Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ads that make me worry

Obviously, given what I do, I am naturally inclined towards the unfettered dissemination of information. That people have the right to know, and on the basis of knowing can make up their own minds, about all sorts of things.

And in general, in this country we have a fairly free access to much in this regard, notwithstanding the blatant actions by the last Government to make the Freedom of Information Act too expensive for ordinary people to use.

But I have for some time been perturbed by a series of 'public information' advertisements which run on RTE Radio. I believe they are designed to manipulate our fears.

They are the 'medical problem' ads, urging us to have investigated a whole range of potential ailments, from erectile dysfunction to bowel cancer and stuff about practically every other part of our body in between.

I have no problem with people being encouraged to be pro-active about the state of their health. There is no truism more true than that a health issue caught early has a much better chance of being successfully treated than if left to fester quietly until later. Lives, and money, can be saved by making us aware of potential problems within ourselves.

What bothers me is the proliferation of these ads, mostly on radio, over recent years. Not because we are being pushed to investigate if we have the symptoms of the particular issue being aired. Rather because of who is pushing the issue.

Public health information provided by the State, whether through education or through such advertisements, can only be regarded as positive. But are these ads being provided by the State altruistically as a public service?

Because at the end of each one, you will have noticed that they are sponsored by one or more pharmaceutical companies. Each of which has a vested interest in fuelling health angst about the subject under discussion.

I remember being told some years ago, by a friend involved in the retail pharmaceutical business, that there was no money in being a local chemist until the era of 'preventative' rather than only 'curative' pharmacy. In other words, we now spend a lot more money on taking stuff to prevent us getting ill than on dealing with illnesses.

My bottom line on this is, rather than depend on the support of — and therefore the advertising of — pharmaceutical companies to provide such public health information, it should come independently and paid for out of a public health budget.

Am I being too picky?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bertie on the (China) ball

Wondering what Bertie Ahern was up to last week?  

Well, as his economic legacy here continued to melt down faster than a nuclear reactor with a faulty regulatory system, he was busy congratulating the Communist leader of a province in China on their economic progress.

Our man of the yellow suit was dressed more soberly to chat up Zhang Baoshun, secretary of the Anhui Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China(CPC), in Hefei, Anhui province, on April 28. He was leading a delegation sent by the Ireland China Cooperation Council (ICCC).

Describing Mr Ahern's promotion of Sino-Ireland ties as 'unremitting', Zhang said Anhui province and Ireland 'complement each other' in economy.

(Rich man, poor man?)

Bertie said the ICCC will strive to promote exchanges and cooperation between Ireland and Anhui province.

The Irish delegation was due to sign an investment memorandum about co-establishing a European industrial park with the Jiangbei Industrial Centralization Zone.

Good to know that, far from resting on his own laurels, and taking a break between Bank Holidays, Bertie was still working his butt off for us...