Transparent health care

In times of live or die questions, country comparisons are informative. It is the time to endorse, again and again, complete transparency to facilitate learning across borders (see recently The Guardian 13.5.2020). China has not been very transparent at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemia. Other countries should not follow this track in terms of lack transparency. This appies equally to transparency of hospital and care professionals doing amazing jobs in these critical times. No doubt about this. In order to learn about the need for qualified employees in this crisis, I recommend the full thread of the tweets from “Mary Poppins” on what it means to administer a respiratory machine to a patient.

The experience needed, the understanding of medical processes are only part of the story. Stress, mental overload, burn-out due to long-term shift-work and irregular working hours including frequent (unpaid?) overtime and lack of sufficient training may cause more fatalities than would otherwise be the case. Teamwork across shifts and weekends has to be effectively coordinated. Medication profiles need to updated and understood for adequate application from all team members not only the medical doctor or shift supervisor. In emergency situations panic control mechanism also are relevent features that have to be learned and experienced. In a previous analysis of data from 18.000 nurses in Canada we could provide evidence of the importance of some of these measures. Transparency is key. Cover-ups of past failures cost dearly in this global pandemia.  Full paper.

On Mortality in EU

It is normal business for demographers to deal with mortality and the statistics of mortality. The latest data I found from official European statistics from Eurostat refer back to 2015. They mention 571.000 potentially avoidable deaths in the Europen Union of the 1.7 Million deaths among the population younger than 75 years of age, the lower bound of average life expectancy. A look at the leading causes of preventable death shows that prevention of deaths due to alcohol, smoking and environmental causes beyond suicide could safe more than 200.000 lifes per year! Please pause a while in front of these figures.

In Germany we deplore more than 900.000 deaths each year and according to the statistical office on an average day during the year we have 2100 persons leaving us. In a severe case of influenza these death rates jumped for example in February 2018 to more than 3.100 persons in one day. Hence, keep calm and carry on with taking Covid-19 seriously, but no reason to panic.

Taking a look at our Belgian neighbors, the public health statistics on Belgian Mortality show a cycllical pattern of mortality with peaks in January for the influenza period and sometimes on hot summer days.  

Additionally, there are several severe environmental health hazards which we have gotten used to. Not much fuzz in public about these increased death rates any more. They include many preventable deaths as well. The deadly cocktail of fine particle dust in high traffic countries combined with peaks in temperature and ozone levels yield preventable peaks in death tolls across Europe not just in Belgian, different from region to region and city to city or suburbs or proximity to risky areas. No prove available yet, just coincidence data that need close monitoring. Please follow up on the web page of Epistat and the B-momo project.The EuroMoMo-project and data can be followed on the new webpage, commented by on the 23.4.2020. Late data reporting as accused for UK by the Financial times needs to be followed closely for all countries.

Students should build their statistical methods skill and get ready to use the statistical software R for further analyses useful to produce nice figures and even better advanced analyses.



Kaizen oder Kai’Zen bei Covid-19

Die Buchveröffentlichung zu Kaizen bei Pan Macmillan (Bild unten) hat mich erneut mit persönlichem Gewinn an die altbekannte Managementmethode anknüpfen lassen. Für viele ist Kaizen, ich mag lieber Kai’Zen als Wortspiel und konkretere Vorstellung zu den japanischen Kanji-Zeichen. Laut einem Wikipediaeintrag steht “Kai” für Veränderung und Wandel, “Zen” = zum Besseren, zum Guten. Der daraus resultierende kontinuierliche Verbesserungsprozess wurde in der Privatwirtschaft und dem öffentlichen Dienst geradezu zu einem neuen Mantra. Bei der Wahl der richtigen Indikatoren wie Patienten- oder Kundenzufriedenheit und eben nicht nur Kosten(senkung) kann das Anstoßen von Kai’Zen mittelfristig und langfristig wahre Wunder bewirken. Deswegen ist der Vergleich mit dem auf Schumpeter zurückgehenden Prozess der “kreativen Destruktion” d.h. dem Erfolg von radikalen Veränderungen stets sinnvoll. Viele Start-ups können von dieser Methode lernen, anwendbar bei sich selbst, in Gruppen oder für ganze Gesellschaften. In Zeiten von Covid-19 könnten wir auch sagen “von Viren lernen”. Kai’Zen ist “Bionics” pur. Aber genauso mit dieser Methode werden wir den Virus eindämmen und einen Impfstoff entwickeln. Die Viren bleiben gut in Kai’Zen, wir auch. Bleiben wir dran, wir haben den längeren Atem ;-). Einen der führenden Virologen Peter Piot hätte Covid-19 nun dennoch fast erwischt.



The exhibition of photos and film on “masculinities,liberation through photography” is an excellent example of how artistic approaches to central social phenomena enrich our understanding. The collection of images on masculinities enlightens and reveals the social construction of masculinity. All persons interested in such basic questions should grab the opportunity to pay a visit to the Barbican Centre in London until May 2020 (Later also in Berlin). Perfect choice of a location as the Barbican Centre represents a fine example of “brutal architecture” in London. This is already worth a visit for those not familiar with such concepts. Prepare to get lost somewhere in the multitude of cultural offerings. It feels like Centre Pompidou in Paris, but has additionally a splendid concert hall.

Depending on the time and location of our upbringing we are subject to different social constructions of masculinity. Browse through family collections of photos from grand fathers, fathers and your own youth and maybe your children. From the perspective of how masculinity has been framed at different epochs and across continents, it is obvious that masculinity just as feminity are constructed by social discourse, social choices and media representations. Make it a choice – nowadays – yes we can !
Read on with a critic published in “The Guardian” or “The Sunday Times“.



Ein Vergleich der Weiterbildung zwischen den Bundesländern zeigt besonders über Jahre hinweg seit 2007 keine besonders erfreuliche Entwicklung. Statt dem Fachkräftemangel wirksam zu begegnen, zeigt sich bei den Geringqualifizierten laut Mikrozensus ( DIE und Bertelsmann Stiftung) bestenfalls Stagnation. Während rund 12% der Bevölkerung 25+ an Weiterbildung teilgenommen hat, sind es bei geringqualifizierten Personen nur um die 6%.  Dringend werden neue Daten gebraucht und tiefregionalisierte Auswertungen dazu. Die von mir erstellten Grafiken zu Verläufen lassen zumindest kurz aufhorchen. Weiterhin Handlungsbedarf! nicht nur in Nordrhein-Westfalen, sondern auch in Baden-Württemberg.


E-Car Market and Sharing

2020 is supposed to bring many new E-Cars to the market. Car-Sharing with the retreat of DriveNow and ShareNow from several cities with only moderate prospects. The Brussels Motor Show, also called Auto-Salon including the #WeAreMobility hall is still going strong right at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020. Some of the established car-sharing companies like or are not even present at such events. has few visitors as relatively unknown sharing-company yet. Not many more visitors I spotted at with the attached scooter-sharing in Brussels and Antwerp.
The Auto-Salon gives a preview on E-Cars from most major companies. The E-go alternative has no presence there and competition of the big established companies from Europe and Japan take most of the space.
Most Consumers seem to want a practical solution to their mobility at a reasonable price, few seem to search for cars to show-off with. There is more “rational choice” around than in previous years. I should have done a survey to measure this, last time and this time round. This could be a worry to the industry as they are more used to sell “dream cars” than practical day-to-day mobility solutions.