News Round Up

WORLD POPULATION:  8,024,489,914*

YEAR 2050 PROJECTION:  9,800,000,000**

YEAR 2100 PROJECTION:  11,200,000,000**

U.S.  POPULATION:  334,549,831*** 






March 27, 2023: Recently, the Utah House of Representatives passed a bill that would have allowed pregnant women to use the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane. The Utah Senate rejected this bill. HOV lanes are intended to reduce traffic congestion and help the environment. They have no further ambition. Bills like this are really attempts to imbue a fetus with rights and interests to make an anti-abortion claim. Reasonable people would no more favor a solitary pregnant woman in an HOV lane than to expect that same woman buy two tickets for the movies. An attempt at a similar argument is underway in South Carolina, but instead of a traffic citation, the stakes are significantly higher. Members of the South Carolina State House are advancing House Bill (HB) 3549, known as the “South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023.” This bill aims not only to abolish abortion in the state, but also to make abortion a homicide in some circumstances. The bill seems to rest on the idea that personhood begins at the moment of conception. Based on this, the bill makes a further claim about equal protection and the due process owed to all people.

MARCH 28, 2023: The federal government’s recent repeal of its special licensing requirement for providers to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder (the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000/X-waiver) is a long-awaited and welcome decision that has the potential to expand access to this effective and life-saving medication. At the same time, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 included a provision requiring all providers who are registered to prescribe controlled substances with the Drug Enforcement Administration—such as physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants—to complete a one-time, eight-hour training on screening for and treatment of substance use disorder as a condition of receiving or renewing their registration. The act stipulates a range of organizations that can provide the training. The importance of an addiction care training mandate for health providers cannot be overstated. For more than a century, substance use disorders have been stigmatized and primarily treated outside of mainstream medicine, largely by providers without advanced clinical training. This sidelining of addiction care from standard health practice has contributed to the longstanding stigma associated with substance use disorder and the people who suffer from it and has created a norm of substandard care for a significant segment of the population.


January 13, 2023: CLEVELAND — If they do their work well — they’re the ones we don’t see. We’re talking about public health employees. “Sanitarians, environmental health specialists out there enforcing restaurant safety, helping with any kind of health code violations, people who are in our factories making sure the air quality is safe,” said David Margolius, director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health. Not to mention nurses who do vaccines, those who maintain safety in barbershops and tattoo parlors, help with addiction services and lead in housing. Now a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is now giving those essential workers a leg up. A partnership between the Cleveland Department of Public Health and Case Western Reserve University means the award will help pay tuition for free classes, all the way up to a free masters degree in public health for more than 50 practitioners.

FEBRUARY 16, 2023: the U.S. Department of Education (Department) is announcing awards of more than $188 million across 170 grantees in over 30 states to increase access to school-based mental health services and to strengthen the pipeline of mental health professionals in high-needs districts. With funding provided by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), these investments help advance the President’s Mental Health Strategy, which directly implements his Unity Agenda priority to tackle the mental health crisis in our school communities. These grants will enable communities to hire approximately 5,400 school-based mental health professionals and train an estimated 5,500 more to build a diverse pipeline of mental health providers in schools. These investments will begin the important work of broadening access to critical mental health supports by increasing the number of health care providers in schools. These funds also will help with strengthening the pipeline of certified mental health providers who are ready to work in schools with the greatest needs. These competitive grants are the first in a series of awards the Department will make over several years and constitute the largest investment in school-based mental health this country has ever made. Even before the pandemic, the wellbeing of many students was unmet due to insufficient access to high-quality mental health care. For years, schools have struggled to meet the recommended ratios for school-based mental health professionals, and this is especially true in schools with more underserved students. Now, the mental health crisis facing students has reached a critical point with more than one in three high school students reported experiencing poor mental health during the height of the pandemic. Research shows that children and young people learn more, report feeling safer, and develop more trusting relationships with their peers and teachers when their social and emotional needs are met with certified and accessible mental health professionals.


The Supplement on Aging (SOA) is a collaborative effort of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the National Institute on Aging External (NIA). The study was conducted by NCHS as a supplement to the 1984 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The sample is comprised of 16,148 NHIS participants 55 years of age and over and is nationally representative of the 1984 U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population in that age group. Data were obtained through personal interviews in the household, collected by U.S. Census Bureau interviewers.

In the United States there are an estimated 35-43 million people with physical and mental disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law in July 1990, is one of the catalysts prompting legal and policy reforms in the area of disability. However, policy-relevant data on disability needed to understand its many aspects and impacts is either very limited or nonexistent, particularly on a national level. In an effort to meet some of these data needs, four Federal offices (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Health and Human Services; Office of Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Administration (SSA); Office of Disability, SSA; and Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, Health Resources Administration) planned several national surveys about various aspects of disability in the early 1990’s. Because many of their interests overlapped, these agencies decided to merge their efforts into developing one survey to be included with the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for 2 consecutive years.


This research explored experiences across three cognitive function groups (no impairment, mild impairment, and dementia) with respect to shielding (either self-isolating or staying at home), COVID-19 infection, and access to health/care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Analyses were conducted using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) COVID-19 sub-study collected in 2020. We report bivariate estimates across our outcomes of interest by cognitive function group along with multivariate regression results adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, geographic, and health characteristics. Rates of shielding were high across all cognitive function groups and three measured time points (April, June/July, and Nov/Dec 2020), ranging from 74.6% (95% confidence interval 72.9–76.2) for no impairment in Nov/Dec to 96.7% (92.0–98.7) for dementia in April (bivariate analysis). 44.1% (33.5–55.3) of those with dementia experienced disruption in access to community health services by June/July compared to 34.9% (33.2–36.7) for no impairment. A higher proportion of those with mild impairment reported hospital-based cancellations in June/July (23.1% (20.1–26.4)) and Nov/Dec (16.3% (13.4–19.7)) than those with no impairment (18.0% (16.6–19.4) and 11.7% (10.6–12.9)). Multivariate adjusted models found that those with dementia were 2.4 (1.1–5.0) times more likely than those with no impairment to be shielding in June/July. All other multivariate analyses found no statistically significant differences between cognitive function groups. People with dementia were more likely than people with no impairment to be shielding early in the pandemic, but importantly they were no more likely to experience disruption to services or hospital treatment.

Through spatial–temporal scanning statistics, the spatial–temporal dynamic distribution of pulmonary tuberculosis incidence in 31 provinces and autonomous regions of China from 2008 to 2018 is obtained, and the related factors of spatial–temporal aggregation of tuberculosis in China are analyzed to provide strong scientific basis and data support for the prevention and control of pulmonary tuberculosis. This is a retrospective study, using spatial epidemiological methods to reveal the spatial–temporal clustering distribution characteristics of China’s tuberculosis epidemic from 2008 to 2018, in which cases data comes from the China Center for Disease Control and prevention. Office Excel is used for general statistical description, and the single factor correlation analysis adopts χ2 Test (or trend χ2 Inspection). Retrospective discrete Poisson distribution space time scanning statistics of SaTScan 9.6 software are used to analyze the space time dynamic distribution of tuberculosis incidence in 31 provinces, cities and autonomous regions in China from 2008 to 2018. ArcGIS 10.2 software is used to visualize the results. The global spatial autocorrelation analysis adopts Moran’s I of ArcGIS Map(Monte Carlo randomization simulation times of 999) is used to analyze high-risk areas, low-risk areas and high-low risk areas. From 2008 to 2018, 10,295,212 cases of pulmonary tuberculosis were reported in China, with an average annual incidence rate of 69.29/100,000 (95% CI: (69.29 ± 9.16)/100,000). The annual GDP (gross domestic product) of each province and city showed an upward trend year by year, and the number of annual medical institutions in each province and city showed a sharp increase in 2009, and then tended to be stable; From 2008 to 2018, the national spatiotemporal scanning statistics scanned a total of 6 clusters, including 23 provinces and cities. The national high-low spatiotemporal scanning statistics of the number of pulmonary tuberculosis cases scanned a total of 2 high-risk and low-risk clusters. The high-risk cluster included 8 provinces and cities, and the low-risk cluster included 12 provinces and cities. The global autocorrelation Moran’s I index of the incidence rate of pulmonary tuberculosis in all provinces and cities was greater than the expected value (E (I) = −0.0333); The correlation analysis between the average annual GDP and the number of pulmonary tuberculosis cases in each province and city from 2008 to 2018 was statistically significant. From 2008 to 2018, the spatial and temporal scanning and statistical scanning areas of tuberculosis incidence in China were mainly concentrated in the northwest and southern regions of China. There is an obvious positive spatial correlation between the annual GDP distribution of each province and city, and the aggregation degree of the development level of each province and city is increasing year by year. There is a correlation between the average annual GDP of each province and the number of tuberculosis cases in the cluster area. There is no correlation between the number of medical institutions set up in each province and city and the number of pulmonary tuberculosis cases.


March 27, 2023: Officials in Rolling Fork on Monday mobilized volunteers, organized logistics and opened a mobile hospital in the impoverished small town in western Mississippi clobbered by a ferocious tornado three days ago. Some 26 people were killed in the powerful twister that ripped through the area and town of 1,900 on Friday night, destroying many of the community’s 400 homes, snapping tree trunks like twigs and tossing cars aside like toys. “A disaster of this magnitude in a town this small and everything close together, people here are still in shock,” said Brad Bradford, a spokesperson for the emergency management agency in Sharkey County.

March 23, 2023: One of the strongest earthquakes in the history of Canada’s Alberta was likely caused by the underground disposal of wastewater by the oil industry, researchers at Stanford University and University of Alberta suggested in a study. The new findings contradict a preliminary statement from the Alberta Energy Regulator that said the earthquake was a natural event. “We are aware of the study, and we are continuing to investigate these events … due to the nature of seismic monitoring, any information should be considered preliminary until the investigation is complete,” the Alberta Energy Regulator said in an emailed statement. The study, published on Thursday, found that the injection of wastewater from oil sands operations in the area increased pressure in a fault area and likely triggered the earthquake. “The oil and natural gas industry takes induced seismicity very seriously. Protecting the public, workers and infrastructure is a priority. We are currently reviewing the Stanford study,” said Jay Averill, spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) in an emailed statement.


March 28, 2023: Developed by a Carle Illinois College of Medicine (CI MED) student, an emergent technology platform known as LAMP (Learn, Assess, Manage, Prevent) is showing promise in taking modern psychiatric care to the next level, beyond clinics or hospitals. The LAMP Platform aggregates patient data from mobile and wearable technologies, as well as a slew of mental and physical health-oriented applications. Also in the mix are cognitive games, such as those ingrained in the LAMP system itself. The machine-learning algorithms of the system then comb through the data to track an individual’s mental wellness over time. Indeed, the platform was the brainchild of first-year student—and, more importantly, lead architect—Aditya Vaidyam, who was helped by a Harvard-based team. “This kind of clinical model can really change the depth of care delivered to individual patients, but also allow a psychiatric care team to work with many more patients, too,” said Vaidyam. “It’s a healthcare delivery and resource allocation puzzle that we’re trying to solve with this model, and the end goal is increased access to quality care. Better care for more people.” LAMP, still a free, open-source program, has been readily accepted by the U.S. research community, and has already made its fair share of international forays as well. Vaidyam indicated that the broad range of data collected will be leveraged to get a handle on “what clinical care in psychiatry looks like for the next decade and beyond.” While the system is fully compliant with the often-stringent health information standards of the U.S., the level of variation in commercially available mental health apps and the resulting data-sharing woes of users prompted Vaidyam and the team to sculpt out a convenient database fitted with a peer-based systematic review-like rating model to help decision making.

March 24, 2023: According to a policy update recently published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service, a wider range of patients will have access to continuous glucose monitors. This sooner-than-expected announcement, which could effectively double the market for the devices, caught the likes of Abbott Laboratories and Dexcom off-guard. They, along with many other medtech makers, were eyeing a mid-2023 coverage change, and now the policy is expected to take effect on April 16. Dexcom, for its part, is projecting that this will help accelerate commercial efforts to the point of adding at least another 5,000 patients right after the switch. The company’s top brass estimate that the larger swath of potential device users could bring in roughly 1% of revenue for the year to the tune of 12,000 total added patients. The broader language used in the new guidelines includes individuals with non-insulin treated diabetes as well as a history of recurrent level-2 or at least one level-3 hypoglycemic event. An earlier draft called for simply covering daily insulin takers or those dealing with problematic hypoglycemia. Commercial insurers might end up offering broader coverage thanks to the looser language featured in the policy update.


MARCH 28, 2023: Our sea levels will remain elevated for thousands of years. Scientists around the world agreed on that in last week’s U.N. report about climate change, which found it is “unavoidable for centuries to millennia due to continuing deep ocean warming and ice sheet melt, and sea levels will remain elevated for thousands of years.” One of the problems with sea level rise is that it happens slowly, a tiny bit each year, making it a threat that people have an easy time ignoring. We do that at our own peril, according to Mark Merrifield, director of the Scripps Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation. “Over time, it is just undeniable. The measurements all say the same thing. The glaciers are melting and the ice sheets,” Merrifield said while standing on the Scripps Pier, a hub of scientific activity on the campus of the University of California, San Diego. Thirty percent of Americans live in a community near a coastline. And while those people don’t have the power to unilaterally solve the underlying problem of climate change, some communities are now grappling with how to adapt to sea level rise by constructing new defenses, restoring natural defenses, or just moving out of the way.

March 28, 2023: Plastics are responsible for wide-ranging health impacts including cancers, lung disease and birth defects, according to the first analysis of the health hazards of plastics across their entire life cycle – from extraction for manufacturing, through to dumping into landfill and oceans. Led by the Boston College Global Observatory on Planetary Health in partnership with Australia’s Minderoo Foundation and the Centre Scientifique de Monaco, the review found “current patterns of plastic production, use, and disposal are not sustainable and are responsible for significant harms to human health … as well as for deep societal injustices”. “The main driver of these worsening harms is an almost exponential and still accelerating increase in global plastic production,” the analysis, published in the medical journal Annals of Global Health, found. “Plastics’ harms are further magnified by low rates of recovery and recycling and by the long persistence of plastic waste in the environment.”


January 4, 2023: Each year, about 6 million people around the world die from sudden cardiac death caused by sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). For the past 5 years, researchers from the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), and the European Resuscitation Council (ERC) worked to improve SCA prevention and treatment through the ESCAPE-NET project, which concluded on January 1, 2023. During this time, more than 100 studies connected to ESCAPE-NET research have been published in peer-reviewed journals. One study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in December 2021 found that primary care visits rose sharply the weeks before a person experiences SCA. And another study, published in the European Heart Journal in May 2019, found that women receive less rapid resuscitation care from bystanders noticing they are having cardiac arrest than men, leading to a lower survival rate for women from SCA.

December 19, 2022: When acknowledging the impact racism can have on health, it is important to remember that less than a century ago racist ideas were given legitimacy by scientific and medical communities in Western countries. While Charles Darwin is held up as a symbol of rationality and scientific progress, it is important to note that his theory of evolution by natural selection in the Origin of Species published in 1849, was appropriated by eugenicists. Eugenicists argued for the selective breeding of humans with the aim of improving the heritable traits in a population. Originally, these ideas claimed that people on low incomes had lower mental capabilities and morals, and that preventing these people from being able to reproduce would prevent these traits from being passed on, allegedly improving the human gene pool. These ideas were quickly applied to preexisting ideas of racial categories of humans, with impacts on the health of people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, which we are still seeing today.


March 16, 2023: The U.S. maternal mortality rate increased to 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2021 from 23.8 in 2020, according to data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The maternal mortality rate for Black women was nearly three times the rate for white women. Mortality rates increased with maternal age, with the rate for women aged 40 and over nearly seven times higher than the rate for women under 25. AHA is committed to safeguarding mothers and babies by eliminating maternal mortality and reducing maternal morbidity. For more on members’ efforts, including case studies, podcasts, webinars and other resources, visit AHA’s Better Health for Mothers and Babies webpage.

March 09, 2023: The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs will host a webinar March 17 at 12 p.m. ET to help advocates keep eligible women and children enrolled in the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program when the COVID-19 public health emergency’s continuous enrollment requirement ends March 31. For more information on the continuous eligibility unwinding process, see the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ communications toolkit.


One of the last remaining major COVID relief programs — the expansion of SNAP benefits, aka food stamps — ends this month, pushing about 32 million Americans off a “hunger cliff.” Why it matters: Since 2020, massive expansions of funding for programs that serve low-income Americans have meaningfully lowered poverty rates for adults and children. That era is mostly ending. By the numbers: The SNAP emergency allotments kept 4.2 million people out of poverty, reducing poverty rates for children by 14% in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to a report published last year. The enhancements already ended in 18 states, affecting another 9 million, and advocates for the poor say they’ve seen more people in those places struggling to buy food — at a time when food prices are high, making every dollar count. “People are going to be hungrier,” said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, deputy executive director for the Center for Law and Social Policy. Federal grants to help with housing and childcare expenses are also expected to run out this year, and a provision to simplify Medicaid enrollment is ending.

March 9, 2023: In the past 50 years, scientists have mapped the entire human genome and eradicated smallpox. Here in the United States, infant-mortality rates and deaths from heart disease have fallen by roughly 70 percent, and the average American has gained almost a decade of life. Climate change was recognized as an existential threat. The internet was invented. On the problem of poverty, though, there has been no real improvement — just a long stasis. As estimated by the federal government’s poverty line, 12.6 percent of the U.S. population was poor in 1970; two decades later, it was 13.5 percent; in 2010, it was 15.1 percent; and in 2019, it was 10.5 percent. To graph the share of Americans living in poverty over the past half-century amounts to drawing a line that resembles gently rolling hills. The line curves slightly up, then slightly down, then back up again over the years, staying steady through Democratic and Republican administrations, rising in recessions and falling in boom years. What accounts for this lack of progress? It cannot be chalked up to how the poor are counted: Different measures spit out the same embarrassing result. When the government began reporting the Supplemental Poverty Measure in 2011, designed to overcome many of the flaws of the Official Poverty Measure, including not accounting for regional differences in costs of living and government benefits, the United States officially gained three million more poor people. Possible reductions in poverty from counting aid like food stamps and tax benefits were more than offset by recognizing how low-income people were burdened by rising housing and health care costs.


March 20, 2023: With a few back-and-forth exchanges, the artificial intelligence chatbot can quickly summarise funding opportunities for local humanitarians, explain complex grant requirements, and even draft passable project proposals. This made me wonder: How else could this technology be used to build a more transparent and accessible humanitarian system? Decolonising aid is one of the humanitarian sector’s greatest challenges – it would be naive to think that the solution lies in the internet’s latest AI fixation. But ChatGPT’s potential as an equalising force in humanitarian action shouldn’t be dismissed. What ChatGPT does reasonably well – transmit, clarify, and simplify information – are precisely the areas where hyper-technical aid industry requirements for funding have failed and excluded grassroots humanitarians around the world. If we refuse to pay attention to this new technology, we may miss out on opportunities to harness it for change. Here are four simple ways local and international aid organisations can use ChatGPT to help balance the humanitarian playing field.

March 20, 2023: An aid summit in Brussels this week circled around a familiar riddle for the cash-strapped humanitarian sector: Who has funding, who gets it, where does it go, and how does it get there. Staged by the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department, ECHO, the 20-21 March European Humanitarian Forum brought together aid workers, donors, and political players for public panels and behind-the-scenes meetings. It was the second edition of an event whose backers appear intent on making an annual affair. Here are three takeaways:

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