I took this picture several months ago, in a street close to my apartment. Lost in a sweet inebriated state, these homeless persons were friendly, and agreed gladly to be photographed.

When I took the photo, I found it funny that in Paris, even homeless winos would drink wine in stemmed glasses.

I took the photo, put the file into my computer... and did not show it to anyone. I felt ill at ease because I realized afterwards that it was not funny. According to a counting published lately, there are approximately 86,000 homeless people in France, a country with about 65 million inhabitants, of which at least 15,000 are in Paris. One can guess there are even more in reality though. Many hide because of bad weather, fear, or shame.

According to another study, 112 homeless people died in France from February to October, 2005. Their mean age was 49, while life expectancy of men and women in the country is 77 and 84 years, respectively. The youngest one was 31 year-old, half people were under 50. Twenty-one died a violent death: 8 murders, 7 blazes, 6 falls.

As a doctor myself, and although I rarely receive homeless people as patients, I know these persons often suffer chronic diseases. Their main illnesses are related to undernourishment (lack of vitamin C and calcium essentially): infections, anaemia, bleeding, neurological and cardiovascular disorders, bone fractures. They can be treated for free thanks to universal health coverage, but most of them are outside any network of socialization, and they don't know. Then, chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure are not diagnosed or treated. Furthermore, homeless people often have heavy consumption of tobacco and alcohol, that induce cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis and cancers.

No, after all, this pic is not that funny.

5 comment(s):

    This is a topic that you know I have written about. The homelessness problem in American is huge, and I know people who have been homeless. I wrote about it here: http://www.allegrissimodesigns.com/blog/2008/01/homelessness-in-america-entry-for.html

    It is not funny, and should be brought to light as much as possible.


    I read you blog about this topic indeed Mariposa, when you posted it a couple of months ago. I should have put it as a reference, thank you for correcting my oversight!


    Oh, I was not correcting you at all. I merely wanted to refer your readers to my blog as well to show the American side of the problem. I think your blog was more poignant than mine.

    Thank you my friend.


    I just watched the movie SiCKO by Michael Moor. I think, by God, you guys are gonna live :P...

    the numbers are alarming and should be acted upon swiftly. but I find myself very optimist regarding how you guys will handle that! odd eh?


    Oh yes, Sicko, how to make a funny movie from terrible facts. I wrote a blog about it last year, that is on blogspot also now (http://billy-the-kidney.blogspot.com/2007/09/icko.html)

    From a US point of view, there's no doubt the level of health coverage and social brotherhood we have in Europe is a dream. Yet many homeless people, who are treated for free in any hospital, don't know they can go there, or don't want to go.

    On the contrary, desocialisation is probably increasing in western Europe, and I am afraid our present 'bling-bling' president will not change anything about it.


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