Tag Archives: poverty

Child Poverty in America Ranked 2nd Highest in Industrialized Nations

child poverty


In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the current epidemic of Child Poverty in the US.

America 2nd Highest Child Poverty Rate in Industrialized World

The U.S. Census reported last month that 1 in 5 children are on food stamps. That means, a total of about 15 million U.S. children are living below the poverty level. That’s only a total of $24,000 in annual income for a family of four. This highlights the sad fact that the U.S. is ranked second for having the highest level of child poverty in the 35 industrialized nations. The question is, are we making progress?

Before the housing crash of 2007, a total of 1 in 8 children were receiving food stamps. So, it would appear we have made progress seeing how those numbers are down. However, in 2014 a total of sixteen million children received food-assistance program benefits compared to only nine millions in 2007. What is the impact of these startling statistics?

Impact of Child Poverty in the U.S.

What is so alarming about these statistics, is that the top 1% of American income earners are on track to own most of the world’s wealth by 2016. Yet, we only out rank Romania when it comes to child poverty? Let’s examine the implication of child poverty has for the future of our country.

The implications associated with child poverty cost a total of 3.8% of the GDP. That is roughly a half a trillion dollars a year. This is because of lost productivity, as well as health and crime costs.

Since 2007, the rate of children living with married parents who receive food stamps has doubled! This clearly shows that the problem, if not addressed, will only substantially get worse. We must do something.

Relieving Child Poverty as a Country

We can no longer turn a blind eye to this topic. The astronomical income gap is making it too apparent that some families are disadvantaged, and their children will need help. If you look towards our capital, there are huge debates on the solution. Both sides want the solution, but are unable to work together on the solution. We must advocate for these little ones in hunger. They, after all, are our nation’s future. If we do not find a way to alleviate these statistics, more children will grow up disenfranchised. That will lead to more cost to the government in the future due to likely costs from crime and poverty relief.

If we can learn to work together, we could be on our way to healing our nation as a whole. Individually, we all can make a difference by working with various charitable organizations that help feed hungry children, whether you donate your time or volunteer. You can also get involved in the political process, by writing you representatives and asking them to take action. There is no reason that a nation as great as America should be ranked second in child poverty.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

(Julian Omidi, along with his brother, Dr. Michael Omidi, and mother, Cindy Omidi, are philanthropists who founded various charitable organizations including No More Poverty.)


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Government Programs Reduce Poverty

Julian Omidi discusses government programs

Today, Julian Omidi discusses an interpretation of new data from U.S. Census data on poverty levels in the nation. It seems government safety nets are doing some good.

You often hear debate about whether certain government programs do anything worthwhile. Most of the time it is just baseless speculation.

A new study from PEW Charitable Trusts offers some real data from the U.S. Census Bureau to shed some light on the subject.

Social Security, food stamps, unemployment benefits and earned income tax credits all seem to have an effect on the poverty level. Some of the study’s findings include:

  • The official poverty rate in the U.S. was 14.5 percent (45.3 million people)
  • Without food stamps, the poverty rate would be 17.1 percent (an additional 8 million people)
  • Without Social Security, poverty rate for Americans 65 and over would be 52.67 percent instead of 14.6 percent currently
  • Without programs like earned income tax credits, poverty for children under 18 would be 22.8 percent (19.9 percent currently)

These numbers are staggering. Consider what America would look like if each of these programs were removed or cut back significantly. That is what safety nets are for. No one wants people to live in poverty, but America continues to have problems with income inequality.

The great poverty divide

In the current political debate on poverty, both sides have answers, but they seem to be coming from opposite directions. Those on the right wish to see these programs cut or changed, and those on the left wish to see them improved, for the most part.

Most Americans are somewhere in the middle. Some reform is certainly necessary, but these programs are helping people currently. How can we improve things and make sure no one slips through the net while curtailing abuses? This is one of the most difficult questions of our time.

We can certainly use some better metrics on the matter. Census information only considers income level to determine whether someone is under the poverty level. This doesn’t include things like food stamps and other programs that help people.

In 2010 our government introduced the supplemental poverty rate, which considers consumer spending on necessities like shelter, food and utilities. Someday this measure may be used as to determine assistance levels. It has the potential to reign in abusers and find those eligible people who need help.

Things keep getting better, as a whole, for all of us. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continually try to improve. Look for solutions and not ammo. Our public discourse will be much better off.

Thanks for reading,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi and his brother, Michael Omidi, are co-founders of No More Poverty, a charity committed to the eradication of income inequality.

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Poverty Rates in Los Angeles Greater than National Average

The state of California’s poor

Julian Omidi talks about poverty in Los Angeles

Julian Omidi talks about the ongoing issue of poverty. Here, he examines the alarming poverty rates in Los Angeles County.

The U.S. Census bureau has released new estimates that show poverty is more widespread in Los Angeles County than in California or the U.S. as a whole. Eighteen percent of people in LA County live below the poverty line. This isn’t a new development, but rather a lingering reminder of just how bad things are for the area’s residents.

Poverty rates are even worse, a staggering 20 percent, for county residents who were born in another country. The foreign-born often have a tough time finding work due to language barriers and a lack of social support systems. Los Angeles County is home to many unskilled immigrants who are forced to live on the economic fringes of society.

California’s poverty rate was reported at 16 percent, while the overall number for the U.S. is 15 percent. The country has been slow to pull out of the recent recession and still needs job growth. The national unemployment rate is near 5.9 percent, though California’s has stayed above 7.3 percent. The state’s poverty rate likely won’t improve much until the national economy begins to grow.

What does this mean for LA County and California?

LA County has suffered with chronic poverty for decades. Government programs help many citizens get what they need, but often fall short. High housing costs in the area make it difficult for poor people to find affordable homes and apartments.

High unemployment rates create a large group of people starved for work. These people are likely to settle for lower pay, driving local wages down or keeping them stagnate.

People in poverty tend to experience higher levels of stress, which makes logical sense. If you have your needs met, you have less to worry about. It’s a simple as that. These problems are not purely economic in nature. The health of our communities is at stake. Money problems can quickly turn into housing and nutrition problems.

My brother, Dr. Michael Omidi, and I founded No More Poverty to help alleviate some of these issues. These problems are close to our hearts and we want to do what we can.

While government programs do help the less fortunate, they cannot do it all. Find a charity or food basket near you and help out however you can. If you’re concerned about poverty, vote for politicians who share your concerns. Together, we can make a difference.

Thanks for taking the time to read about this important issue,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi works with a number of charities. No More Poverty was established by Julian and Dr. Michael Omidi to support individuals and charities making a difference.

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Poverty Rate in Appalachia & Causal Factors


The war on poverty is hardly over, and in some areas, the progress that was made in the 1960s is now coming undone.  Julian Omidi discusses the poverty rate in Appalachia, and its causal factors.

In the United States, poverty can hit a community as quickly and effectively as a sledgehammer; a region whose economy was largely based on one particular industry finds itself destitute if that industry folds.  While many of us might think of the economic downturn as being the harbinger for the new and rapidly dividing economy, there are some segments within the U.S. that were never prosperous, and whose statistics seem unlike what should even be possible in the nation that was globally viewed as the “Land of Opportunity” for more than a century.

In Appalachia (the region in the Eastern and South Eastern United States stretching from the southern portion of New York State down to Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi), there was always poverty; during the Great Depression, photographs of locals created the widely recognized face of rural hardship.  However, in the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” was established largely to address this horribly underserved community by providing welfare and meal stability programs.  The bit of federal security combined with the coal mining industry managed to keep the locals in a manageable economic condition for a time, even though the poverty rate was still high, tens of thousands of people were saved from destitution.[1]

Fast forward to the 1990s, when the coal mining industry was on the decline.  The residents with the highest levels of education, the most drive and the most prospects were beginning to leave for greener pastures, and those who remained were largely older, less educated and dependent upon governmental assistance to get by.  Combined with a burgeoning drug culture and an increase in unplanned teenaged pregnancies, the poverty rate began to climb – and climb and climb.  Today, in the southern portion of West Virginia, the poverty rate is a staggering 41 percent among families with children.

The fact that nearly half of families are living in poverty is nothing short of astonishing; the fact that 46 percent of children in McDowell County do not live with a biological parent is heartbreaking.  These statistics are due to the absurdly high number of parents either in prison, dead or simply gone – having abandoned their kids to the care of relatives or neighbors.  Furthermore, the use of narcotics and prescription drugs is overwhelming.  According to data from Welch Community Hospital, out of 115 babies born in their facilities, 40 had been exposed to drugs prenatally.

Drugs, entire industries leaving communities and crime have all played a part in creating a seemingly hopeless environment.  There are no simple solutions; we can only open our eyes to the way our fellow Americans are being forced to live and do our best to ease some of their burdens.

By Julian Omidi


[1] Gabriel, Trip: 50 Years Into the War on Poverty, Hardship Hits Back New York Times 4/20/2014 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/21/us/50-years-into-the-war-on-poverty-hardship-hits-back.html?src=me&_r=0

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Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan


A medical and humanitarian crisis is burgeoning in South Sudan, as hundreds of thousands of people face mass famine after months of deadly conflict.  Julian Omidi discusses the reaction of representatives from Doctors Without Borders to the United Nations peacekeeping response to the devastating events in South Sudan.

In South Sudan, the peacekeeping operation initiated by the United Nations came under critical fire from representatives from the international medical nonprofit Doctors Without Borders, due to the gruesome conditions in the Tomping compound, located in Juba, the capitol of South Sudan.  There are currently 21,000 refugees sheltering in the compound, which has become a massive public health hazard.[1]

The United Nations has worked with Doctors Without Borders providing aid in numerous nations in crisis states, and both organizations have served South Sudan throughout its turbulent history.  Currently, South Sudan is in the middle of a catastrophic humanitarian event, made worse by the rampaging violence.

Nearly 4 million people face starvation, and several hundred thousands find themselves without shelter save what is provided by the United Nations.

Doctors Without Borders has released a statement lambasting the reaction of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (known as Unmiss) during this crisis.  In the statement, the UN is accused of ignoring the pleas to assist with improvements at Tomping, which is currently situated in low ground.  During the rains, latrines were overturned, and the waters flooded the compound with sewage, causing the immediate threat of water-borne illnesses.  The compound is surrounded by barbed wire fencing, and just beyond the fence is higher, dryer ground with warehouse space.

The refugees within the compound are experiencing an overwhelming flood of diarrheal, respiratory, and skin infections all due to the bacteria-laden water in which the inhabitants are situated.  The Doctors Without Borders staff say that such diseases account for over 60 percent of the illnesses reported in the compound.

The fact that the UN has refused to allow the residents to relocate has confounded the relief workers, particularly since better conditions are relatively close by.

Representatives from the UN insist that the camp will be closed by the end of April, and that they acknowledge that the compound has turned into a massive health hazard and have already relocated approximately 1,300 people.

Nevertheless, it is not clear if the remaining refugees can be moved before the rainy season begins.  According to the UN, there is simply not enough space for all of the inhabitants in the Tomping compound, but the aid workers insist that better, dryer conditions are so close by, that they are actually within eyeshot.

In addition to the crisis in sanitation for the Tomping refugees, the displaced residents, unable to tend to crops after facing months of unimaginable violence, could potentially face starvation.  According to the United Nations South Sudan relief coordinating officer, the region needs approximately $230 million in order to combat what could be the most devastating example of mass starvation since the famine in Ethiopia.

By Julian Omidi


[1] Gladstone, Rick: U.N. Ignores South Sudan Camp Crisis, Charity Says 4/9/2014 New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/world/africa/medical-charity-sharply-criticizes-un-operation-in-south-sudan.html?ref=africa

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How Donated Unusable Medical Equipment Impacts Under Developed Regions


Julian Omidi discusses the impact the donation of unusable equipment has upon medical clinics in under developed regions.

Many hospitals and private organizations donate their unused supplies and medical equipment to clinics and nonprofit health initiatives in remote, undeveloped locations in order to give them the opportunities to perform the best and most modern treatments that they can.  Without these donations, many medical centers in poor regions wouldn’t have access to life saving drugs, gloves, sterilization tools, swabs, bandages and numerous other items that are essential for proper medical care.

However, there are many items that, although delivered with the best intentions, wind up being thrown away.  These items clog up landfills, waste valuable time for volunteer workers who have to sort through the equipment and cost quite a bit of money in shipment fees.[1]

Medical supply companies and hospitals who wish to donate equipment more often than not believe that health care centers are glad to get anything they can.  While this is largely true, it is unfortunate that the donations aren’t given much consideration.  Heavy electronic devices are sent without their instruction manuals, or even with all of the appropriate parts and accessories.  Machines that require consumables – fuel, water and electricity, which simply aren’t available in extremely deprived regions – are sent and are never operational.  Machines that are operational can’t be fixed when something goes wrong, and there is no one qualified to make repairs.  As a result, clinics are overrun with heavy equipment that is, essentially, junk.

Even the equipment that is useable can put tremendous strain upon delicate operations.  Clinics that operate with generators or old electrical systems can have most of their useable power eaten up by energy-sapping equipment.  This can actually put people’s lives in jeopardy.

In a report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), it was found that only between 10 and 30 percent of all donated equipment is ever used by the receiving hospitals.

How can foreign hospitals and medical suppliers ensure their donations are put to good use?  They can send only what all clinics, without exception, need.  Gloves, crutches, bandages, sanitation materials, feminine hygiene products, bandages and other supplies that developed world hospitals take for granted are desperately needed in the undeveloped world.

Another way donators can save themselves and the recipients time and money is to go through all of the equipment slated for donation and determine whether or not it actually works, if the parts and accessories are available and if the instructions are included.

The third and most effective method for donating successfully is asking the healthcare workers in the clinic exactly what they need and what equipment their facilities can handle.  If the donating party knows that the region has no one available to repair nonfunctioning equipment, or if the repair service is only qualified to work on the devices from a certain manufacturer, then they won’t waste resources shipping devices that cannot be maintained.

Many health centers in the developing world exist using exclusively donated equipment and supplies, so it is crucial that hospital and medical supply services keep giving.  However, it is no less important to donate only what can be used effectively.

By Julian Omidi

[1] Jones, Andrew: Medical Equipment Donated to Developing Nations Usually Ends Up on the Junk Heap Scientific American 5/6/2013 http ://www. scientificamerican .com/article/medical-equipment-donated-developing-nations-junk-heap/

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Food Cooperatives in Under-served Neighborhoods


The desire to create healthy food resources in urban areas has led to the sprinkling of food cooperatives in under-served neighborhoods, but will the residents bite?  In the following article, Julian Omidi discusses the attitudes about food co-ops in previously underserved regions.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that underserved communities are among the most malnourished.  In poor urban areas, the U.S. government has a designation for areas with limited access to fresh food: Food deserts.  The resources for these areas are typically fast food restaurants and convenience stores, where the only accessible categories of food are processed, rather than whole.  As a result, the inhabitants have far higher incidences of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. But are food cooperatives, with their organic produce and hip culture, the answer?[1]

Many urban areas are now undergoing a kind of resurgence. These neighborhoods are called “transitional neighborhoods,” but long-time residents consider it gentrification.  In Brooklyn, Oakland, Detroit and other major metropolitan cities, neighborhoods that were primarily inhabited by poor African American and Latino residents now have an influx of food cooperatives, many of them heartily endorsed by local governments and community organizations.  However, the food cooperatives are mainly frequented by the newer and more affluent residents, while being abjured by the long-time citizens.

It isn’t surprising that many locals aren’t going to the food co-ops – the brands are unfamiliar; the produce is organic (and more expensive); co-ops charge membership fees.  The fact that co-ops aren’t open to the general public and require an investment of funds and – often – labor, doesn’t sit well with the old guard.

These co-ops are situated next to familiar convenience stores and dollar shops, some of which sell a smattering of produce that is considerably cheaper than the free-trade, organic co-op alternatives.  Moreover, the culture of the co-op is alien.  Cooperatives are community owned, and therefore the community has a direct responsibility for the operation of the establishment.  For a person with two jobs who travels to and from work by bus, the obligation to devote additional hours to the upkeep of the new store might not be especially appealing.

The core issue is the convergence of two cultures that may not cohere, or even endure.  When a historically low-income community suddenly sees an influx of young professionals, the result isn’t typically the forging of a new kind of community spirit – it is the raising of rent and the systematic exodus of the old residents.  How then, can healthy foods be introduced into a deprived neighborhood without giving the impression that the people are being pushed away?

Hopefully, community organizations can develop relationships with the new neighborhood co-ops, and help their new neighbors understand their value.  If the co-ops are viewed as everyone’s resource and not merely a shop for the hip and privileged, then maybe they will flourish, and become valued parts of an evolving society.

By Julian Omidi

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Raising the Minimum Wage Could Help Close the Income Gap


Julian Omidi discuses a new study that finds that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could help lift nearly 5 million people out of poverty.

A study released from University of Massachusetts-Amherst economist Arindrajit Dube finds that if Congress were to go through with a plan backed by President Barack Obama to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour would reduce the poverty rate among Americans between the ages of 18 and 64. That would bring about 4.6 million people out of poverty directly and reduce the ranks of the nation’s poor by 6.8 million, accounting for longer-term effects.

To come up with his findings, Dube analyzed 23 years’ worth of data on past minimum wage increases, controlling for things such as regional differences. For comparison, he also reviewed previous literature on the average drop in the poverty rate after minimum wage increase and calculated the average of those averages.

Economist have debated that for some time over how much minimum wage increase affects the poverty rate, arguing that raising the minimum wage would barely make a dent in reducing poverty because many minimum wage workers are young people just working to make extra money.

Co-Director of the Center for Economic Policy Research, Dean Baker, says “…No, actually most of the people we see in the minimum wage are not in that boat. We’re looking at a lot of people that are the sole supporter for the family or main support of their family. There’s a large overlap between the poverty population and the people who would be benefited by the minimum wage increase.”

In addition to reducing poverty, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would offer other benefits. During the initial phase-in period of the increase, the U.S. economy would grow by $22 billion, resulting in 85,000 new jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute. It could also help close the income gap.

“If we’re interested in reducing inequality of family incomes, the minimum wage can plan an important role,” Dube said.

By Julian Omidi

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/02/1010-minimum-wage_n_4532723.html

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Julian Omidi Discusses the Millennium Development Goals

Julian Omidi discusses the Millennium Development Goals – goals set forth by the United Nations in order to eradicate global poverty, gender inequality, disease and environmental distress. 

In 2000, a summit was held by the United Nations for the purpose of addressing global development.  During the summit, eight objectives were established, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), for the purpose of strengthening struggling national economies, empowering women and promoting global environmental responsibility.  These goals were to have been implemented by 2015.  They were to[1]:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV, malaria and other virulent diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development


This initiative has been criticized for numerous reasons.  One criticism is that much of the funding for the above objectives went into debt relief for heavily indebted nations and disaster relief, which don’t directly contribute to the achievement of the goals.  Another criticism is that some of the goals are arbitrary and defy sound progress analysis.  Nevertheless, the MDG strategies have been implemented, and while some nations have been progressing and may be on track to meet the 2015 deadline, others haven’t achieved a single objective.


The fact that economic objectives in Sub-Saharan Africa aren’t being met and the lack of progress is being disguised by several African nations’ own governments is one of the major roadblocks to the success of MDG.  Several Sub-Saharan African nations are being hailed as being the fastest growing economies in the world, but the data, when closely inspected, reveals disheartening statistics. 48 percent of all Sub-Saharan Africans live on less than $1.25 per day – down from 58 percent in 2000 – but the number of poor has increased by 37 million.



While many countries in Africa seem to be developing rapidly and are experiencing a boom of luxury hotels, office complexes and high rises, there is nonetheless a growing population of devastating poor; people with no access to clean water, medical care or even shelter.  Nations such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Nigeria, while being the next growth areas for investors in Europe, China and the United States, score very poorly on the United Nations Human Development Index (Democratic Republic of Congo is at the very bottom).[2]


Another one of the goals, “Promote gender equality,” has been woefully unrealized in most African countries, according to female representatives from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa addressing a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The lack of progress stems from a lack of political and social will to change, something that has thus far not been addressed. [3]

Even though the realization of the MDG on a global scale might not be as soon as the United Nations anticipated or hoped, some countries have made progress.  Brazil has succeeded in achieving numerous goals (spurred on by the upcoming Summer Olympics, likely), as has India and China (China did not, however, meet the environmental goal).



[1] Wikipedia: Millennium Development Goals http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Development_Goals#Progress

[2] Nossiter, Adam: Behind Those Fast Growth Rates, Rising Inequality New York Times 11/5/2013

[3] Sum, Abigael: Most African Nations ‘Will Not Achieve Millennium Goals’ Standard Digital News 11/11/2013 http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000097494&story_title=most-african-nations-will-not-achieve-millennium-development-goals&pageNo=1


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Uganda Fights Poverty to Take On Breast Cancer

Julian Omidi looks at a report on how poverty and a lack of education about breast cancer is affecting Uganda as well as all throughout Africa.

Breast cancer is the world’s most common cancer in women and is the leading cause of cancer death, with 1.6 million cases a year and more than 450,000 deaths.

Breast cancer in Africa is usually not diagnosed until it has reached Stage 4, the final stage where the cancer has invaded organs or bones and cannot be cured. If the disease could be found earlier, this is known as “downstaging”, and treatment is started at Stage 3, before the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, they could increase a woman’s odds of survival by 30% according to the 2012 World Breast Cancer Report, published by the International Prevention Research Institute.

Unlike in richer countries that offer mammograms every year or two to all healthy women over the age of 40, there are nowhere near machines, or enough trained people in Africa to run the machines, to maintain them, and to read the scans properly.

Earlier diagnosis in Uganda would not require mammograms to search for tiny tumors too small to feel. Instead, American experts hope to help downstage breast cancer in Uganda by teaching doctors to use ultrasound to examine lumps that women have already noticed and identify those who need urgent treatment. Ultrasound works better than mammography in younger women, and can help distinguish cysts and other benign growths from lumps that need biopsies.

Uganda is trying to improve the treatment of all types of cancer. The Ugandan government has paid for a new hospital and clinic that has been added to the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala, but they have not opened yet due to a lack of equipment, as well enough trained people.

The biggest problems for breast cancer patients is that the cancer institute does not yet offer surgery or radiation, so women seek such treatments at Mulago Hospital. It has the only radiation machine in the country and it is long past its prime. There is such a high demand for treatment that the machine is kept running day and night, and there is a multitude of problems of bribery that delays or denies treatment.

The new hospital will bring the institute’s first operating rooms, with hope to add a radiation center. Hospital administrators also want to improve its pathology labs so they can perform tests that will help determine which treatments will best suit each patient. In addition, a new cancer research center with another clinic is being built with money from Uganda, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Hutchinson center in Seattle.

Dr. Jackson Orem, the direct of the cancer institute, believes what is ultimately needed is a nationwide cancer program involving clinics in remote areas and a system to refer patients who need specialized treatment to the cancer institute.

“My prayer,” Dr. Orem, 51, said, “is to see that by the time I retire, there is a system in place, a safety net for cancer patients.”

For more information, please check out this article from the New York Times.


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