The Doctor's Consultation:
by Dr. Iain Corness
How to stop feeling old
You’re only as old as the woman
you feel, is a well known ditty around some of the bars. That means there
must be a lot of 18 year olds drawing British old age pensions!
However, despite the flippant first paragraph, aging, growing older if you
like, does happen to the majority of us. The exceptions to this golden oldie
rule ride motorcycles in Thailand. (You work it out!)
If you’ve been having a bad day, console yourself by picking up a text book
on Geriatric Medicine! Gloom, doom and disaster! However, the picture is not
really as bad as all that, so I thought that this week I would go through
the aging process, and then what we can do about it. The recipe for the
elixir of youth is not enclosed, but instead, some ways you can stay feeling
Let’s begin with the depressing news that you have actually been going
downhill since the age of 14 (mentally) and from the age of around 30
(physically). That other bar-room ditty that relates to what you used to do
all night, now taking all night to do, can be too close to the mark for some
of us. But don’t despair, help is at hand. Metaphorically, not literally!
The geriatric books suggest that the aging of our individual organs is
influenced by diet, environment, personal habits and genetic factors. Read
that again - did you notice that three of them (diet, environment, habits)
are actually under our control, so the angle of the slippery slide can be
changed. Good News number one.
The physiological changes associated with aging include an increase in body
fat (especially around the middle in beer drinkers), a difficulty in reading
and a clouding of the optic lens. Glucose metabolism goes a little awry as
well, as we get older. In the lungs, the elasticity goes out of the lung
tissue, meaning that the lungs don’t absorb the oxygen as well as they
It doesn’t end there. The arteries become less elastic too, so the heart has
to pump harder to force the blood around, increasing blood pressure and
enlarging the heart. The liver doesn’t cope as well with toxic chemicals as
it used to, and the bowel gets a little lazy as well, leading to
constipation. For men, the prostate slowly enlarges and makes it difficult
for the bladder to empty properly, so you have to get up to pee a few times
a night. Finally, the brain shrinks and you begin to forget things, “I’ll
never forget what’s-her-name” being a real problem!
So what to do? The main thing is to make sure your organs get enough oxygen
to work properly. Oxygen gets into the blood via the lungs. Clogged air sacs
in the lungs is a big problem. Answer? Stop smoking - immediately, and get
some exercise every day, so that you start to use the lungs, and their vital
Now we have some oxygen back in the blood we have to circulate the magic red
fluid. Cholesterol build-up in the arteries produces blockages. Reverse it
by lowering cholesterol in your diet. You do this by decreasing animal fats
and increasing vegetables. That’s not too difficult either, is it? Half way
to the elixir of youth already!
Now the sugar problems. Another one with an easy fix - cut out all the
‘extra’ sugar in your diet. You don’t have to use sugar in your coffee, and
chocolates should be a very occasional indulgence only. (Are you listening,
The liver? The main toxic substance the poor old liver has to deal with is
ethanol, otherwise known as booze, and it makes no difference to the liver
what the label was on the bottle. Give the liver one day a week to recover.
That’s called your AFD (alcohol free day).
So look at the three items again under your control - diet, environment,
habits. The answer to aging is there. Begin with fags, fat, booze and fancy
foods. It’s the right start.
Heart to Heart
couple of weeks ago, I received the following letter:
The other day my wife came by a rather interesting bottle of Cuvee
Speciale. As we will be in your neck of the woods in a week or so,
please allow me to drop off a bottle for your approval. I would be
interested in your thoughts of this particular vintage.
Your Gordon Islander
Dear Gordon Islander,
I did reply when you told me that the goodies were coming, and I did
indeed receive the bottle of Cuvee Speciale shortly after that, and it
was with much anticipation I picked up the bottle. It was strangely
light and didn’t go ‘glurg-glurg’ when shaken. I was about to accuse the
messenger boy of drinking the contents until I unwrapped it, to find a
wonderful plastic champagne bottle (methode plastique champenoise, I
suppose to be politically correct) filled with chocolates! Thank you,
thank you, Gordon Islander and Elisa. Of course I was left wondering for
a while just how did they get them stuffed into a bottle, but it did not
take long to work out that the bottom unscrewed. Nothing screwy about
Hillary, I tell you. Thanks for the thought, thanks for the fun, and I
hope you enjoyed your holiday here!
My wife insists on sitting on the floor when her friends come over for a
meal. It seems that as soon as three or four of them get together, out
comes the grinding bowl and then they sit on a mat and yak and eat for
the next two hours. I don’t want to stop her fun when her friends come
over, but why does she sit on the floor? We have a perfectly good table
and chairs for them all to use.
Don’t be baffled, Petal. I am sure your wife comes from Isan, and her
friends likewise. Their custom is to eat from communal bowls while
sitting on the floor, and is no more strange than your custom where you
eat from communal bowls while sitting at a table. As you say, don’t do
anything to stop her fun. For Thai people fun (sanook) is very
important. I am sure she has told you “Don’t be too serious.” I agree.
I know you are always telling the guys to be careful with the girls in
the bars, but surely there are some good ones out there. They certainly
know how to take care of a guy, and that’s the reason we come over here,
isn’t it. Nobody from home would ever take care of you the way these
girls do. So what’s the real danger? Maybe you lose a bit of cash, but
that’s nothing compared to the fun (which is really harmless).
Dear Bar Guy,
Liked your pseudonym - Bar Guy, the champion of the bar girls. The ‘real
danger’ as you call it, is that there is more than just losing ‘a bit of
cash’ that happens. Instead of it remaining ‘fun’, the western man gets
serious about his ‘fun’ lady. Then he loses all sense of proportion, all
‘common sense’ and eventually everything he possesses. I have been
contacted by men who have sold their house in the UK, for example, just
to buy a house for the girlfriend’s family, plus others for uncles,
aunts, cousins and so on. Unfortunately this is not the ‘harmless’ fun
that you put forward. And a lot more than ‘a bit of cash’. Certainly, if
you can keep your hormones in check and not go head over heels in love,
you will enjoy the bar scene, just as much as the girl likes being paid
for her company. Make no mistake, the bar girl is not going with you
because she thinks you are the greatest hunk she’s ever seen. It is a
straight out financial transaction. Remember that she is a ‘mia chow’
(rented wife). You pay - she delivers. You don’t pay - she’s gone. And
unless you’ve been careful, your wallet has gone as well. Like in all
rental agreements, read the fine print!
I want to join a woman’s group here. I am a bored ex-pat wife and am
European multi-lingual, so language spoken is not really a problem. What
I am looking for is a group of women who are not “bitchy”. My husband’s
contract is for three years and I do not wish to get involved in small
town politics. Relocation is enough of an upset without making enemies
by being involved with the “wrong” people. What ones are you in? Please
Like all things in life, it’s horses for courses. Women’s groups, like
all clubs and societies, have good and bad members. Some are angled
towards special interests like yoga or sewing, others towards charity
work. Hillary only belongs to the Secret Society of Advisors for the
Lost and Lonely so I cannot give you first hand advice on which to join.
Look in this paper each week and you will get contact numbers for clubs
and associations. Try before you buy is my motto. Remember that there
are also mixed groups that might suit you more. Good luck!
Camera Class: by
Do you need the latest super-digital SLR?
of the most famous portrait photographers was Sir Cecil Beaton.
Don’t worry if you don’t remember him, he died 27 years ago, but
look up any book on portrait photographers and he gets a star
billing. Cecil was a real photographer in the fact that he had
an ‘eye’ for the final picture, but he was not at all skilled in
the mumbo-jumbo of photographic technique.
Beaton’s first camera was a Kodak 3A folding camera. Over the
course of his career, he employed both large format cameras and
smaller Rolleiflex cameras; however, many of his best portraits
were taken with a Box Brownie. A Box Brownie! Hardly the epitome
of cutting edge cameras.
During the Second World War, Beaton was initially posted to the
Ministry of Information and given the task of recording images
from the home front. During this assignment he captured one of
the most enduring images of British suffering during the war,
that of three-year old Blitz victim Eileen Dunne recovering in
hospital, clutching her beloved teddy bear. When the image was
published, America had not yet officially joined the war - but
splashed across the press in the USA, images such as Beaton’s
helped push the American public to put pressure on their
government to help Britain in WW II. Make no mistake, the power
of a photograph is not produced by the equipment. It is the way
the subject matter is presented. And that is under the
photographer’s control. The photographer’s “eye”.
Famous glamour photographer Francis Giacobetti used a Contax 35
mm for his photography, including when he shot the Pirelli
calendar, I believe. Large format calendar pictures taken with a
small format camera. Once again, the “eye” far outweighs the
So do you need the very latest super mega-pixeled SLR with
lenses covering everything between 12 mm to 1,200 mm? The simple
answer is no. The first thing you need to have to take superb
photographs is that “photographic eye”. I am not saying that
good equipment is superfluous, but what I am saying is that the
final arbiter is the human eye. How you got the photograph is
incidental and even unimportant. The final picture is the only
really important factor in photography.
So is the photographic eye something you are born with, or
something you develop? Such semantics are beyond the confines of
this article, but I believe that it is something which may come
more naturally to some folk than others, but it is still a
concept anyone can master.
It is worthwhile taking a few ideas on board. First, try looking
at the whole picture you are about to take. Do not get so
totally engrossed in the subject that you fail to see an
intrusive background. “Antlers” growing out of someone’s head
does not make a great photograph, unless the subject is called
Composition is important. The first rule of composition is to
“Look for a Different viewpoint”. While the standard, “Put the
Subject in the Middle of the Viewfinder” idea will at least
ensure that you do get a picture of the subject, it will also
ensure that your photographs will most likely be dull and
In attempting to get that different viewpoint also try to take
some shots not from the standard eye-level position. Squat down,
lie down, stand in the back of a pick-up, climb a ladder -
anything! Just don’t get stuck with standard eye-level views. If
nothing else, take two shots, one in the “usual” horizontal
format and the second one in a vertical (portrait) format.
That’s at least a start!
The next way to add interest to your photographs is to take the
subject out of the geometric center of the frame. Be brave and
place the subject one third in from either edge of the
viewfinder. Just by placing your subject off-center immediately
drags your shot out of the “ordinary” basket. The technocrats
call this the “Rule of Thirds”, but you don’t need to know the
name for it - just try putting the subjects off-center.
Finally for this weekend, walk several meters closer! It will
produce much better shots.
Money Matters: Paul Gambles
MBMG International Ltd.
Portfolio Construction - Part 12
There are very few active equity portfolios within
portfolios available - i.e. individual funds tend to be characterised by the
style of their manager and aren’t sufficiently adaptive to circumstances.
There are a few and we’re able to buy and stick with because at the
individual fund level they’re actively making the necessary changes.
A good example is Orbis Global Equity and the same manager’s absolute return
funds, Optimal and Leveraged. The former has the remit to hunt the world’s
stock markets for realizable value from equities and does so without either
closet or rigid benchmarks, the absolute return funds have similar criteria
but with the intention of sacrificing return in order to reduce volatility
and risk of loss. This freedom from benchmarking sets them apart from 99% of
global equity investments - as does their stock-picking ability. It’s
interesting to read in one of their more recent commentaries, however, that
picking the right stocks can become blurred by the impact upon their funds
of the currently prevailing M&A activity.
This makes sense - the value of impartial, active, smart stock-pickers
should be that they lead the market which eventually does catch up. M&A
sometimes speeds this process, although in the Nikko Cordial case it can
result in ‘too little, too soon’ if the buyers have enough weight to throw
However, let’s look at the real issue - how well have the Orbis funds
performed within our client portfolios and for their other clients over the
last 17 years:
||Last 3 Yrs
|Orbis Global Equity Fund
|FTSE World Index
|Average Global Equity Fund
|Absolute Return Funds
|Orbis Optimal (US$) Fund
|Orbis Leveraged (US$) Fund
|US$ Bank Deposits
|Average US$ Bond Fund
Slam dunk - Global equity has outperformed both the index and the average
fund over the last 1 month, 3 months, 3 years, 5 years and 17 years. Optimal
and Leveraged have outperformed both bank deposits and bond funds over the
same timescales. These portfolios are actively managed according to risk,
opportunity and the changing economic landscape. In both relative and in
absolute returns - how do all 3 of these funds compare to other
opportunities at similar risk levels and above all do they satisfy our first
criteria of outperforming cash, they’re sufficiently flexible in their
approach to have achieved acceptable returns in all conditions and while
they continue to do so I would envisage that they remain a part of our
To be held throughout the cycle, a portfolio allocation needs either to be
able to generate sufficient Alpha (i.e. to yield returns because of manager
skill irrespective of the sector that it invests in) or to be able to
genuinely capture Beta from a variety of non-correlated markets (Orbis is
the proof of the contention that money can be made from equities even in
falling markets) otherwise it will need to be bought and sold actively as
Brandeaux, as we have discussed before, is a typical example of a fund that
for a period within the cycle should be bought and then sold. The Orbis
funds are much more unusual in their suitability to be held throughout the
vast majority of the cycle. There are a few other examples - Turnstone’s
long/short funds that manage to outperform the equity markets on the upside
while also offering downside protection and Man’s diverse trend-following
CTA funds, which aim to make acceptable returns in all conditions.
So, portfolio construction should be an active adaptive process - the
putting together of a disparate range of assets connected by the matrices of
their correlations and abilities to generate returns in the potential range
of economic conditions ahead.
To be continued…
The above data and research was compiled from
sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd
nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in
the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as
a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading
the above article. For more information please contact Paul Gambles on
Life in Chiang Mai:
by Mark Whitman
Leaving the Maze Café on Boonruangrit Road a few evening
ago, Nui, my Thai partner, stopped at the large junction with Huay Kaew
Road. As we waited a couple of guys jumped the lights, heading into the
city. A couple more, anticipated the change of lights in their favor by a
second or two and a third motorbike with three people on board made the
legal but potentially hazardous left turn into the traffic.
Seconds later eight young people were splattered on the road and began to
painfully right themselves and their vehicles. Some were in the wrong, all
were careless, and none were wearing a crash helmet. No one died and the
traffic moved on. You’ve seen similar incidents a dozen times.
The suicide rate in Thailand is, according to recent figures, in decline.
One day I suppose the police and other authorities will clamp down on the
unofficial ‘suicide’ rate which we see daily on the roads. The consequences
run deep throughout Thai society but the problem is tackled piecemeal
I was asked to join the Four Seasons ‘World Gourmet Evening’ last Sunday.
There was an abundance of good wine and fine food prepared by five
international chefs. I sought and found suitable offerings at the ‘food
centers’ for a non meat eater but was constantly urged to try the pate de
foie gras. I never comment on what people eat but when an American friend
repeatedly urged me to try it I could not resist commenting that I thought
it a vile produce – the result of virtually torturing the geese whose livers
Many restaurants refuse to serve it, which seems like some sign of progress
along with the British abhorrence of veal. There is a growing
acknowledgement that even if animals are reared for consumption there is no
need to ill treat them during their lives.
The reply I got was one of agreement, except, ‘when I’m faced with the
chance of eating something so delicious my conscience goes out of the
window’. It seems a feeble response when so many alternatives are available.
Writing of responsibility for one’s actions reminds me of a new movie which
I saw at Airport Plaza last week. Unambiguously titled The Brave One, it
stars Jodie Foster as a radio journalist, who, after suffering a hideous
attack in which her fiancé is beaten to death, recovers physically but not
mentally and goes on a revenge spree. Good central performances and an even
better supporting one from Mary Steenburgen as Jodie’s boss help obscure the
narrative flaws but not the dubious premise of the whole enterprise.
It harks back to the vigilante movies of decades ago, including those
starring Charles Bronson. The dice are loaded in favor of the shattered,
wronged and intelligent woman while presenting her victims as the scum of
the earth – brutal, sadistic and callous. Despite the skill of the director
Neil Jordan the film is ultimately in favor of her actions. Even the nattily
dress good cop who falls for her comes to her aid in a show down. We are
invited to condone the anarchic killings, patrolling the streets with a
loaded pistol, as ‘brave’.
It’s not... true bravery is being shown by the thousands of monks who are
continuing to oppose the junta in Burma after weeks of harassment. Even
braver are the hundreds of ordinary people who march with them in Rangoon
and elsewhere, shielding them from the police and the military.
To end on a note of optimism… The new Mayor has promised to do away with
hoardings (billboards), starting with the illegal ones and eventually not
allowing the renewal of existing contracts after they expire. This piece of
good news reminds me of a little piece by the poet and satirist Ogden Nash:
I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree. I guess that
unless the billboards fall I’ll never see a tree at all.
This action seems like a sign of progress in Chiang Mai, alongside the huge
amount of work being carried out on the pavements in and around the center
of town and the resumption of work on the super highway. Let’s hope the work
on the sidewalks continues widely. Of course, whilst the city is still
blighted by the existence of its zoo and the Night Safari there is a long
way to go. And the prospect of another crippling month of pollution –
probably less than five months away – which will come as a big ‘surprise’
dulls one’s hopes for a cleaner, safer Chiang Mai.
Let's Go To The Movies:
Now playing in Chiang Mai
Resident Evil 3: Extinction: US Action/Sci-Fi – One genetically
modified woman battles an evil corporation and a world of zombies. Rated R
in the US for strong horror and non-stop violence throughout, and some
nudity. Mixed or average reviews. Thai-dubbed at Vista.
1408: US Suspense/Thriller – I thought this was simply terrific! A genuinely
nightmarish movie, based on a Stephen King story, with a strong lead
performance by John Cusack. I could see it again and again.
One would think that the number of things that can happen in a haunted room
would be limited, and that we’ve seen them all before. All that standard
stuff happens in this movie too, sort of a survey of what you expect a room
might do. But then the movie goes over the top with things no one but
Stephen King would think of, things truly unexpected. Whether it’s really
him, or the creators of this film, who are most responsible for this
magnificent flight of the imagination I don’t know, but whatever, this film
delivers the goods. For me, that is – but then I delight in surreal and
One note: the ending you see here is a re-shot second ending. Audiences were
so disturbed and unhappy about the original ending that the creators got
their heads together and came up with an entirely different ending – in
fact, an exactly opposite ending. I won’t give anything away, but what you
see happen at the end is exactly the other way around in the original. Both
versions are on the DVD. Generally favorable reviews.
War – Rogue Assassin: US Action – With Jet Li, Jason Statham. I didn’t care
for this. Mostly just action, and for me just awful. The worst editing I can
imagine. A flabby and formulaic standard-issue crime drama laced with
routine martial artistry. Generally negative reviews
Ghost Mother: Thai Horror – Aunt takes care of orphaned kids, is murdered,
and rightfully so. Then everyone else gets murdered, in great gory detail –
everything that’s thankfully missing from 1408.
Shoot ‘Em Up: US Action/Comedy – This parody of action films has piqued my
interest as an audacious and cheerfully offensive movie. But it’s available
at Vista only in a Thai-dubbed version. Really a shame about that! I’d like
to see it. Rated R in the US for pervasive strong bloody violence,
sexuality, and some language. And a lactating prostitute. Mixed or average
Gig Number Two: Thai Romance/Comedy – Horny teenagers, members of “The Gig
Club,” try to come up with a list of four sure-fire rules for how to make
out. Sorry, I have no present plans to see this – the preview has warned me
It’s a Boy Girl Thing: Canada/UK Teen Comedy/Romance – Teen boy and teen
girl exchange bodies. Another re-jigging of the body-swap concept, this time
for the teen market, with a femme overachiever and a dim jock changing
souls. Reviews say these are two very strong actors—charming and funny in
the comedy bits and also able to tap into real emotions as they dig far
deeper into the characters than this kind of film usually deserves. These
aren’t clean-cut all-American kids; they’re recognizably real, which will
make the film much more entertaining for both adults and teens. The film’s
biggest problem is an over-reliance on gross-out humor and sex jokes,
despite the fact that there are no sex scenes. The film does possess enough
heart and laughs to warrant a mild recommendation, so say most of the
reviewers. Showing at Kad Suan Kaew.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry: US Comedy – Adam Sandler. Two straight
Brooklyn firefighters pretend to be a gay. It is quite funny, and offensive
to everyone. Generally negative reviews. At Vista only.
The Condemned: US Action – Rated NC 17 in Thailand, and the restrictions
should definitely be enforced for this film. Horrific theme, but well
crafted. Condemned men are told to kill each other till only one remains.
Rated R in the US for “pervasive strong brutal violence, and for language.”
Generally negative reviews. At 12 Huaykaew only.
Bedside Detective (Sai-lap): Thai Romance – Dreadful. Only for Thais, among
whom it is extraordinarily popular – in fact, the top Thailand film for two
Scheduled for Thursday, October 4
Stardust: UK/US Adventure/Fantasy – With Ian McKellen, and Robert De Niro as
a flying pirate who dances and tries to outdo Johnny Depp. Generally
The Body: Thai Thriller/Horror – The strange story of the body in coffin
Underdog: US Action/Adventure –An accident in the lab of a maniacal
scientist turns an ordinary beagle into a superdog with unimaginable powers
and the ability to speak. So he goes out to save the world and do good.
Generally negative reviews.
Life in the laugh lane:
by Scott Jones
The War of the Nurses
Pods filled with Liquid Me to feed mosquitoes in
After recent hip resurfacing in the Hell Hospital in India, I come out of
the surgical haze, but drop regularly into incoherency. I mumble about not
knowing where I am, ramble on about my Thai mate Joom saying things to me
that I had probably just dreamed and apologize for forgetting whether I
asked her for water, whether she brought it to me, or whether I ever drank
it. Later, when she hears me tell another patient about my stupor, she says,
“Love, you’re like that every day.”
By Post-Op Day One, the War of the Nurses is in full-swing, but I’m barely
able to retaliate with cotton and tubes taped here and there, plus two
strange devices attached to my leg that look like those electric shockers
that restart your heart in the movies. We learn they are odd drainage pods
filled with Liquid Me that attract rabid mosquitoes in my hospital room that
want to drink me.
Joom keeps the door locked; makes the nurses knock to get into their
previously controlled territory, which visibly upsets them. We both hate
fluorescent lights, especially four long ones on the ceiling, so we use one
lonely bulb on the wall and burn incense to thwart the chemical hospital
smells from engulfing our room. The Nurse Troops charge in, flick on all the
lights—the way it should be in their domain—and probably assume the Bad
Children have established an illegal opium den right under their noses.
After blinding us with the lights, they grunt, “Take BP.” (BP means “blood
pressure” and they take it 79 times per day.) “Give shots.” They have
created a small manhole cover bordered by tape on my wrist so they can dump
in medicine with a needle-less syringe and their rubber glove-less hands.
They stick the syringe into the hole and press the plunger as fast as they
can, and then do their same trick with the next three shots. Scottie’s
little artery and over-filled wrist can only take so much liquid at
once—it’s like sticking a fire hose into my mouth and expecting the water to
reach my stomach immediately without ripping apart my throat. The skin
swells menacingly around the manhole and Nurse Nasty gets impatient, tapping
and pressing the liquid with her fingers.
I smile and say politely, “Slowly, big syringe, small artery.” Inside I’m
shouting, “Slow down! I’m just the patient, but you could have a little
patience! Bring that fire-extinguisher over so I can shove it up your…”
Although the Nurse Troops kind and warm in their own way, their own way is
puzzling to me. (I’m sure my way is also very puzzling to them, since it’s
even puzzling to my own friends.) Maybe they’re just shy about their
English, but the first words I’ve ever learned in any language is “Hello,
how are you?”
Sergeant Nurse: “Take BP.”
Bad Child: “Okay.”
Sergeant Nurse: “Now shots.”
Bad Child: “Slowly. My hand’s the size of a soccer ball.”
Sergeant Nurse: “Take temperature.”
Bad Child: “Where do you want it this time—oral, rectal or armpital?”
The temperature thing is a little too random for me using the single
thermometer that I think they store in my bathroom. Sometimes it goes under
my tongue, sometimes into my armpit. On surgery day while I was in deep in
La-La-Land, I wonder where it went.
Nurse Nameless: “Take BP.”
Incoherent Patient: “Want B.M.”
Nameless: “I get pan.”
Incoherent: “I’ll hold it.”
Nameless: “Now take temp.”
Incoherent: “Who are you?”
Nameless: “Spread ‘em.”
On Post-Op Day Two, they give me a steel walker that weighs a little less
than a safe. It has rust on it, but it’s very sturdy and I’m not. Later I
hobble out to check on the racket and see if airplanes are actually landing
in the hallway. Right across the hall, a man is smoothing the massive marble
tiles with sand and water, using a rusty machine that appears to be made by
the same company as my walker. Great... I’m recovering from hip resurfacing
to the sounds of floor resurfacing. I assume they used the same machine on
my hip. I carry the six skeleton keys to our suite of rooms—keys that were
probably used in a dungeon during the Iron Age and are almost heavy enough
to pull my green hospital pants to the floor. I creep past the Nurse Guard
Station and say, “Hi! I’m just going for lunch in Bombay.” It’s not funny to
them because they think I’m not only a Very Bad Child, but clearly
clinically insane, and I just might try it.
Your Health & Happiness: Thailand may break patents on three cancer drugs
Thailand is considering more compulsory licenses on three cancer medicines,
while another key cancer drug will not be targeted after the patent holder
agreed to give free access to patients under Thailand’s medical healthcare
Earlier, the National Health Security Office revealed it might propose that
the Ministry of Public Health impose compulsory licenses, or CL, on four
cancer drugs if the negotiations with drug companies for lower prices proved
The drugs that could be affected include Imanitib and Letrozole from
Novartis; Docetaxel from Sanofi-Aventis; and Erlotinib from Genentech.
The medicines are used to treat various kinds of cancer, ranging from
tumors, breast and lung cancer.
Thailand’s Public Health Minister Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla affirmed that the
government will carefully and thoroughly consider its move to effectively
‘break the patents’ of the cancer medications, but he stressed that the move
was necessary if the government wanted to ensure broader access to necessary
“To apply the CL is Thailand’s last resort, unless an agreement has been
reached with the pharmaceutical companies to allow poor patients to access
to the drugs,” said Dr. Mongkol.
Dr. Wichai Chokewiwat, in his capacity as chairman of the Public Health
Ministry’s committee on compulsory licensing, said Imatinib will be exempted
under CL since the company which holds the drug patent has agreed to give
free access to Thai patients under universal healthcare scheme.
Earlier this year, the Public Health Ministry issued compulsory licenses for
the heart disease drug Plavix, made by Bristol-Myers Squibb and
Sanofi-Aventis and Abbott Laboratories’ Kaletra to treat HIV/AIDS.
Last November, it overrode the patent for Efivirenz, an anti-retroviral drug
made by Merck.
Thailand stands firm that it will use CL only as last resort and will do so
in strict compliance with provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, under the World Trade
Organization. Another legal basis for the Thai government to execute CL is
provided for in the state obligation to provide universal healthcare service
to Thai citizens under the National Health Insurance Act. TNA
World Health Organization honors Thailand
Thailand has been named one of 13 successful countries worldwide this year
in providing necessary vaccines and preventing disease among children by the
UN World Health Organization (WHO), a senior Public Health Ministry official
Dr. Praj Boonyawongvirot, Permanent Secretary for Public Health, said his
ministry had received notification from WHO that the UN agency had decided
to award a certificate to Thailand for achievement in giving necessary
vaccines to children which could reduce the deaths among them.
According to WHO, there are still about 27 million of children throughout
the world that have not received necessary vaccines and more than two
million of them die yearly.
WHO and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund have
recommended that Thai children receive a BCG vaccine inoculation to prevent
tuberculosis, three DPT vaccines to prevent diphtheria, three polio
vaccinations and a vaccine for measles. The vaccinations must be given to
children before they reach one year old.
Meanwhile, Dr. Thawat Suntrajarn, Director-General of the Disease Control
Department, said surveys were conducted and found that no Thai children aged
below five had contracted polio in the past 10 years.
But Thai children still must use the vaccine because they could receive
disease from foreigners migrating to Thailand, Dr. Thawat said, adding that
most of the migrating foreigners had not received proper vaccines against
these diseases. TNA