Participate in a short climate and health survey for public health professionals!

The IH Climate Change and Health Working Group requests your participation in this survey, Climate and Health: A Survey for Public Health Professionals. 

This survey is a collaboration between the IH Section and researchers at the University of Miami to assess members’ climate change knowledge, attitudes and behavior as well as member’s expertise, awareness and areas of interest in climate change.  The survey results will allow a comparison with findings of our 2012 IH member survey, Climate Change and Public Health Professionals, a Survey of the International Health Section of APHA.

Please see the survey flyer below for more information and contacts for any questions.

APHA Climate Change Survey Flyer

You may access the survey at the following link:  https://umiami.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_d5BdmxeddfWpZ0V

The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete and is confidential.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Mental Health and COVID-19

By Elena Schatell MPH (c) MMS (c) and Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

This is the second part of a IH Blog series, Global Mental Health: Burden, Initiatives and Special Topics.

Part II- Special Topics: Mental Health and COVID-19

The past few months have been an overwhelming time of uncertainty, frustration, fear, sadness and grief. At the end of December 2019, the Chinese city of Wuhan reported a cluster of pneumonia-like cases, and just a few days later, Chinese authorities attributed the outbreak to a novel coronavirus. By the end of January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) formally declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. In a media briefing on March 11, 2020, the WHO Director-General characterized the outbreak as a pandemic. Two weeks later, in a statement to the press, WHO Regional Director for Europe decided to focus his speech on an increasing topic of concern, mental health, stating “at WHO, we consider the consequences of COVID-19 on our mental health and psychological well-being to be very important.” With countries and communities around the world in voluntary and legally-ordered quarantine, and the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, the mental health implications of the pandemic are of paramount importance.  

Published research on the mental health impact of past global pandemics, such as SARS, MERS, and Ebola, give us insight into the immediate and long-term mental health burden that is to come with the COVID-19 pandemic. A study of the immediate impact of the 2003 SARS outbreak in a teaching hospital found that health care workers felt stigmatized, feared contagion and infecting their friends, family, and co-workers. Another study found that healthcare worker survivors had significantly higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression and posttraumatic symptoms one year after the SARS outbreak, compared to non-health care workers. During the SARS outbreak, suicide spiked among elderly Hong Kong residents and in Toronto, longer durations of quarantine were associated with increased prevalanece of PTSD symptoms. The psychological impact of quarantine is well documented in the literature. A recently published review in the Lancet summarized negative psychological effects and stressors. Psychological effects included post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. Stressors identified were frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma. 

There is emerging evidence from China on the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. An online survey conducted in China during the initial phase of the outbreak found that over half of the respondents rated the psychological impact of the outbreak as moderate-to-severe and about a third reported moderate-to-severe anxiety. A subsequent larger, nationwide survey in China found that 35% of respondents reported psychological distress. The effects of social media exposure on mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak was studied in China. This study found a high prevalence of mental health problems, with over 80% of participants reporting frequent exposure to social media.  Higher social media exposure was associated with higher odds of anxiety as well as a combination of depression and anxiety in adjusted models. 

Additional concerning data comes from a Chinese study that focused on the mental health of frontline health care workers. There are numerous factors that put this population at risk for poor mental health. These include the overwhelming workload, non-stop increase in confirmed and suspected cases, rapidly changing protocols, widespread media coverage, depletion of personal protective equipment (PPE), separation from family, and fear of infection. Researchers examined nearly 1,300 healthcare workers in China who were directly involved in the diagnosis, treatment and care of COVID-19 patients. They found that frontline healthcare workers were 50.4% more likely to have depressive symptoms, 44.6% more likely to have anxiety symptoms, 60.8% more likely to experience distress, and three times as likely to have insomnia compared to healthcare workers who were not on the frontline. 

As this pandemic continues additional research will be conducted to understand the burden and impact of mental health issues among community members and healthcare workers. The current evidence indicates that this pandemic is extolling a tremendous burden on mental health and well-being globally. In response to this growing public health need, a multitude of international, national, and local initiatives will or are being implemented. To learn more about some of these initiatives please stay tuned for our next blog post: Part III: Global Mental Health Initiatives and COVID-19.

About the Authors:

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 7.52.50 PMElena Schatell MPH (c) MMS (c)

Elena Schatell is a current student at Arcadia University enrolled in the Dual Master of Public Health/Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Program. She aims to promote public health in underserved communities as a future physician assistant. Her current public health interests include access to mental health services, stigma surrounding mental illness, and the relationship between faith and mental health. She has interned at the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) national office in Arlington, Virginia, working closely with the Advocacy and Public Policy team on conducting research on service barriers and state mental health policy. During her time at NAMI, she also authored articles for the Advocate magazine and blog.

McClintock.PictureDr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Dr. McClintock is an IH Section Member and Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences at Arcadia University. She earned her Master of Science in Public Health from the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. McClintock received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on health behavior and promotion. Her research broadly focuses on the prevention, treatment, and management of chronic disease and disability globally. Recent research aims to understand and reduce the burden of intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to completing her doctorate she served as a Program Officer at the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and a Senior Project Manager in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania she led several research initiatives that involved improving patient compliance and access to quality healthcare services including the Spectrum of Depression in Later Life Study and Integrating Management for Depression and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Study.

APHA opposes Trump move to cut essential WHO funding

Washington, D.C., April 14, 2020 – The American Public Health Association stands in solidarity with the World Health Organization and denounces the Trump administration’s decision to halt U.S. funding. Ending U.S. contributions to WHO will cripple the world’s response to COVID-19 and could harm the health and lives of thousands of Americans.

“WHO is in a race to treat, test and protect people from the devastation of COVID-19. Its leadership in combatting COVID-19 has been indispensable, irreplaceable and decisive,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, APHA’s executive director.

“Getting ahead of this virus requires a rapid global response and the coordination of multiple countries,” Benjamin said. “It is only with this coordination that we can accelerate the pace of research and generate the critical science-based evidence that is needed to save the lives of people in the U.S. and around the world.

“We must be singularly focused on using all of our assets, including WHO, to get in front of this insidious virus.”

WHO’s work is critical for:

  • Creating a comprehensive research and development agenda to get safe vaccines and effective therapeutics in play. A WHO-led approach allows multiple countries to work together to accelerate the pace of research and development and increase the amount of what can get done.
  • Addressing the next frontier of the pandemic, which will devastate low-resource countries and humanitarian settings. While more than 70% of the world remains underprepared to prevent, detect and respond to such public health threats, WHO has been working with low-income countries for to help them prepare. Strong, effective and functional public health systems within countries are crucial for reducing risks.
  • Leading the U.N. development system’s public health work at the country level. WHO works with vital operational arms of the United Nations, including UNICEF, the World Food Program and UNHCR. Though U.S. assistances is essential to aiding these countries, funding is still insufficient.
  • Supporting and coordinating supply chains for critical public health commodities, such as personal protective equipment and lab kits. WHO is the lead of the U.N. COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force for the global procurement of pandemic commodities. The U.S. is purchasing its own supplies, but if all countries did so on their own, prices would skyrocket everywhere. Bulk purchasing will help everyone.

“Now is not the time to undermine WHO’s vital work,” Benjamin said. “There will be a time for lessons learned once this pandemic is over. WHO has expressed a full willingness to participate in a thorough review of what has worked and what has not as we have raced to stop this disease, and we support their inclusion.

“Any effort to remove funding from WHO, particularly in this time of crisis, would be a crime against humanity and endanger the health of Americans and people around the world.”

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.

Happy National Public Health Week 2020!

nphw_looking_back

In the midst of the most challenging public health crisis of our lifetimes, it’s more important than ever to celebrate public health.

During each day of National Public Health Week, we focus on a particular public health topic. Then, we identify ways each of us can make a difference on that topic. These areas are critical to our future success in creating the healthiest nation, and everyone can do their part to help.

NPHW Daily Themes

  • Monday: Mental Health — advocate for and promote emotional well-being
  • Tuesday: Maternal and Child Health — ensure the health of mothers and babies throughout the lifespan
  • Wednesday: Violence Prevention — reduce personal and community violence to improve health
  • Thursday: Environmental Health — help protect and maintain a healthy planet
  • Friday: Education — advocate for quality education and schools
  • Saturday: Healthy Housing — ensure access to affordable and safe housing
  • Sunday: Economics — advocate for economic empowerment as the key to a healthy life

You can apply a COVID-19 lens to the NPHW daily themes and help us keep equity at the forefront of the ongoing worldwide conversation about public health.

How can you get involved?

Has your NPHW event been cancelled due to COVID-19? We have some ideas for celebrating while respecting the need for physical distancing.

APHA is hosting NPHW events entirely online this year, to protect our partners and neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about what APHA is doing, and what you can do to prepare without panic.

Our NPHW fact sheets are available year-roundon the NPHW website so we can keep the momentum and learning going. Learn more about this year’s daily themes and how you can be part of the movement for science, action and health, year-round.

Find additional info at: http://www.nphw.org/

The latest Section Connection newsletter is here!

Dear friends and colleagues,

It was so great to connect with many of you at the Annual Meeting. We hope you learned a lot from our sessions and got to know many of your fellow International Health section colleagues. A lot has changed in our world since November and it is my hope that our IH community can serve as a resource for you during these challenging times.

In this issue of Section Connection, you will hear more about the work our section is doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; learn more about how you can get involved with National Public Health Week; hear about the work that the membership committee does; read an interview with Dr Aisha Jumaan and Dr. Samer Jabbour who presented at our IH luncheon last year; and get up close and personal with IH section member – Dr. Yara Asi.

We will also share updates from the Climate Change and Health Working Group, the International Abortion Working Group, the Membership Committee, the Communications Committee, and the Nominations Committee.

Please click here to access our latest issue of Section Connection: https://tinyurl.com/SectionConnection13

We hope you continue to stay connected and involved with our section.

Sarah Shannon
International Health Section Chair