Viewpoints: Don’t Stop Studying The Effects Of Strip Mining; Responses To The Opioid Crisis
A selection of opinions on public health issues from around the country.
Lexington Herald Leader:
Health And Strip Mining? Study On
There’s no good explanation, no budgetary or scientific reason for ending a federal study into the possible health effects of living near surface coal mining in Appalachia. This study is well underway. The only reason the Trump administration would pull the plug now is to please the coal industry. And that reason is not good enough when so many people are waiting for answers. (8/23)
Eastern Kentucky Is The Hub Of Sickness And Death - And It's Getting Worse
It’s a sad truth that Appalachia lags behind the rest of the country – dramatically by some measures – when it comes to health, but a new report shows that the gap between Appalachia and the rest of the United States is expanding. And the worst health disparities tend to be centered in Eastern Kentucky. Not coincidentally, the nation’s highest smoking rates are found in Kentucky, where 9,000 people a year die of smoking-related illnesses. (Ben Chandler, 8/24)
Community-Based Prevention And Strategies For The Opioid Crisis
Solving the unrelenting opioid crisis has become a pressing national priority. As evidence, the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis recently urged President Trump to declare “a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.” Critical to future progress will be leveraging the full resources of the community—in partnership with health professionals—to prevent misuse, addiction, and death. (Howard Koh, 8/22)
Reframing The Opioid Epidemic As A National Emergency
On August 10, 2017, President Trump announced his intention to declare a national emergency following the recommendation of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Opioid abuse is among the most consequential preventable public health threats facing the nation. More than 600 000 deaths have occurred to date, with 180 000 more predicted by 2020. Of the 20.5 million US residents 12 years or older with substance use disorders in 2015, 2 million were addicted to prescription pain relievers. A declaration of a national emergency authorizes public health powers, mobilizes resources, and facilitates innovative strategies to curb a rapidly escalating public health crisis. (Lawrence O. Gostin, James G. Hodge Jr. and Sarah A. Noe, 8/23)
Why Did HHS Pull The Plug On Programs To Prevent Teen Pregnancy?
A month ago, the federal government sent a “Dear John” letter to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “Due to changes in program priorities,” the letter began, “it has been determined that it is in the best interest of the Federal government to no longer continue funding” the grant for one of our hospital’s teen pregnancy prevention programs. This one-page form letter, sent from the Department of Health and Human Services, arrived almost a year to the day that HHS initially approved our five-year project with glowing reviews about how the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is “recognized for innovative service and training models, leadership in community collaboration, and research regarding adolescent issues” and has “over 50 years of experience in implementing programs in safe and supportive environments for youth and their families.” (Marvin E. Belzer and Arlene Schneir, 8/23)
The Best Shot At Overcoming Vaccination Standoffs? Having Doctors Listen To – Not Shun – Reluctant Parents
Health care providers can influence vaccination rates with the right attitudes and message. However, providers do not always have accurate perceptions of parents’ views and concerns about vaccination. Some overestimate parents’ concerns, while others are unsure of how to approach conversations about possible vaccine side effects so that they are not misinterpreted. (Mary Politi, 8/22)
For Good Health, There's No Place Like Home
When low-income individuals get stable housing, their stress usually goes down and their health improves. It’s easier for people like Jane to go to follow-up appointments without worrying about where she will be sleeping that night. She has a place to store her medications and can now spend her time and effort making healthier food choices or exercising. Stable housing allows victims of domestic violence to find a safe haven and improve their mental health. It also reduces overall health care expenditures by contributing to an increase in the use of primary care services and a decrease in emergency department visits. (Ersilia M. DeFilippis, 8/23)
The New York Times:
Brain Injury And The Civil Right We Don’t Think About
The last time I saw Margaret Worthen was in November 2012. She was in New York participating in a study of patients with severe brain injury. As soon as I walked into her room, I knew something had changed. She was still immobile, but she noticed my presence, was more attentive and engaged. And there was something else: She at times was able to use her left eye to answer simple yes or no questions. That morning, she seemed to relish her new found fluency. She responded with verve, as if the determined downward swoop of her eye could signal an exclamation point. (Joseph J. Fins, 8/24)
America's Dental Crisis Is Happening. Here Is The Solution.
After World War II, America faced a severe shortage of primary care. Doctors struggled to meet the rising demand brought on by the baby boom, while the cost of care became increasingly unaffordable. In 1965, the first nurse practitioner training program launched at the University of Colorado. The result: a mid-level practitioner and increased access to care for the average American family. Today, history repeats itself in the form of a national dental crisis. (Jennifer Minjarez, 8/24)
Pregnancy And The Surgeon—Too Many Opinions, Too Little Evidence
A gender gap continues to exist in many subspecialties of surgery, often considered a profession more suitable to men because of physically demanding working conditions and long hours not always conducive to family life. Many studies cite this perceived conflict as the principal reason a career in surgery is avoided by female graduates. At a time when surgery is faced with recruitment challenges globally, addressing factors that make surgery less appealing is critical if surgery is to continue to attract the best physicians, irrespective of sex. (Ailín C. Rogers and Deborah A. McNamara, 8/23)