Viewpoints: Investing In Climate Change For Public Health; How Do We Fix The Fentanyl Epidemic?
Editorial pages weigh in on various public health issues.
Investments In Climate Change Solutions Will Pay Off For Global Health
World leaders, beckoned by President Biden, are assembling on Earth Day, April 22, to create greater urgency to fight climate change. The summit is taking place during the worst infectious disease pandemic in a century. World leaders need to pay heed to the climate change warning signs that have been flashing for decades. Scientists and policymakers have long predicted that as human migration due to weather extremes brings people into closer contact with animals harboring novel pathogens, humanity will face increasingly grave health risks, including future epidemics and pandemics. (Alice Hill and Wayne C. Koff, 4/22)
The Baltimore Sun:
Fentanyl Deaths: America’s Epidemic Worsens In The Pandemic. What Do We Do About It?
After listening to April Babcock speak and weep about the son she lost to a fentanyl overdose in 2019, I went to reports for that year and learned that Austen Babcock of Dundalk was one of the country’s 70,630 drug overdose victims. Reports for 2020 are out and they’re even worse — staggering, really, and almost too much to bear after a year when hundreds of thousands died from a virus. But here it is, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: There were 87,203 overdose deaths across the country and 2,773 of them in Maryland. Our opioid epidemic continues. (Dan Rodricks, 4/20)
The Power Of Partnership In Improving Behavioral Health Access
America is in a behavioral health crisis. Long before the pandemic, poor reimbursement and budget cuts led to psychiatric hospital closures and a steady contraction in the number of behavioral health beds at acute-care facilities. Now we're facing a historic spike in behavioral health problems and our healthcare system has less capacity than ever to address it. Consider that more than 42% of people surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau in December reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, an increase from just 11% the prior year. Additional research has shown pandemic-related spikes in alcohol and drug use, including an increase in opioid overdoses. (Stuart Archer, 4/21)
Biden's Swift Kick On Medicaid Expansion Gives Hope To 1 Million Uninsured Texans
We regret to say that Medicaid expansion, even if begrudgingly approved by the Texas Legislature, is unlikely to cover the self-administered nose jobs that Texas Republican lawmakers have been flaunting for the past decade. Cutting off their noses to spite their faces, to quote the old proverb, the lawmakers have proudly rejected opportunities to provide health coverage to more of their fellow Texans, despite the fact that the federal government was offering to pay for nearly all of it and despite the fact that Lone Star State is home to the largest number of uninsured Americans of any state in the country. (4/22)
Asian Americans Face Barriers And Bigotry In Medicine
For so long, Asian Americans have been left out of critical conversations about race, despite longstanding barriers that impede their lives and careers. At the academic medical institution in New York City where I work, Asians and Asian Americans make up 32% of the student body and 24% of faculty and staff. Many of us, whether immigrants or US-born, may seem to fit the myth of the "model minority" -- successful, industrious, proof of the American dream. But we are far from a homogenous group, and Asian Americans of all classes and backgrounds are vulnerable to discrimination and violence. Asians around the country -- including doctors, scientists, technicians and medical secretaries -- are routinely harassed because of the way we look, our presumed inability to speak English and other stereotypes. (Augustine M.K. Choi, 4/21)
Los Angeles Daily News:
California Shouldn’t Scrap ‘Safeguards’ In End Of Life Options Act
Assisted suicide is already legal in California through the so-called End of Life Option Act, narrowly passed by the California Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015. The bill received opposition from both Democrat and Republican Assembly members and state senators but was passed, many feel inappropriately, during a Special Legislative Session focused on Medi-Cal funding. Despite the bill’s narrow passage, now just a few years into the new law, proponents of this law want to eliminate the very “safeguards” they used as arguments for its passage. The new bill, Senate Bill 380 by Sen. Susan Eggman will get rid of the scheduled 2025 review process that doctors, patient advocates, and legislators allowed for an examination of California’s experience with this controversial law. This new bill will also eliminate the 15-day safety period to receive the deadly prescription drugs. (Matt Valliere, 4/21)
New England Journal of Medicine:
Microbial Nourishment For Undernutrition
Hippocrates wrote “let food be thy medicine.” Although access to nourishing food seems to be an obvious solution to the global health crisis of childhood undernutrition, the solution is not simple from a social or metabolic perspective, or even from the perspective of a microbiologist. To effectively address childhood undernutrition, clinicians need to be mindful that both our human and microbial selves need specific nourishment to restore and maintain healthy development and growth. (Wendy S. Garrett, M.D., Ph.D., 4/22)