News Round Up

WORLD POPULATION:  8,008,752,896

YEAR 2100 PROJECTION:  11,200,000,000 

U.S. POPULATION: 334,236,798 

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POLITICS & POLICIES

23 December, 2022: Health Affairs Forefront will not publish during the week of December 26 through December 30. We will next publish on January 3, 2023. Happy holidays to all, and see you in the New Year! Serious mental illness (SMI) is a construct widely used in mental health services policy. As discussed in detail in recent papers by Jeffrey A. Buck and Lauren Gonzales and colleagues, the construct has some shortcomings, but it remains a useful tool for allocating scarce resources. It is not a clinical condition but rather an administrative designation that has been defined differently across contexts. While critics have argued that the construct’s definitional vagueness presents challenges for enumerating the population with SMI nationally, those differences simply reflect the variable needs for the SMI designation across different settings. In his article, Buck sets forth the case that the construct is overly restrictive and stigmatizing. However, we contend that the narrowness is reflective of how the category is used to allocate scarce resources to those who are most in need. Stigma is not inherent in the terminology but rather, a reflection of the persistent stigma associated with mental illness more generally. The SMI construct entered into use in the 1980s in an effort to expand the priority population for mental health services and not to restrict services, and the term was chosen as a less stigmatizing term than the prevailing designations at the time. While Buck’s analysis emphasizes the perils of the current use of SMI, there is an instructive irony in the history of the emergence of the term.

https://www.healthaffairs.org/content/forefront/serious-need-serious-mental-illness-construct

22 December, 2022: This article is part of a Health Affairs Forefront short series, “Meeting America’s Public Health Challenge.” This series includes articles that reflect on and are inspired by a report of the same name released in June 2022 by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a National Public Health System. The series was developed and published with support from the Commonwealth Fund, a nonpartisan foundation. Health Affairs retained review and editing rights. After the September 11 attacks, Congress invested billions of dollars in what was largely an emerging field: public health preparedness. Entire systems were built at many governmental public health departments to make us be better prepared. Over time, the mantra became “all hazards”—that is, be prepared for a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, or a novel infectious disease outbreak. But as terrorism fears waned, Congress’ attention shifted, and funds were reduced.

https://www.healthaffairs.org/content/forefront/lessons-chicago-and-columbus-consequences-underfunding-public-health

PROGRAMS, PROJECTS, CONFERENCES, GRANTS, AWARDS & EVENTS

29 November, 2022: Today, CDC is awarding $3.2 billion to help state, local, and territorial jurisdictions across the United States strengthen their public health workforce and infrastructure. This first-of-its-kind funding provides awards directly to state, local, and territorial health departments to provide the people, services, and systems needed to promote and protect health in U.S. communities. Everyone in the United States lives in a jurisdiction that will receive funding under this new grant. “State, local, and territorial health departments are the heart of the U.S. public health system, and the COVID-19 pandemic severely stressed these agencies, which were already weakened by neglect and underinvestment,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H. “This grant gives these agencies critical funding and flexibility to build and reinforce the nation’s public health workforce and infrastructure, and protect the populations they serve. We are meeting them where they are and trusting them to know what works best for their communities.”

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/p1129-cdc-infrastructure.html

30 September, 2022: Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded more than $266 million in American Rescue Plan funding to grow the community and public health workforce.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building a robust health workforce to make communities healthy,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Patients depend on community and public health workers for care and medical information. These investments will equip community and public health workers with the skill sets needed to provide effective community outreach, increase access to care, and assist individuals with critical prevention and treatment services.”

https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2022/09/30/new-american-rescue-plan-funding-hhs-expands-and-strengthens-community-and-public-health-workforce.html

HISTORICAL, REPORTS, DOCUMENTS, DATA & INDEXES

Published since 1878 – PDF, Public Health Reports (PHR) exit disclaimer icon is the official journal of the office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service. PHR is published by SAGE Publishing Inc. through an agreement with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH). This peer-reviewed public health journal features bimonthly articles on public health practice, research, training, and writing. The oldest public health journal in US, PHR has covered throughout its history various important public health issues of the day. Explore the journal’s article collections  on the health harms of racism exit disclaimer icon and emerging viral pandemics exit disclaimer icon as well as a 2010 special issue exit disclaimer icon on 1918 and 2009 influenza pandemics. PHR’s entire output since 1878 has been digitalized and is available on PubMed. It is summarized in the 2006 collection exit disclaimer icon of commentaries by contemporary public health leaders highlighting the journal’s most impactful historic contributions and in the 2008 editorial exit disclaimer icon celebrating the journal’s 140-year anniversary.

https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/reports-and-publications/publichealthreports/index.html

The development of public health began in ancient times. Health measures involved, for example, the quarantine of leprosy victims in the Middle Ages. Early international efforts in disease control occurred in national quarantines in Europe and the middle east.  Over time, correlations between disease and environment were increasingly understood and refined, and from the 14th century onwards the plague epidemics spurred efforts to improve sanitation. During the last 150 years two factors have shaped the modern public health system: 1. The proliferation of scientific knowledge about the source and control of disease 2. Increasing acceptance of disease control as possible and as a public responsibility. This article presents a brief overview of the history of public health from the Middle Ages towards the present day, first beginning with a brief characterization of public health.

https://www.news-medical.net/health/History-of-Public-Health.aspx

RESEARCH

30 December, 2022: As a chronic pro-inflammatory disease, obesity is closely associated with the development of various diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers. Obesity is now a major concern for public health. Macrophages have been known to play an important role in the development of obesity. Recent studies have shown that adipose tissue-resident macrophages respond to the intake of fat, and regulate fat storage in a paracrine fashion. Macrophages are no longer just a “player”, but a “culprit” in the development of obesity.

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20221230/Study-reveals-novel-role-of-PPARceb3-acetylation-in-macrophages-in-impairing-adipose-tissue-function.aspx

29 December, 2022: In a recent study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, researchers compared coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-specific long-term consequences to other viral respiratory infections. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, an increasing number of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) patients have experienced persistent and long-lasting symptoms that linger for far longer than the typical duration of COVID-19 infection. A few symptoms, like fatigue, breathlessness, and brain fog, have been widely reported, but several other long-lasting repercussions of COVID-19 remain unexplored.

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20221229/What-are-the-long-term-consequences-following-COVID-19-and-other-viral-respiratory-infections.aspx

DISEASES & DISASTERS

30 November, 2022: Sam Norpel used to present regular financial updates to C-suite executives. Now, unpredictable bouts of broken, staccato speech make that impossible for the former e-commerce executive. Despite being up to date with vaccines and boosters, Norpel, 48, got Covid-19 in December 2021, when the highly transmissible omicron variant was fueling record U.S. caseloads. She never got better — and in fact, feels worse, with a range of debilitating symptoms that make it impossible to work.

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/11/30/why-long-covid-could-be-the-next-public-health-disaster.html

8 December, 2022: Thursday marks 1,000 days that Texans have been living under Gov. Greg Abbott’s public health disaster proclamation — an era of unprecedented gubernatorial authority for the state’s chief executive, triggered by the March 2020 scramble to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to kill Texans every day. The entire nation remains under a federal public health emergency at least through the winter season, which experts say could bring another wave of infections as families gather indoors for the holidays, immunity dips or virus variants sidestep older vaccines. But after more than 92,000 deaths and 8 million COVID-19 cases in Texas in the 32 months since the declaration was made, the state remains one of less than a dozen still under a statewide declared disaster or public health emergency.

https://www.texastribune.org/2022/12/08/texas-public-health-disaster-covid-greg-abbott/

TECHNOLOGY

27 December, 2022: Whether to provide more comprehensive patient care or prevent themselves from burning out, a growing number of physicians around the United States are making the transition to concierge medicine. These physicians care for fewer patients but spend more time with them, and by charging upfront membership fees, they avoid many of the hassles of dealing with health insurance. Though it began primarily as a service for the wealthy, concierge medicine is increasingly available and affordable. Meanwhile, though it remains a small percentage of all care delivered in the U.S., concierge medicine is poised for continued growth. Physicians and patients alike say they prefer the in-person care experience, while technology investments improve patient engagement and support more personalized care.

https://healthtechmagazine.net/article/2022/12/concierge-medicine-creates-better-patient-outcomes-perfcon

29 December 2022: ATLANTA (AP) — Parts of a law overhauling insurance coverage for mental health, new ways for parents to challenge materials used in schools and a tax credit for donating to police are among new laws taking effect Sunday in Georgia. Most Georgia laws take effect on July 1, but the General Assembly delayed some laws, or parts of laws, until Jan. 1. That is particularly true of some tax provisions for taxes collected on a yearly basis. Among the measures that took effect earlier in 2022 were a repeal of the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public, a ban on teaching certain racial concepts that Republicans say are divisive, and a $1.1 billion state income tax refund that sent between $250 and $500 to many households.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/georgia/articles/2022-12-29/mental-health-reporting-requirements-among-new-georgia-laws

CLIMATE CHANGE & ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

 30 December, 2022: The Biden administration this year signed into law a historic climate and tax deal that will funnel billions of dollars into programs designed to speed the transition to clean energy. The Inflation Reduction Act will have major implications for energy and manufacturing businesses, climate startups and consumers in the upcoming years. As 2022 comes to a close, here’s a look back at the key elements in the deal that climate and clean energy advocates will be watching closely in 2023. The Biden administration this year signed a historic climate and tax deal that will funnel billions of dollars into programs designed to speed the country’s clean energy transition and battle climate change. As the U.S. this year grappled with climate-related disasters from Hurricane Ian in Florida to the Mosquito Fire in California, the Inflation Reduction Act, which contains $369 billion in climate provisions, was a monumental development to mitigate the effects of climate change across the country. 

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/12/30/2022-climate-recap-whats-in-the-historic-inflation-reduction-act.html

26 December, 2022: The “microfinance” industry — long touted as a way to help poor, rural communities in developing countries — is pushing tens of thousands of farming families into debt traps as they attempt to adapt to a changing climate, according to a report. The study, conducted by researchers at a group of U.K. universities, looked at a range of case studies in Cambodia, where it found easy-access loans had caused an “overindebtedness emergency” that was undermining borrowers’ long-term ability to cope with their new environment.

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/12/27/facing-climate-change-asia-farmers-turn-to-risky-microfinance-loans.html

EQUITY & DISPARITIES 

15 November, 2022: A community health program that included exercise classes and hands-on nutrition education helped women living in rural areas lower their blood pressure, lose weight and stay healthy, according to a new study. Compared to women in urban areas, women in rural communities have higher cardiovascular disease risk, are more likely to have obesity and tend to have less access to health care and healthy food, previous research has shown. While community health programs have shown promise, little research has looked at these programs in rural settings. The new study focused on sedentary women, age 40 or older, who were diagnosed as overweight or having obesity. They lived in 11 rural communities in upstate New York. All participants eventually took part in the program led by health educators, but five communities were randomly assigned to go first.

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2022/11/15/a-new-route-to-keeping-women-in-rural-communities-healthy

28 December, 2022: If someone dies at home, if they have symptoms not typically associated with the disease or if they die when local health systems are overwhelmed, their death certificate might say “heart disease” or “natural causes” when COVID-19 is, in fact, at fault. New research shows such inaccuracies also are more likely for Americans who are Black, Hispanic, Asian or Native. The true toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on many communities of color – from Portland, Oregon, to Navajo Nation tribal lands in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, to sparsely populated rural Texas towns – is worse than previously known. Incorrect death certificates add to the racial and ethnic health disparities exacerbated by the pandemic, which stem from long-entrenched barriers to medical care, employment, education, housing and other factors. Mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point to COVID-19’s disastrous impacts, in a new analysis by the Documenting COVID-19 Project at Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation and MuckRock, in collaboration with Boston University’s School of Global Public Health; the USA TODAY Network; the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting; Willamette Week in Portland; and the Texas Observer.

https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/health/2022/12/28/uncounted-covid-deaths-disparities/10590932002/

WOMEN, MATERNAL, NEONATAL & CHILDREN’S HEALTH

5 December, 2022: The House Friday voted 390-26 to approve bipartisan legislation (H.R.8876) that would reauthorize the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program and double annual funding for the program to $800 million over five years. The Ways and Means Committee advanced the legislation in September. Funding for the program lapses if the Senate does not take action before the current continuing resolution expires on Dec. 16.

https://www.aha.org/news/headline/2022-12-05-house-passes-maternal-home-visiting-bill

Memora Health, which focuses on virtual care delivery and complex care management, hopes the initiative will reduce the burden on clinical and administrative teams at Mayo Clinic and extend the relationship between care teams and new mothers. Memora’s care programs digitize workflows and patient communications via AI-supported messaging and established clinical and administrative processes. The partners will track key metrics closely to assess the impact of the initiative, Memora CEO Manav Sevak told MedCity News. The pilot will measure how many patients report postpartum depression in the first six weeks after delivery so that they can be treated before symptoms become severe, as well as those who experience excess bleeding or ongoing body pain to see if interventions lead to reductions in emergency department or urgent care visits.

https://www.aha.org/aha-center-health-innovation-market-scan/2022-11-08-mayo-clinic-study-digitized-workflows-ai-backed-messaging-improve

POVERTY ALLEVIATION & ERADICATION

8 July, 2022: In its resolution 72/233, the General Assembly proclaimed the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018–2027). It also considered that the theme of the Third Decade, to be reviewed at its seventy-third sessions, should be “Accelerating global actions for a world without poverty”, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The core of the present report consists of an inter-agency, system-wide plan of action for poverty eradication to coordinate the efforts of the United Nations system, as well as recommendations concerning how to make the Third Decade effective. As the international community embarks on the Third Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, an estimated 783 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2013, compared with 1.867 billion people in 1990. Economic growth across developing countries has been remarkable since 2000, with faster growth in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita than advanced countries. This economic growth has fuelled poverty reduction and improvements in living standards. Achievements have also been recorded in such areas as job creation, gender equality, education and health care, social protection measures, agriculture and rural development, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. To eradicate poverty by 2030, given current rates of population growth, it will be necessary to reduce by about 110 million every year the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day. The United Nations system plays an important role in meeting that global challenge. The present section highlights priority areas of the response of the United Nations system as an integral component of global action for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. While the support of the United Nations system is necessary, it will have the most impact when countries put in place the right integrated policies to fight poverty at the local, national and regional levels, supported by an enabling international environment, as recognized in relevant resolutions adopted by Member States

https://www.un.org/development/desa/socialperspectiveondevelopment/2022/07/08/third-un-decade-poverty/

14 october, 2022: Washington, DC: Today, the EU signed a €100 million grant agreement (about US$97.2 million) for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT). These funds will allow the IMF to make about €630 million worth of zero interest loans for PRGT-eligible African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) facing balance of payments difficulties. Access to affordable finance is key to help these countries address the economic and food crisis situation worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The EU’s contribution is part of Team Europe’s response to the crisis as it complements pledges by EU Member States to channel Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to the IMF’s Trusts for on-lending and their grants to the IMF’s PRGT Subsidy Account. Team Europe has so far pledged to channel SDRs contributions equivalent to about $23 billion. Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “ Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has made many African, Caribbean and Pacific countries more vulnerable at a time when they were still struggling with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and millions of people are pushed into poverty and hunger. With our contribution to the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, we want to help them address this crisis and avoid further deepening of inequalities. Today’s signature also marks our commitment as Team Europe to multilateral solutions to tackle today’s most pressing challenges. Our partnership with the IMF is of key relevance in this regard.”

https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2022/10/14/pr22351-food-security-eu-contributes-100-million-euros-to-imf-prg-to-support-vulnerable-countries

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