percent of the company’s patients do not pay for PrEP.
Nurx also significantly facilitate women’s access to birth control, which in the current political state in the U.S. does not come as a matter of fact. The company’s medical team provides recommendations for women who are unsure which type of birth control to use, and helps them find the one that is most appropriate for their needs. Users may also turn to them with any questions relating to the medication, its usage, and side effects.
What makes this company so noteworthy is the complete anonymity it guarantees its patients. Fears of ‘getting caught’ at a sex-health clinic discourage many from accessing sexual health services, particularly in communities in which sex and sexuality are regarded as taboo. Nurx’s method tackles these issues and increases the likelihood of people seeking out help.
Start-ups such as Nurx cannot come instead of solid government-sponsored healthcare programmes. That said, we can’t wait until lawmakers get their act together either. Healthcare access is urgent, and its lack thereof harms society as a whole. And so, while people across the country fight for their right to quality, free healthcare, it helps to have initiatives that make health services reachable and affordable.
Anti-vaxxers, also known as people who are opposed to vaccination, typically a parent who refuses to vaccinate their child, must be stopped. The anti-vaccination movement, which continues to grow, is a main source of worry for scientists who are sure vaccines work, but it should also be one for the rest of us. Measles (among other diseases) is on the rise once again, and reviews found that there is a correlation between the two problems. Here’s what is wrong with anti-vaxxers and what needs to be done.
The anti-vaccination movement comes from the idea that there’s a connection between vaccination and autism, as well as other brain disorders. This idea rests upon no scientific evidence, but as you’ve probably realised by now, the same can be said about many other beliefs in our increasingly disbelieving world.
Measles is a disease more contagious than Tuberculosis or Ebola, yet it is easily preventable with a vaccine that barely costs anything. When measles was declared to be eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, everyone thought—rightly so—that it was thanks to vaccines. And yet here we are, in 2019, with parents knowingly withholding their children from something that could save them from potential brain damage and death. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2018 measles cases in the U.S. went up six-fold while they tripled across Europe.
The situation is so bad that even Trump, who only a year ago ‘flirted’ with notorious anti-vaxxers and repeatedly linked vaccinations to autism, declared that people “have to get their shots”. In other words, if even Trump takes these outbreaks seriously, this is not something to disregard. This entirely preventable emergency that started in March this year should be a lesson to everyone about how unfortunate a world without vaccines would be.
A few months after the outbreak, anti-vaxxers are still going strong, lowering herd immunity quickly. In the U.K., Prince Charles’ mission to save homeopathy is reenforcing the public’s distrust in medical science. How? By promoting homeopathy as a miracle remedy, one that hasn’t been provided by the NHS since 2017 and has been described by its chief executive Simon Stevens as “at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds”.
The anti-vaccination movement comes exactly from the growing public distrust of vaccines, but also in science, in the government, and in the pharmaceutical industry more broadly. So what can we do, really, apart from making vaccines mandatory for everyone? Tackling fake news and misinformation, especially fake medical news on social media, would be a first step.
In March 2016, even Robert De Niro dabbled in this affair by promoting the anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe and pushing for the film to be featured in the Tribeca Film Festival. A few days after, De Niro decided not to include the film, most likely realising the larger-scale impact that this could have on the country’s already declining health.
Lastly, it shouldn’t be forgotten that more people are involved in the whole vaccination drama and therefore should be held accountable. Health professionals have to take accountability or be made to do so in this matter as well. We need to ensure that doctors giving shots are equipped with concrete information and available to talk to those who have concerns, so that parents can feel like they’re making well-informed decisions.
Conspiracy theories are fine and should be left alone to thrive on Reddit as long as they’re not hurting people in the process. People that don’t make the effort to promote vaccination are unknowingly allowing anti-vaxxers to do their damage. Anti-vaxxers should be called out—by the government, by doctors, by you, me—so that putting kids’ vaccination ‘on hold’ becomes shocking and taboo again. It’s a matter of life and death.