AMWA, Global Health Resources

Just back from the excellent American Medical Writers Association National Conference in Dallas, TX.  The keynote was given by the always eloquent Karen Wooley (Proscribe) and the podcast will be available to members on the AMWA site soon.  Members of the Southeast Chapter gathered for cocktails and dinner on Thursday evening and discussed the upcoming meeting on November 12th.

The Global Health Chronicles website launched yesterday.

“Using video and audio oral histories, written materials, photographs and seminars, The Global Health Chronicles (GHC) website documents the work of public health professionals to eradicate smallpox. That accomplishment was officially recognized on Oct. 26, 1979.” Collaborative project by Emory Libraries, Emory Global Health Institute, Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Google.org.

Recently I stumbled over this great resource: Supercourse – Epidemiology, the Internet and Global Health.

“Supercourse is a repository of lectures on global health and prevention designed to improve the teaching of prevention. Supercourse has a network of over 65000 scientists in 174 countries who are sharing for free a library of 4096 lectures in 31 languages. The Supercourse has been produced at the WHO Collaborating Center University of Pittsburgh, with core developers Ronald LaPorte, Ph.D., Faina Linkov, Ph.D., Mita Lovalekar, M.D., Ph.D. and Eugene Shubnikov M.D.”

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Catchup post – first of several to come

Of course swine flu is dominating public health here and everywhere.  Watching and being a part of the response from inside CDC was an amazing experience.  There’s a lot of folks over there who haven’t slept since April.  Their first summary in the MMWR signaled the beginning of a much larger epidemic.   The ACIP held a special meeting in July to determine priorities for the vaccine – with pregnant women topping the list.  Pregnant women have suffered severe complications from this virus with 28 maternal deaths and numerous other complications including several  fetal deaths and unprecedented numbers of emergency c-sections in the ICU.  The overall picture is not much better, people with underlying medical conditions suffering the greatest burden. Microsoft brings you brings you this nifty flu assessment tool developed at Emory University. I have found CIDRAP to be one of the best tools for the latest in pandemic news.

Vaccine Dinner Club kicked off the year with a great presentation on Vaccine Refusal by Dr. Saad Omer.  They are working on getting podcasts up but are a few months behind.  As soon as it is available I will link up.  Many of the findings he presented can be found in his May NEJM article: “Vaccine Refusal, Mandatory Immunization,  and the Risks of Vaccine- Preventable Diseases.”  I was relieved to hear that he asked healthcare providers to refrain from demoralizing parents who ask questions about immunizing their child.  He pointed out that it was entirely reasonable and even expected that parents understand medical procedures for their children and that scolding them for wanting a better understanding of the process was unlikely to convert anyone.

Local humanitarian and public health advocate President Jimmy Carter celebrated his 85th birthday on October 1 to coincide with the reopening of the Carter Center Library.  Shortly after he and several colleagues traveled to the Dominican Republic and Haiti regarding their progress towards eradicating lymphatic filariasis there as well as efforts to combat malaria.  The trip report gives a nice summary of the task force trip.

Lastly, most everyone has heard that the CDC settled on a new director, Dr. Thomas Frieden.  By all accounts internal and otherwise so far so good, but he sure does have his work cut out for him.

Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 5:31 am  Leave a Comment  

……and we’re back.

My official internship at the CDC is over and was amazing.  I’m well into semester 3 at Emory and gearing up for midterms.  With my hands freed  I’ll ramp this site back up.  So much has happened in the past 3 months it’s hard to know where to start so I’ll post an amalgam of the highlights in local public health.

Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 3:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Tracking the Swine Flu

I’m in finals this week but here’s a link to track the swine flu cases.

Published in: on April 27, 2009 at 2:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Guest Post on Epi Times

See my post today on the Epi Times about the relationship between MRSAs and hog farms entitled Big Farma.

Published in: on March 15, 2009 at 5:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Future of Human Health & TED Talks

Oculture is featuring a Stanford talk done TED style called The Future of Human Health.

TED2009 is happening this week in California!

Published in: on February 5, 2009 at 5:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cultural references to public health in Atlanta

BLOODLINE: AIDS AND FAMILY

The Atlanta Photography Group Gallery is presenting Bloodline: Aids and Family January 9 – March 6.  Looking at the incredible images on the Bloodline website reminds me that images can be so much more powerful than the barrage of words we hear every day on the subject.   The blurb from Creative Loafing:

Photojournalist Kristen Ashburn has trained her lens on devastation of the political kind (Iraq) and devastation of the natural kind (Hurricane Katrina). In BLOODLINE: AIDS AND FAMILY at the Atlanta Photography Group Gallery, the New York-based photographer turns to devastation of the human kind. Beginning in 2001, Ashburn traveled to sub-Saharan Africa and spent months documenting the impact of the disease on the family and social landscape. The results are 31 black-and-white lightbox images of the young and the old, the healthy and the sick, caught in unguarded everyday moments. Ashburn speaks about her work Sat., JAN. 31. Artist talk: Free. 10:30 a.m. Exhibit: Through March 6. Free. Wed.-Sat., noon-4 p.m., or by appointment. Tula Art Center, 75 Bennett St., Space B-1. 404-605-0605.

MS. EVERS’ BOYS

As the Bloodline ends, the local production of Ms. Evers’ Boys starring Jasmine Guy begins in March on the 4th and runs through March 21st. True Colors Theatre Company is presenting this drama at the Southwest Arts Center.  From the press release:

An eye-opening drama about the Tuskegee Study, a scar on American history where 399 African-Americans were deceived by the United States Public Health Service. Chronicled through the experiences of a nurse (played by Jasmine Guy) who attempts to aid four men but self-serving doctors and Washington bureaucracy thwart her efforts.

Directed by Kenny Leon, Featuring Jasmine Guy, Eugene Lee, E. Roger Mitchell. March 4-21, 2009 with preview performances March 1 & 3, 2009 at the Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road, Atlanta, GA 30331

Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Grady bills adjacent counties for their $75M usage

Grady hospital billed surrounding counties for services rendered to their residents including $10 million to Cobb County, $12.6 million to Gwinnett County, and $13 million to Clayton.  Fulton and Dekalb Counties pay Grady about $100 million per year and were not billed for services rendered to their residents.  The AJC’s headline on the topic today was “Grady’s $75M bills to counties called a stunt” as reactions from the counties billed were ridiculed.

Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens said Cobb would not pay the bill. Cobb’s two large hospitals provide about the same amount of unpaid care for DeKalb and Fulton residents, as Grady provides for Cobb residents, Olens said.

No data was provided in the AJC article to refute or support Olens’ claim about Cobb County’s hospitals. Grady continues to take progressive steps to stay open.  As the region’s ONLY trauma 1 center, Grady is providing services to these county’s residents that could not be provided in their own counties.  Cobb County (and other counties) residents would no doubt suffer far greater damages without Grady’s support.

Published in: on January 28, 2009 at 1:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Eradication hope

In exciting global news, the Carter Center has several health, control and eradication programs, one of which is nearing goal.  The Guinea Worm Eradication Program produced a decrease in Guinea Worm cases from over 3.5 million cases in 1989 to fewer than 5,000 at the end of 2008.  The Carter Center’s director of health programs Dr. Don Hopkins and the Director of the Guinea Worm eradication program Dr. Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben spoke about this remarkable progress as well as challenges and future goals at the center’s monthly event Conversations at the Carter Center. You can see the webcast of this event on the Conversations page.  Upcoming events include Beyond Free and Fair, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009, 7-8:30 p.m. and Mental Illnesses:  Myths and Realities, Thursday, April 16, 2009, 7-8:30 p.m.

Watch the beautiful and gripping video documentary (~10 minutes) called Guinea Worm’s Last Stand: Southern Sudan.

Other eradication programs that are on the heels of Guinea Worm include Lymphatic Filariasis whose effort is also being spear-headed by the Carter Center, as well as Polio, a global initiative.  Guinea Worm is expected to be the first disease eradicated since the worldwide eradication of Smallpox in 1979.  In these respects it is an exciting, hopeful time in public health.

Recently the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and United Kingdom Department for International Development committed $55 Million towards GW eradication.

The $40 million grant from the Gates Foundation is the largest challenge grant in Carter Center history. It includes an outright contribution of $8 million and encourages other donor organizations and individuals to provide an additional $32 million, which the Gates Foundation will match one-to-one. The successful completion of the challenge will raise $72 million to finish Guinea worm eradication.

Published in: on January 24, 2009 at 3:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Politics as usual…

Vaccinations

I was dismayed to see this article about 99 Atlanta schools who have allowed 30-80% of K-6 students to attend classes without proof of vaccinations or waivers.  Fulton County Schools have had to police themselves without assistance from the local health departments who are usually responsible for auditing the schools for compliance to the state standard of 90% or more of students showing vaccinations. Pockets of unvaccinated children are an increasing concern across the country.  They increase the risk of outbreaks for everyone including vaccinated children 5-10% of whom may not be protected by vaccines.  Recent outbreaks are occurring all over the U.S. for preventable diseases that many pediatricians have not seen for years or possibly ever including Hib in Pittsburgh, Measles in several midwest counties and in the west.

Public Safety

This recent brutal murder in Southeast Atlanta is emblematic of rising crime rates that seem to coordinate with police furloughs due to budget problems with the city.  Mayor Franklin has not been able to meet her goal of 2000 police officers on the street during her entire term and is not able to work with city council to balance the budget to find money to pay the ones we already have.  With Georgia unemployment up EIGHTY PERCENT to 8.1% and no resolution in sight for police staffing problems, things seem bound to get worse in the short term.

Politics

These two public health issues alone hint at Atlanta’s struggling infrastructure, a shameful legacy for a town with so much potential.  The upcoming mayoral race is an opportunity to “…pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America” or at least Atlanta.  It’s time to get involved.

Published in: on January 23, 2009 at 2:23 pm  Leave a Comment