HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Life in Chiang Mai

Let's Go To The Movies

Life in the laugh lane

Your Health & Happiness

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Self medication - some pitfalls

A friend came to see me the other day at the hospital. He had not been feeling well, had an initial cold and a cough for some weeks, and now his throat was very painful, with difficulty in swallowing. He had gone to the local pharmacy and bought B. 55 of some antibiotic called amoxycillin, but he had not improved. In fact, he was worse. At this point he came to see me for some advice, as he could not understand why he was not better, despite taking the antibiotic.
Now, historically, perhaps one of the greatest discoveries in medicine was the antibiotic. For countless centuries mankind (and women too!) died from bacterial diseases. Microbes that could bring armies to their knees went unchecked. Plagues decimated populations, but smarty pants that we are, we developed antibiotics and we reversed the tables. “Human beings kill millions of bacteria” could even be the headline for a newspaper!
However, it wasn’t that easy. We did develop antibiotics. They did kill bacteria. But the bacteria did not take all this lying down either. They developed new strains which became resistant to the antibiotics and started to become rampant again. We, in retaliation, developed new antibiotics and the balance of power returned to our favour. After all, the “good guys” should be the winners!
But are we? There has been a price to pay for all our “smartness” with now a plethora of pills and potions. That price is even more noticeable in countries like Thailand, where self medication is the norm. The price includes more antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, more symptoms caused by the antibiotics themselves and an overgrowth of other organisms such as yeasts.
This reminded me of a previous time when I chanced upon a discussion in my city office. One chap had a chronic sinus condition and was raking through his desk drawer to see what “antibiotic” he had to combat this. Coming across some self prescribed amoxycillin next to the empty biros and tomato ketchup sachets, he asked me what did I think. I replied that I considered that it was probably next to useless for a chronic sinus condition, so he put them back in his desk. However, the office girl piped up that she needed some, so she would have them! Now both of them are intelligent people, but the medical training that either of them has had in pharmaceuticals, let alone clinical medicine, is one big fat zero. Yet both of them feel qualified to prescribe potent medications for themselves. This is potentially dangerous.
Coming to the sinus problem - amoxycillin, one of the earlier penicillin derivatives, is not an antibiotic which gets good tissue levels in the sinus region and by this time, most bacteria which inhabit the ear-nose-and throat have long since become resistant to amoxycillin. For my money, taking amoxycillin for his chronic sinus problem would be a waste of his money!
Now the young lady - it turned out that her symptoms were not pathological, but represented a normal situation. If she had taken the amoxycillin she would have ended up with a severe attack of “Thrush” an irritating complaint that ladies can well do without.
So in these three cases, indiscriminate antibiotics would have been a waste of money and not done the trick for two people and given the other another nasty condition as well. Perhaps now you can see why I am not altogether in favour of self medication with prescription drugs. If it were just a case of “any old antibiotic will do” then it would be different; however, antibiotic prescribing is a sensitive and difficult area of medicine.
Going back to our friend amoxycillin, adverse effects include superinfection, a nasty type of bowel disease, and liver and blood disturbances as well as interacting badly with the contraceptive pill and gout medication. Is it worth it? I don’t really think so. See your doctor instead!


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
Your world seems to be full of frightened men. Do you do this to them, or were they that way before they met you? You have them writing in wanting to know every next step with women in this country. Haven’t they got any balls themselves? Surely they must understand what goes on here. The women are out to get you, your wallet, house, car, bank account, the lot. They are all the same, no matter where they came from. Makes no difference if you found them in a bar or in a university, Northeast or Bangkok, they’re all the same. Can’t you get your readers to wise up? You’re always telling them to find the good girls away from the bar scene, but it doesn’t matter. They’re on their way to the cleaners, dear Hillary. They should find a woman from their own country and stop chasing rainbows. Why don’t you tell them the truth?
Tired of it all
Dear Tired of it all,
Well, aren’t you a little bundle of angst, my Petal. I get the feeling that underneath all that verbal abuse there is a really nice chap who has been hit hard. Am I correct? What you are ignoring is the fact that the whole male-female thing is always fraught with danger, and especially danger in the financial sense. Did you know that over 50 percent of all first marriages in the West end in the divorce courts? And over there, the aggrieved wife does not have to run off with “your wallet, house, car, bank account, the lot” as you say, because the courts will give them to her. So the end result is the same, isn’t it? Forget the rainbows.
No, I still firmly believe that there are just as many good girls out here in Thailand as anywhere else. Men here who are looking for a partner should not, however, go looking like they do when choosing a motorcar. The heart has to have a say, as well as the head. Love is an emotional response, but just put yourself in the right aisle in the supermarket. You can’t buy cheese in the hardware section.
Finally, you don’t make life-long decisions based on a couple of nights in the hay. There was a good reason that our forefathers insisted on long courtships. Think about it.

Dear Hillary,
With all the books being written in Thailand these days, when will we see the Hillary Anthologies? Are they coming out soon? You’ve got enough material if you just sift through it and get rid of some of the idiot ones like the Mister Singha person. Have to be worth a bottle of bubbly, surely?
Dear Bookworm,
Worth a bottle of bubbly for whom? You, for the suggestion, or me for the work involved? Or do you think that’s how much I would make from the enterprise, less of course your commission being my agent?
Really, Bookworm, by the time I began re-reading some of the letters from all the troubled souls out there I would be crying myself to sleep again. It’s bad enough doing this once a week, just imagine what it would be like doing it every day. Lovely thought, my Petal, but I don’t think I’m strong enough for the job.

Dear Hillary,
I will be coming to Thailand later this year and I am not sure how to handle the money side of things to take over with me. I have heard that it is dangerous to use credit cards because there is a lot of credit card scams. Is this correct? What should I do, I won’t be bringing much with me because I haven’t got much to spend, but I don’t want to lose it either! I used to use travelers cheques, but they were really a pain. What is your suggestion?
Dear V-Sah,
Hillary doesn’t have these sort of credit card problems, because Hillary doesn’t have a credit card, mainly because the lousy editor pays me in one baht coins, so I just carry it all in my purse. But being serious for a while, as a tourist, the easiest way to carry money is to have deposited your holiday money in a debit card account in your country and draw on that when you are here at ATM’s, as you need it, and then pay cash at retail outlets. This way, nobody gets your card numbers on a merchant’s carbon copy, and by using the debit card, rather than “credit” card you won’t overspend. The debit card has your built-in limit to it. As far as scams are concerned, we get our fair share, as do all countries in the world these days. Crime does not recognize international boundaries! Finally, if you are still worried, you can try posting large numbers of unmarked notes to Hillary. Just put “chocolate bars” on the outside of the parcel, and the postman will not be suspicious. On second thoughts, do include choccy bars, and then I won’t be tempted to spend your money on chocolates (though champagne could be a problem!).

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Framing - inside and out

If you’ll pardon the pun, framing your photographs is an art. You can spoil a brilliant shot with lousy framing, but on the other hand you can salvage an ordinary “record” shot by brilliant framing. Now, when you put a brilliant subject and brilliant framing together, what a picture! A prize winner. And well worth hanging on the wall.
So let’s do a quick recap on factors that are important. This is in getting the original photograph that you will want to frame.
I have spoken before about the Rule of Thirds, and quickly recapping, put the subject of your photo at the intersection of thirds if you can possibly do it. In other words, one third in from either side and one third down (or up) from the top and bottom. This “off centre” approach does make for a more interesting photograph. Now that was easy, wasn’t it!
The next item to make your framing up more interesting is what we call the Frame within a Frame approach. Take a look at the first photograph with this week’s article. It says something. The building is framed by the stairwell opening, and you straight away wonder “where” this is and “what” this is. Note that the building is not dead central, so there’s the classical placement again. To get this type of shot, find the frame first and walk in close enough to get the frame within the edges of the photo itself. In other words, just position the subject within it. No magic, but you’ll get a magic shot. (By the way the shot was taken from a subway coming up from below a street.)
In the frame-up above, the subject is actually inside a frame, but there also is the situation where the frame is in the foreground and the subject is some distance away. This frame within a frame will pull your eyes deep into the photograph, giving it much extra depth.
The second photo is a classic example of the “Frame within a frame” technique when applied to distance shots. The archway on the chedi I was standing in frames the next chedi in the line. You see a repeat of this archway on the distant one. You immediately know there are more than one of these structures and by looking “through” the first arch you have given a 3D effect to a two dimensional medium.
Now, let me assure you that the chedis did not line themselves up in this order. Producing this shot required some input from the photographer! It was a case of prowling around the site and seeing what was available. This frame-up did not happen by accident, I was actively looking to produce such an effect, and in fact, attempted this shot on three occasions with other chedis before I got the one I wanted. The people in the shot give the scale to the chedis as well. As I have said many times, good photographs do not “happen” - they are made! And YOU, the photographer, make it happen.
Now there will be times when you would like to improve the shot by framing, but there is no handy archway, window or whatever. This is where you have to be even more creative. Look around for overhanging trees or ground bushes that can be used as “frames” to hide some part of the shot and thus accentuate your subject matter. A little hidden area always heightens the curiosity of the viewer, and just by doing that you have produced a better shot. It’s that easy!
The message from today’s column is not to be satisfied by just pointing your camera at the subject and going “click”. Look for ways of enhancing the photo to make it more interesting. Framing up is a good start.

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Portfolio Construction - Part 13

It shouldn’t be finding a good stock or a good fund and holding it ad infinitum because what was good in the 1990s isn’t necessarily the best investment in 2007 (what was good in 2006 is unlikely to be the best investment in 2007). In fact there’d be something wrong if it was.
A while ago we touched on some people not always grasping this point. However, this isn’t their fault. As Tim Price recently suggested, Wall Street seems to spend more time on marketing/brainwashing than on portfolio considerations. No wonder that clients think that the only decision is whether to hold mid-cap growth or large-cap value. If this is what BlackRock Merrill Lynch spend millions of dollars each year telling them; inevitably that has some impact.
An extension of this ‘hot fund’ approach is a raft of advertisements, recommendations and endorsements of funds that are simply unsuitable. A good example of this is Brandeaux’s Ground Rent Income Fund. Despite being launched in 1996 and promoted throughout that time via the investment advisor marketplace, this excellent fund remains extremely small (just Stg 200 million). In the latest 12 months returns have been 10.47% and average returns since launch have been 9.97% per annum. The Fund focuses on ownership of Ground Rents and well-located residential properties which have Reversionary Value and secure income. A main objective is to deliver consistent annualised positive returns of 8% to 10% while maintaining a profile of low volatility performance. This fund has less correlation to overall property markets and to economic cycles than many of Brandeaux’s other range of property funds that are available. While the fund is well-managed and is well diversified over a large number of properties and occupants, its performance is, however, affected by occupancy levels and bad debt rates.
Relative to other UK property funds, there has been a certain stability about ground rent funds over the last few years. For low risk investors requiring income this has made them more suitable than other property funds and during that time we have used ground rent funds for exactly that purpose as a small part of a balanced income portfolio.
For portfolios that seek higher levels of capital growth, they have really only been suitable as short term hiding places during the various dislocations that have taken place during the equity markets in this period. That outlook is unchanged right now - they should be considered for lower risk income producing portfolios.
However, we’re no longer holding ground rent in any of our portfolios because the risk of increasing vacancy rates and higher default rates at the upcoming stage of the economic cycle poses a risk that is relatively too high for a low risk investment. The fund remains an excellent fund within its sector but any advisor who unquestioningly thinks that this sector offers good enough risk/reward opportunities for his clients in the current environment should be asking a few more questions about the suitability of the fund for prevailing conditions.
This is a specialist fund - we’ve looked recently at only how totally open investment architecture can be sufficiently adaptive and impartial to prevail in all economic conditions. A fund that can only invest in UK ground rents is about as closed in its focus as it is possible to be. However good a job that Ms. Brandeaux and her managers do, they are constrained by the sector. There will come again a time to buy this sector and in all probability this fund but not now.
The main investment focus of many investment portfolios has, quite rightly, been the protracted rally that has now managed to sustain since 2003. By any measure this feels as though it’s getting long in the tooth and it seems to have been around for even longer than Cliff Richard. Active portfolio managers have for some time been preparing their exit strategies from the equity markets (time to get out for at least the short term) and looking at the alternatives.
The level of bond market interest and activity is perhaps indicated by the increased level of transactions in treasury futures. It would seem that the institutional inventors who make most use of the futures and derivative markets are looking at these contracts as a way to achieve diversification of risk and increased portfolio returns.
The trading of treasury futures (the most-actively traded derivative contracts on the Chicago Board of Trade) is on the rise; a record 60.5 million contracts changed hands in February, the equivalent of $6.62 trillion of Treasuries (in March, 60 million contracts traded); This is still some way short of the $9.57 trillion of physical bonds traded in the same period on Wall Street by the majors. However, futures trading volume has more than doubled in the five years ended in February. At the current rate of increase futures trading will surpass the trading volume for cash securities during 2008.
Treasury futures contracts, which were introduced by the Chicago Board of Trade in 1977, are transactions effected today which require buyers and sellers to receive or deliver securities on a specific future date. In other words, a ‘guess’ as of today of what the price will be next month or next quarter. If you think that the price will go up more than the market is quoting, you simply buy a future and if you’re right you pocket the extra. In the meantime the cost of the contract has been a tiny fraction of the market exposure that you have achieved leaving you the vast majority of the contract value to invest right now in other areas. Similarly, derivatives are contracts whose value is derived from stocks, bonds, loans, currencies and commodities or linked to specific events such as changes in interest rates or the weather.
Interestingly the contracts are finding plenty of eager new participants - “Fund sponsors who had in the past not allowed investment managers to use derivatives are more eager to do so,’’ according to Greg DeForrest, of Callan Associates, the second-biggest adviser to U.S. pension funds, whose 266 clients possess over $1 trillion of assets (so you’d figure that they should know).
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 [email protected]

Life in Chiang Mai: by Mark Whitman

Perhaps you read the reports culled from an article/survey which appeared recently in the magazine International Traveller and offered a list of the 29 countries considered as the best for ‘living in retirement’. When I tell you that Mexico came out on top and the U.K. 29th the least response I would expect is a raised eyebrow. The result was obviously based on the kind of ‘objectivity’ which informs Good Value surveys and ends up recommending a brand of soap that lasts longest in water yet smells vile and offers no lather.
The central reason had to be cost, something of concern to most retirees. Other factors were the ‘welcome’ you might receive, the climate, healthcare and other such maters within the country and so on. The results seemed to me to be very odd with the top ten including Malta and Panama and at tenth place Thailand, but not – say – New Zealand.
But one man’s enchilada is – as we know – another’s poison. Moving to a country has to be based on subjective reasons as much as objective concerns. One person will happily spend a seeming fortune on tickets for Covent Garden Opera whilst another will join the mind set of mid-West America and reach for a gun at the mention of culture.
Still the magazine performs a function in offering guidelines and cautionary advice and that’s what we need, especially as the laws or attitudes within a country often change even while we are living there. Look no further than the shifting sands of the immigration rules as we sit – possibly complacently –in Chiang Mai. This was brought home by a lengthy and possibly alarmist piece I read recently about the supposed new ruling on the year long retirement visas for the over 50s in Thailand.
From September 1 this year we were warned that married couples would be required to have double the present amount of either 800,000 baht deposited in a Thai bank or the guaranteed income of 65,000 baht a year or some combination of each. There would also be extra ‘penalties’ in the case of children.
Asking around I have so far found no one who has been affected by this. Is it fact or rumor? It seems an issue for the Chiang Mai Ex-Pats Club to be concerned with. They have over 400 members and a similar group – exclusively for Scandinavians –has around 100 members. These figures are common to larger cities in the Kingdom and yet I feel that too often these groups seem to settle down as social clubs, watering holes and the like rather than as organizations to help genuine integration and social mobility.
The Chiang Mai group is now two years old and is going through something of an upheaval internally. Let’s hope that a worthwhile idea is not lost and that they might use this opportunity to rethink current attitudes. It would be a pity to lose so much spadework and good intentions. Perhaps those who join such a group are inward looking. Certainly I see precious few of my fellow members at the cultural events in the city and there were only a couple at the recent demonstrations in support of the Burmese people held over last weekend.
I need hardly repeat the untold words that have been spoken and written about the tragedy – one that has lasted for 45 years – that came to something of a head during the past weeks in Burma.
As we met together at the Three Kings Monument, similar groupings were echoed throughout the world, asking if such actions could possibly help. But I recalled myself as a young student demonstrating against another fascist regime – in South Africa and the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela who was incarcerated even longer than the legitimate leader in Burma, Aung Sun Suu Kyi , been under house arrest. He finally emerged to lead his country and we can only hope that she will one day do the same.
The key, we are told, lies with China since the Generals, secure in their mansions and with a mighty armory, do not care a jot about anything you or I or even Gordon Brown or other leaders of the free world say. The favorite suggestion is a boycott of the forthcoming Olympic Games which would affect their grotesque national pride as well as their pockets. Even for lovers of the games it would seem a small price to pay if it affected the situation in Burma. If you are interested in finding out more about local events then you can contact Peace in Burma via their e-mail address at [email protected] and follow on from there.

Let's Go To The Movies: Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
Stardust: UK/US Adventure/Fantasy – With Robert De Niro as a flying pirate who dances and tries to outdo Johnny Depp – a performance not to be missed. It’s a delightful fairy tale for everyone, funny and romantic, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has enough visual razzle-dazzle, good and evil humor, and well-drawn performances to create a lively, fantastical experience. Michelle Pfeiffer in particular gives a wild and wicked portrayal as the witchiest of the three witches. Not at all just for kids. Highly recommended for people who liked Pirates of the Caribbean and such. Generally favorable reviews.
Body #19 (Body Sop 19): Thai Thriller/Horror – Man gets some clues in his nightmares that lead him to morgue drawer #19, gradually unraveling the story of the dead body inside. A first-time effort by director Paween Purijitpanya which is mostly standard Thai horror with some interesting twists, slow, sometimes beautifully shot, usually with excellent camera work, and which has some nice evocations of mood. I loved the opening credits. A director, I think, to watch.
Underdog: US Action/Adventure – From his beginnings in a 1970s Saturday morning cartoon, Underdog has been transformed into semi-CGI animated life in a talking animal live-action film. Superdog flies around, fights evil, and does good. Unremarkable, but pleasant enough, and mildly amusing. Quite accessible for Thais, who seemed to enjoy it a lot. Generally negative reviews.
Resident Evil 3: Extinction: US Action/Sci-Fi – One genetically modified woman battles an evil corporation and a world of zombies. Unaccountably popular in Thailand, raking in ungodly amounts of cash. This third installment of the Resident Evil films is again based on the wildly popular video game series, and it feels very much like a video game, with rooms to explore and levels to achieve, and puzzles to solve. Heroine of the future Milla Jovovich joins forces with other survivors as they set out to eliminate the deadly virus that threatens to make every human being a zombie. Since being captured by the evil Corporation, Jovovich has been subjected to biogenetic experimentation, which has added genetically altered abilities such as superhuman strength, senses, and dexterity, to her repertoire. Great moody desert vistas, a creepy ghost town Las Vegas, fascinating underground grid structures, scary laboratories where icky research is being performed. It’s all lovely! See it if you’re into a lot of action that doesn’t perhaps make sense. Rated R in the US for strong horror and non-stop violence throughout, and some nudity. Mixed or average reviews. Thai-dubbed at Vista.
It’s a Boy Girl Thing: Canada/UK Teen Comedy/Romance – Quite decent and delightful, and surprisingly an enjoyable teen comedy, about a boy and girl who exchange bodies. Yes, another replay of the body-swap concept, this time with a femme overachiever and a dim jock changing souls. They are played by 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. It has enough heart and laughs to warrant watching. At 12 Huay Kaew only.
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, the preview has warned me away from seeing this.
Bedside Detective (Sai-lap): Thai Romance – Only for Thais; was the top Thailand film for two weeks and is still extraordinarily popular.
Scheduled for
Thursday, October 11

The Kingdom: US Drama/Thriller – With Jamie Foxx, Jason Bateman, Chris Cooper. Terrorism in Saudi Arabia, with the US trying to handle things. Rated R in the US for intense sequences of graphic brutal violence, and for language. Mixed or average reviews.
Black Family: Thai Comedy/Thriller – The Black family is a farmer family about to lose their farmhouse, and who decide to rob a bank to save it. Directed by Bumrur Phonginsee (or Note Chearnyim) who was responsible for the recent reprehensible In Country & Melody, whose trailer so sickened audiences here and at the Bangkok International Film Festival, where it was given incessant viewings to the disgust of international visitors.

Life in the laugh lane: by Scott Jones

Indian food will never be the same

Never-smiling Nurse Commando and Madame XXX pose reluctantly with the Bad Children.

Routine hospital food in America is served three times a day like Swiss clockwork with no discussion of any choice: trays delivered automatically with plastic plates of geometrically-shaped mystery meat, unidentifiable tubers cooked for weeks and canned fruit suspended in green Jell-O with red beverages in Styrofoam cups. During my recent hip surgery in India, the doctor said, “Order whatever you want,” but that did not include the mouth-watering Thai meals we dreamed about daily. It meant pizza or selections from nearby Indian restaurants that offered Curry, Mother of Curry, Second Cousin of Curry, Illegitimate Child of Curry plus pages of unknown Indian menu items with no pictures. Once ordered via the Nurse Police, these meals arrive within a half-hour to two-hours to never.
Nurse Police: “Eat lunch.”
Bad Child: “We ordered it hours ago. It hasn’t come. Did you eat it for us?”
I never satisfy any nurse’s food quota and now I’ve considerably exceeded my personal quota. I haven’t had a B.M. for days, before the operation. All the curried food I’ve eaten has evolved into an immobile mass expanding somewhere between my stomach and lungs, probably because I was trapped in bed and would have been forced to poop in the pan. I refuse to eat until something comes out the other end. The awareness of sporadic hip pain is replaced by constant pain in my abdomen, so I call Nurse Headquarters and request an enema bag or suppository. Nurse Commando and her sidekick Madame XXX enter gleefully, ready for excavation, wearing miner’s caps with spotlights, carrying pick axes, safety ropes, two suppositories and surprise—a pair of rubber gloves, which they had never used during any previous blood test or shot session. I imagine one will spread ‘em while the other deposits the suppositories an arm’s length up my bum, probably somewhere near my collarbone.
Nurse Commando: “Have suppositories.”
Bad Child: “Thank you very much.”
Madame XXX: “We put in.”
Very Bad Child: “No, thanks. I’ll do it.”
Commando and Madame, speechless: “…”
Very Strange Bad Child, smiling: “…”
Commando, eyes narrowing: “We put in.”
Very Strange, Deranged Bad Child: “I put in. Thanks for the gloves. I didn’t know you had any.”
Commando and Madame, silent statues: “…”
Very Strange, Deranged and Dangerous Bad Child: “Thank you very much. See you later.”
Nurse Commando and Madame XXX scamper out of the room to tell their mother, the doctor, anyone, and perhaps to apply for a position in Intensive Care where the patients are unconscious, or maybe at a morgue. I am comforted to know that at least they use rubber gloves to insert suppositories in the patient next door before they come to give me shots or—don’t think about it, Scottie—put the thermometer in my mouth.
I used to love India food before coming to India. Although we had some splendid meals, most of the dishes looked and smelled the same: orange-brown mush covering vegetables grown in soil fertilized with curry or chicken force-fed with curry-infused grain. Bottom line: it looked pretty much same on the way in as on the way out. The suppositories do their job—one may have been sufficient—and the runs begin, unfortunately I am not able to run to the toilet. Though I can slowly do the Walker Walk, getting out of bed takes about eleven minutes of concentration on correct leg position to avoid piercing muscle cramps spasms that feel like they may catapult my steel hip joint out of the skin and into my Thai mate’s head. Sitting up is hard enough, but sitting down is precarious and painful, balancing with one hand on the toilet reservoir and one on the sink—no appropriately placed handrails next to toilets like in America. A hard plastic extender rises fifty centimeters above the toilet seat, which makes it look semi-functional for a tall, 150-kilo basketball player. When my vast storehouse of molten curry knocks on the soft, round door without a lock, it wants out: not in fifteen minutes…now. During my hundred or so expeditions to the Un-comfort Station I somehow always hit the bulls-eye and do not spew curry puree on the walls. Indian food will never be the same.

Your Health & Happiness: Twenty four million Thais carry genetic trait for thalassemia

Over 24 million Thais, or 36.9 per cent of the population, carry the genetic trait for thalassemia, a hereditary blood disorder, according to Dr. Narongsakdi Aungkasuvapala, director-general of Thailand’s Department of Health.
Married couples have been urged to check their blood to prevent transmission to their babies and reduce the number of new patients, according to medical authorities.
Each year, he said about 17,000 Thai couples are at risk of having 4,253 babies born with severe forms of thalassemia.
Thalassemia, a hemoglobin abnormality, causes anemia that can range from mild to severe.
Each patient with severe forms of thalassemia needs medical treatment usually costing about 120,000 baht per year. It costs the country 350 baht million a year to treat patients with severe forms of the illness.
Deputy Secretary-General of the National Health Security Office, Dr. Winai Sawadiworn said pregnant women are entitled to have their blood checked for the genetic trait of thalassemia under the government’s universal health coverage scheme.
If the unborn babies are detected to anticipate birth with severe forms of thalassemia, their parents can decide to continue or stop the pregnancy.
The National Health Security Office will be responsible to for payments related to ending the pregnancy if the parents make that decision.
Patients with severe forms of thalassemia need transfusions and must take special medications to draw excess iron from their bodies. TNA

Flood related disease outbreaks

As flash floods are affecting a number of Thai provinces, especially in the northern region, the Ministry of Public Health has ordered its personnel to monitor six potentially fatal diseases which usually occur during the rainy season.
Dr. Praj Boonyawongvirot, Permanent Secretary for Public Health, said his ministry had instructed its staff to closely monitor outbreaks of six diseases, including leptospirosis and dengue fever, both of which normally occur during the rainy season.
A total of 1,639 leptospirosis patients were found nationwide from January 1 until mid-September, with 23 patients dying, while 41,536 dengue fever patients were admitted to hospital and 39 fatalities were registered, Dr. Praj said.
He urged the people to drink clean water, clean their homes and discard waste immediately rather than allowing diseases to grow in accumulated waste, in order to prevent the outbreak of many diseases during the rainy season. TNA