Remember Zika? Yes, It Is Still A Problem
Even though the media coverage of the disease almost completely dropped off, it doesn't mean Zika vanished entirely. “The next outbreak is not a matter of if, but when,” said Dr. Ernesto T.A. Marques, a public health researcher at The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro. In other public health news: the idea of "real-world" evidence, acupuncture, stories from veterans, weight loss, Ebola, and more.
The New York Times:
The Zika Virus Is Still A Threat. Here’s What Experts Know.
With measles and Ebola grabbing headlines, it is easy to forget the health panic of 2016, when Zika was linked to severe birth defects in thousands of Brazilian newborns whose mothers were infected while pregnant, striking fear across the country and much of the Americas. As health officials struggled to halt its spread, the virus galloped through Latin America and the Caribbean that spring and summer and eventually reached the United States, sickening more than 200 people in Florida and Texas and prompting countless travelers to cancel vacations in the tropics. (Jacobs, 7/2)
Real-World Evidence Trial Generates Real-World Criticism, Too
It’s one of the most seductive ideas in medicine: that “real-world evidence,” including data from electronic health record systems and even records of insurance payouts, could replace the far more expensive and time-consuming studies currently considered the gold standard. The Food and Drug Administration is required, under the 21st Century Cures Act, to explore this idea. And late last month, New York private health care company Aetion published the findings of a study in which real-world evidence was used to try to replicate the results of a specific randomized, controlled clinical trial. (Herper, 7/3)
The Washington Post:
Medicare Weighs Whether To Pay For Acupuncture
Seeking ways to address chronic pain without narcotics, Medicare is exploring whether to pay for acupuncture, a move that would thrust the government health insurance program into the long-standing controversy over whether the therapy is any better than placebo. Coverage would be for chronic low-back pain only, a malady that afflicts millions of people. Low-back pain, acute and chronic, ranks as the third-greatest cause of poor health or mortality in the United States, behind only heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. (Bernstein, 7/2)
The Wall Street Journal:
To Improve Care, Veterans Affairs Asks Patients Their Life Stories
Thor Ringler’s bouncing step, red-framed eyeglasses and flowered-print shirts brighten the colorless hallway at the Madison VA Medical Center where he works. When he bursts into patients’ rooms, he makes sure they feel like individuals in a system that can too often feel impersonal. Mr. Ringler is at the forefront of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ effort to use what is known as “narrative medicine”—in which a patient is asked to tell their life story, and that story is included in their medical record. The goal is to tell doctors, nurses and other medical providers who their patient is beyond blood pressure, heart rate and other statistics on a chart. (Kesling, 7/3)
Previous KHN coverage: Mini-Biographies Help Clinicians Connect With Patients
The New York Times:
Why So Many Of Us Don’t Lose Weight When We Exercise
People hoping to lose weight with exercise often wind up being their own worst enemies, according to the latest, large-scale study of workouts, weight loss and their frustrating interaction. The study, which carefully tracked how much people ate and moved after starting to exercise, found that many of them failed to lose or even gained weight while exercising, because they also reflexively changed their lives in other, subtle ways. But a few people in the study did drop pounds, and their success could have lessons for the rest of us. (Reynolds, 7/3)
Los Angeles Times:
As Ebola Outbreak Rages, The World Just Watches. Some Call It 'Malignant Neglect'
The Ebola outbreak raging through Congo has sickened thousands of people and killed more than 1,500 — even as the number of new victims continues to climb. The situation is dire, but it's hardly unprecedented. Less than five years ago, an epidemic in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people, shattering communities, destroying economies and leaving a generation of orphans behind. When it was over, world leaders took a solemn vow: Never again. Health officials studied the failures of their sluggish and haphazard response so they would recognize the warning signs of a crisis not to be ignored. (Baumgaertner, 7/2)
The Associated Press:
To Boost Milk, Dairy Groups Support High School Coffee Bars
Coffee bars selling $3 iced lattes are popping up in high schools, helped along by dairy groups scrambling for new ways to get people to drink milk. It's one small way the dairy industry is fighting to slow the persistent decline in U.S. milk consumption as eating habits change and rival drinks keep popping up on supermarket shelves. (7/2)