Andrew Weil MD, February 28, 2011  —  Studies on sleep and the opinions of sleep experts are convincing: napping has value. People who nap generally enjoy better mental health and mental efficiency than people who do not. The quality of their nighttime sleep tends to be better as well. Unfortunately, finding opportunities to rest during daylight hours in our society is not so easy – the North American culture is actively opposed to the whole concept, bombarding us with stimulation in more and more places and times.

If you want to embrace the habit of napping – as many cultures worldwide do – consider the following:

1.       Accept napping as a positive thing. Remind yourself frequently that napping can make a day more productive – it is actually the opposite of being lazy.

2.       Do not fight the body’s desire to nap. This will result in unpleasant or unproductive naps.

3.       Take naps when you can. If your schedule does not permit a nap every day, consider taking productive naps as a passenger in cars, trains and airplanes.

4.       Consider time and duration. Napping for too long, too often or at the wrong time of day can be counterproductive. See what length and schedule works best for you.

5.       Napping can mean just taking a break. Lying on a hammock or just staring into space is the essence of rest – it is not doing that refreshes you in body and mind.

Medscape.com, by Robert Lowes, February 28, 2011 — President Barack Obama announced today that he supports Congressional legislation that speeds up the timetable for states to opt out of healthcare reform requirements such as the controversial individual mandate if they can find equally effective ways to extend insurance coverage to their citizens.

The mandate for individuals to obtain coverage or else pay a penalty has come under fierce attack not only in Congress but also in federal courts, where officials from more than half the states contend that it is an unconstitutional infringement on personal liberty. The legal battle appears destined to go to the Supreme Court.

President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting of US governors at the White House. Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

The individual mandate works in tandem with other provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that require states to set up exchanges for individuals to purchase health insurance and large employers to offer their workers coverage or pay a penalty. These provisions are scheduled to take effect in 2014. Under the ACA, states can obtain a waiver from having to comply with them in 2017 if they enact reform measures that extend comprehensive and affordable health coverage to just as many people as the ACA would without increasing the federal deficit in the process. In addition, states would receive all the federal funds they would have been otherwise entitled to under the ACA to finance their individual programs.

This morning, Obama told a meeting of governors that he backs a bill sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) that would move the opt-out year up to 2014.

“I think that’s a reasonable proposal,” said Obama. “It will give you flexibility more quickly, while still guaranteeing the American people reform.

“I will go to bat for whatever works, no matter who or where it comes from,” he said.

Technology That Enables

Talk about reality TV.  The other evening, glued to CNN/PBS news from the Middle East, I turned to my husband and said, “How unreal is this?  Here we are sipping wine, in front of a large flat screen, watching a huge section of our planet, people just like us, fighting to be free from cruel dictatorships.  Roger Cohen in The New York Times wrote, “It takes a long time — centuries — to establish that all men really are created equal; and that “certain unalienable rights” belong to all citizens rather than to all citizens except those of a certain color ‘or religion’. Even then bigotry rears its head.  The Arab world has embarked on a very long road to enfranchisement. It will be tempestuous but the direction taken is irreversible.”

Here in New York, we welcome, in no uncertain terms, a democratic Middle East.

___Joyce Hays

Doctors Without Borders Reaches Libya

Medscape.com, by Martha Kerr, February 28, 2011 — Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has announced that they reached Benghazi, Libya, on Friday evening, February 25.

The MSF team consists of 8 people: 2 coordinators, 3 medical doctors, 2 logisticians, and an administrator. Two trucks loaded with drugs and medical supplies, including surgical materials, have just arrived in Benghazi, with more ready to be sent through Egypt.

The team has visited 3 medical facilities there: Al Jalaa Hospital, Al Hawari Hospital, and Benghazi Medical Centre. MSF says that each facility is well-equipped and is able to care for the wounded people and meet their medical needs. However, there is a shortage of dressings for wounds, suturing materials, anesthesia drugs, and external fixators.

The 3 medical facilities report having treated more than 1800 wounded people between February 17 and February 21.

Eight tons of medical supplies, including surgical materials, have arrived in Benghazi, and an additional 12 tons of supplies are on their way through Egypt to Libya.

Another MSF team has been deployed at the now-closed Tunisia–Libya border, ready to cross over with 4 tons of medical and surgical materials and drugs to assist victims of violence when they are allowed to enter the country. In the meantime, MSF members, in coordination with other healthcare agencies, are assessing the massive influx of refugees. The team will be reinforced with additional medical staff in coming days.

MSF to Provide Materials and Training

MSF will be providing the needed materials and the necessary training for how to care for patients, as well as how to manage mass casualties in case of new, wider-spread clashes.

An orthopaedic surgeon, an anesthesiologist, and a surgical nurse are joining the assessment team today to determine the surgical needs of wounded patients in Al Jalaa Hospital. The advance MSF team says that many patients hospitalized in the 400-bed trauma center will require second-line surgery.

The MSF team will be assessing 2 other health facilities in Benghazi and is planning to make medical assessments further west in the country. Additional MSF teams with medical supplies, including necessary surgical materials, remain blocked from entering the country.

“All information we receive points towards a critical situation in terms of medical care for the injured,” said Arjan Hehenkamp, MSF’s director of operations, in a press release on Friday. “We need to be working alongside Libyan health professionals to care for people who have been caught in the violent clashes over recent days. It is unacceptable that medical staff and supplies are kept away from people who need them.

“Absolute priority must now be given to doctors and medical supplies, in order to provide urgently needed medical care and help to existing health facilities struggling to cope with the influx of wounded people,” said Mr. Hehenkamp.