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Public Health in the News – October 26, 2014

Global

National

Chicago

  • The Chicago Department of Public Health’s social media campaign against e-cigarettes was analyzed, and researchers found that while Twitter can be used to spread useful information, public health officials should be careful that the response to the campaign does not promote misinformation.

Northwestern

  • NU’s Katherine L. Wisner was quoted in a New York Times article about the difficulties of treating postpartum depression.
  • Dr. Neil J. Stone, chair of a group that wrote guidelines for cholesterol management, is focusing on educating physicians in order to clear up misinformation that persists about treating patients with high cholesterol.
  • A study by NU researchers shows that music education may help troubled kids.
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital has agreed to accept any Ebola cases that may arise in Chicago.


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Public Health in the News – October 19, 2014

Global

  • An ambitious UNAIDS initiative aims to block the spread of HIV by 2020, banking on growing evidence that antiretroviral therapy (ART) equals prevention.
  • As the Ebola outbreak rages on, read a powerful, touching, and most importantly, useful piece by Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health.
  • A refreshing new website, Ebola Deeply, has emerged to try to put an end to all of the misinformation out there. The site focuses on facts and science and is a great resource for pretty much anyone.
  • The Guardian clears up 10 myths about hunger, presented in honor of World Food Day.

National

  • Mark Bittman,  author of “How to Cook Everything Fast” wrote a great op-ed in the New York Times addressing a question he hears a lot these days:  “How do we change the food system?” That’s a too-big, unwieldy and often disheartening topic, he writes, suggesting we reframe it as, “How do I change my relationship to food?”
  • What if food labels made clear the link between calories and physical activity? A new Atlantic article explores this potentially groundbreaking idea.
  • The US ranks worst among developed countries in infant mortality, with a high rate of deaths among low-income children aged 1-12 months, according to the CDC.

Illinois/Chicago

  • Illinois has declared itself ready for Ebola, should a case be found here. They’ve developed a new hotline and are conducting trainings with health workers.
  • Following the launch of the City’s “Check the Stamps” campaign, the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) issued 620 tickets to 165 businesses in a 60-day investigation on unstamped and loose cigarettes in businesses throughout Chicago.

Northwestern

  • Dr. Robert Murphy, director of the Center for Global Health, was quoted by USA Today on America’s Ebola response efforts.
  • David Cella, Chair of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, has received a prestigious international award for his contributions as a pioneer in the field of patient-reported outcome measures and his mission to put the patient’s voice in the center of health care.


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Public Health in the News – October 12, 2014

Global

National

Chicago

  • The director of the Illinois Department of Public Health says that the suggestion by Chicago Aldermen to screen all international travelers at Chicago’s airports is “overkill.”

Northwestern


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Stereotype This

NPHR Blog:

Editor’s Note: Although our blog is public health-focused, we believe it is important to continue to explore advances in  basic science and medical research as they impact public health and vice versa. In this spirit  we here recommend a thoughtful essay  by fellow NU Neuroscience doctoral student  about the biology behind racial and other biases. As public health workers and scholars, dealing with biases is an unavoidable part of our lives and work. From gun violence to health care disparity, prejudice and stereotyping alters our behavior – consciously or unconsciously. Perhaps understanding the biology behind our biases might help remove these unconscious prejudices. We encourage you to read this take on stereotypes, and to check out the Gray Matters blog!

Originally posted on Gray Matters:

On a crisp fall evening of November last year, a young woman was heading home after a night out with friends.  In the early hours of the morning, she reportedly sped down the street and hit a parked car.  Confused and discombobulated, she wandered to a nearby house in search of help, and after banging on the door, she watched as it opened to a man behind the screen.  He was standing there with his shotgun raised towards her.  Before she could say anything, he shot her in the face.

The facts of this story make it particularly shocking and horrific, but it is made more complicated by the fact that Renisha McBride was African American and her killer, Theodore Wafer is white.

Some scholars have argued that racial bias has declined due to strengthening of egalitarian social norms, but anyone who tries to argue that racism is a thing of the past is not…

View original 1,435 more words


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Public Health in the News – October 5, 2014

Global

  • Could the Ebola outbreak have been controlled earlier if global health leaders such as the WHO acted faster? An excellent Washington Post article explores the timeline the outbreak and where global health leaders went wrong.
  • Perhaps the answer to treating Ebola will be found in the blood of those who have survived it? An NPR article explores.
  • Another child thought to be cured of HIV was found to have relapsed. The child, who was born in Milan, was given an aggressive course of ARVs and was thought to be HIV free and was taken off medications and now faces worse infection.

National

  • With the first Ebola patient discovered in Dallas, TX, many US hospitals are realizing that they are unprepared and unequipped to deal with potential Ebola patients. Here’s some insight into how they are preparing.
  • Enterovirus 68 has been found in at least 500 patients, generally school aged children, across the U.S. What you need to know about this potentially dangerous virus.
  • Three news studies about the potentially dangerous hits to the head that college football players experience reveal interesting facts about player and coach lack of disclosure.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture just announced that $31.5 million is now available as grants to programs that help make farm-fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable for families who rely on food stamps.
  • Boomerang patients have been a longstanding problem for hospitals. Even though rehospitalizations were less common last year, nearly 1 in 5 Medicare patients returned within 30 days, costing taxpayers $26 billion extra.

Illinois/Chicago

  • October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month in Illinois. The month-long prevention and education campaign is aimed at reducing one of the leading causes of death for children ages one and younger – accidental sleep suffocation.
  • On Friday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Public Health launched its yearly awareness campaign to remind residents to get their flu shot. The campaign features outdoor transit, rail and billboard ads, as well as digital and broadcast ads that direct Chicagoans to various City resources to help protect themselves and others during flu season.

Northwestern

  • Workplace violence against healthcare workers in emergency rooms is a continuing problem that does not get enough recognition. Northwestern faculty member Rahul Khare, MD, is quoted in Safety & Health Magazine about this problem.
  • Researchers at Northwestern University have developed an early version of a blood test designed to diagnose depression. They tested the assay and reported the results this week in a study in Translational Psychiatry.

Event Reminder!
Northwestern Public Health Review is pleased to present the Annual Public Health Matters Seminar and Reception, with guest speaker Phil Fontanarosa, MD, Executive editor JAMA and Communicating Public Health through Pictures on Oct 7th. Art gallery and reception starts at 4:30pm, seminar is from 5pm-6pm at the Lurie Research Building – Atrium and Baldwin Auditoriums.


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Communicating Public Health

NORTH_IL01_PublicHealthMattersSeminar-1

About the Exhibit:

Pictures are powerful tools for storytelling. Effectively communicating health information is essential for public health success. Here we highlight images that tell historic and contemporary public health stories from the Rwandan Genocide to water sanitation during the Chicago Exposition.

These visual stories reflect the public health outreach efforts and research interests of faculty and students here at Northwestern University, as well as a rich collaboration between the NPHR and the UIC department of biomedical visualization.

Technological advancements have given us new tools to tell public health stories not only through words but through pictures. We must embrace the challenge and look for new ways to more effectively tell public health stories.

Featured works include:

“Public  Health in a time of war”, “Typhoid and the 1893 World’s Fair”,    “In Limbo”, “Por mi, por ti”, “Public Health in rural china”, “Land mines” and “Flesh and Blood”.

Date: October 7th, 2014
Art gallery and reception starts at 4:30pm
Seminar: 5pm-6pm
Location: Lurie Research Building – Atrium and Baldwin Auditorium


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Northwestern University Professor Involved in Ebola Case Detection: An Interview with Professor Rob Murphy

 by Kate Klein, MA, MPH

Professor Rob Murphy is Director of the Center for Global Health and John Philip Phair Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He also wears another hat—as Program Director at the Serefo Laboratory at the University of Bamako, Mali. There, his lab technicians are testing samples coming from people suspected of carrying the Ebola virus as they cross the border from neighboring Guinea or come through Mali’s airport. So far, approximately 30 samples have been tested, and fortunately none have come back positive for the virus.

Other countries in West Africa have not been so lucky. So far, cases have been discovered in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Nigeria. 6,574 cases have been reported officially as of Sept. 23, with 3,091 deaths. Liberia has been the hardest hit due to its extremely poor health infrastructure. Indeed, when asked about whether Mali was prepared for potential cases of Ebola, Dr. Murphy assured me that Malians expect that there will be cases, but that the country is extremely organized despite having very little money to spend on healthcare. “You can protect yourself and be prepared, even if you have little money,” said Dr. Murphy.

Working with the Serefo Laboratory, his team is able to receive a sample from the field usually in about 4 hours and have the results back in about 2 hours. With this level of speed, they are able to get results back to the quarantined suspect quickly enough to know if they are a threat or not. Part of the reason for this efficiency is because of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) investment in the Serefo Laboratory. The lab is accredited as a bio-safety level 3 (BS3) lab, which means it can decontaminate the suspected Ebola specimen before testing whether it is positive or not. There are few BS3-level labs in Africa because building and maintaining such a lab can be quite costly.

Murphy_Robert2008

When asked about the key takeaways everyone should know about Ebola, Dr. Murphy emphasized that Ebola is actually quite easy to prevent, though it is quite lethal and difficult to cure. He stressed that the virus is not spread by air, but by physical contact with bodily fluids. Thus, using universal precautions, such as hand washing and keeping distance from those infected, are enough to protect you. Mainly, he encouraged people to not be afraid, as Ebola is incredibly preventable.

Dr. Murphy also stressed that this outbreak cannot be contained by non-governmental organizations alone. Though Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and The International Medical Corps (IMC) are doing a great job, there needs to be greater investment by other world leaders in ramping up the delivery of medical supplies, the construction of health facilities, and the availability of trained health workers. He encouraged more “boots on the ground” and praised President Obama’s recent investment of funds and military troops to try to tackle to spread and relieve the already overburdened health systems in the affected countries.

When asked what the Northwestern community could do to help in Ebola relief efforts, he encouraged volunteering or donating to organizations such as MSF and IMC. “This is a wake-up call…it shows just how international we all are and how easily outbreaks can spread as people move across borders so readily.”

Find more updates on the Ebola response on the Center for Global Health’s website.

Donate to MSF here.

Donate to IMC here.


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Public Health in the News – September 29, 2014

Global

  • Nature News has a fantastic profile of Sheik Humarr Khan and other public health workers as they fought against Ebola in Sierra Leone.
  • Science is not enough to stop Ebola – we need social change as well.
  • We may have made huge progress in the fight against HIV, but there is a problem with the often-repeated sentiment that as long as HIV+ individuals take their medication, they will be fine. Mosaic has a fantastic piece profiling four people living with HIV in the UK – their stories of daily life, dealing with physical and mental health issues, are eye-opening.

National

Chicago

Northwestern


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Public Health in the News – September 21, 2014

Global

National

  • Sugar has long been known to raise blood sugar levels, thereby contributing to glucose intolerance and obesity. So why hasn’t the introduction of artificial sweeteners done more to lower the upward trend in obesity prevalence? A new study suggests that artificial sweeteners may also raise blood sugar by altering the content of the gut bacteria.
  • NPR’s Science Friday interviews Dr. Paul Ruggieri, who has just written a book about how money influences healthcare.
  • A new device has been developed that can help patients fight infections. The so-called “artificial spleen” can remove bacteria, viruses, and bacterial toxins from blood.
  • Caitlin Doughty, a mortician, has just published a book talking about her profession and advocates for a more open, accepting attitude towards death.
  • Few treatment options are available for people with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis, but a new global initiative is offering research money for scientists who are focusing on this more serious form of the disease.
  • A new projection of population growth estimates that the world will have over 12 billion people by 2100 – more than has been predicted by previous studies. Wired explains where the estimate came from and analyzes what this may mean for the sustainability of our planet.
  • President Obama signed an executive order this week that aims to develop a new plan for fighting the increasing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Northwestern


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Public Health in the News – September 14, 2014

Global

  • Scientists mapping the spread of Ebola gave grim news that it is likely to spread to hundreds of thousands of people and last up to 18 months more before it is under control.
  • A cool new device may help global health workers everywhere. Called K-1, it is the first syringe to automatically disable once it’s used. This new weapon in the fight against diseases spread by dirty needles was unveiled at the TEDMED conference in Washington, DC.

National

  • Though many people who bought their health care through the federal marketplace will be automatically renewed in June, officials are encouraging consumers to revisit the marketplace to compare plans and ensure that they get the right amount of financial assistance in 2015.
  • Some good news in the public health world! The US Geological survey announced that pesticide levels in our waterways have dropped, due to strictly enforced legislation, making it safer for humans to access these water sources.
  • Overriding the veto of the governor, the Missouri state legislature (majority Republican) has enacted one of the strictest waiting periods of abortions in the country – 72 hours.
  • An amazing gift of $350 million has been made to Harvard School of Public Health, now the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This is the biggest gift in the schools history.

Illinois/Chicago

  • After finding 11 confirmed cases of EV-D68, a respiratory virus, in Chicago, public health officials are sending messages for staying healthy through Chicago Public Schools. The best advice: wash your hands.
  • The Chicago Tribune published a nice piece on Chicago’s public health nurses.  Read it here.

Northwestern

  • The U.S. Department of Energy is set to collectively give Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign more than $8.4 million for clean energy and research and development.
  • In Chicago, most kids with asthma or food allergies don’t have a health management form on file at school, a new study by Feinnberg faculty member Dr. Ruchi Gupta, shows.
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