April 6th, 2011
Apr. 4-10 is National Public Health Week, I found out when reading Yahoo’s health reform Twitter feed. The American Public Health Association (APHA) is spearheading the week’s activities. The week’s theme this year is “Safety Is No Accident: Live Injury-Free.” Following is a selected sampling of what some foundations are funding in public health.
Do You Live in a Healthy County? Find Out Here.
Marin County, a suburb of San Francisco, was recently ranked the healthiest county in California. And in Alabama, Shelby County, the fastest-growing county in that state, came in at number one.
Where I am getting this information? On Mar. 30 the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) published online the County Health Rankings of almost every county in the United States. The rankings look at various measures affecting health, such as access to healthier foods, air pollution levels, rates of smoking, and rates of obesity. According to an RWJF e-alert, this “is the only tool of its kind that allows people to see how their county compares with [other counties] in their state and against national benchmarks in areas like diabetes screening rates or number of uninsured adults, and makes it possible for leaders in all sectors to identify gaps and work together to develop solutions.” As you can see, not all of the measures pertain to public health per se, but there is certainly information that is relevant to public health.
“The County Health Rankings confirm the critical role that factors such as education, jobs, income, and environment play in how healthy people are and how long they live,” a press release explains. In other words, “much of what affects health occurs outside of the doctor’s office.” These factors are called “social determinants of health”; you may have heard this term used by researchers. The rankings look at more than 3,000 counties, as well as the District of Columbia.
To determine the “Health Outcomes” rankings, you just click on your state (or Washington, D.C.) on a map of the United States. A listing of how the counties ranked pops up. (Montgomery County, Maryland, where my employer, Health Affairs journal, is located, ranked second-healthiest in the state—whew!)
Go to the FAQs; they are worth your time to read.
While I am on the subject of geography and health, a new online tool called ResistanceMap allows one to track “the rapid rise of antibiotic resistance.” This resistance occurs when bacteria are able to survive even after treatment with a course of antibiotics. The maps, developed by Extending the Cure, a research project funded in part by the RWJF, indicate regions of the United States where this public health threat is especially severe. The maps change colors to show the resistance level each year from 2000–2009. For instance, I looked up the resistance of E. coli (a major cause of community-acquired urinary tract infections) to the drug ciprofloxacin for people being treated on an outpatient basis. Read the Mar. 3 press release announcing ResistanceMap. The RWJF’s funding of this work falls under its Pioneer Portfolio.
In Sep. 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report that includes content on “superbugs” (defined here as multidrug resistant bacteria), such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (better known as MRSA); “the role of health care facilities” in antibiotic resistance; and how the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA) is responding to the global resistance crisis .You can read the report titled Antibiotic Resistance: Implications for Global Health and Novel Intervention Strategies: Workshop Summary online for free or purchase the 496-page paperback report, online, for $85.50. Two foundations—the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the Merck Company Foundation—are among the numerous funders of this publication. Eileen R. Choffnes, David A. Relman, and Alison Mack served as “rapporteurs” at the workshop.
“CDC: Salmonella in Turkey Burgers Resistant to Antibiotics,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Apr. 5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that certain frozen turkey burgers are infected with a strain of Salmonella bacteria, and that strain “is resistant to many antibiotics,” reporter George Mathis says in the article. Read detailed information from the CDC about these incidents here. The agency notes that the resistance “can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.”
Food and Health
Shelley Hearne, managing director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Health Group, commended enactment of U.S. food safety legislation. Pew, a public charity, issued a statement titled “Pew: Enactment of Landmark Legislation Will Limit Dangers in the U.S. Food Supply,” Jan. 4, after the U.S. Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the law. Hearne noted that this was a “historic bipartisan effort.” Pew has initiatives in both Food Safety and Produce Safety; they are part of its Health Group’s work. I hope that the new law can help avert outbreaks such as the following.
“CDC: Salmonella in Turkey Burgers Resistant to Antibiotics,” described above.
Global Public Health
The Open Society Foundations have a Public Health Program. The term “public health” seems to be used a bit more broadly in this program than it often is. (For example, this program includes projects on both mental health and palliative care.) The foundations’ program is mainly active in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Southern and Eastern Africa, Southeast Asia, and China, according to the foundations’ website.
An Open Society Foundations fact sheet released in March says that the medication naloxone is “safe and effective,” says author Roxanne Saucier, in treating overdose among people who inject heroin or other opioid drugs. The nine-pager is titled “Stopping Overdose: Peer-Based Distribution of Naloxone.”
Health Professions Education/Public Health
“Fairbanks Foundation Gives $20 M to IUPUI Public Health School,” Indianapolis Business Journal, June 15, 2010. This grant from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, its largest ever, is for establishing a public health school at Indiana University, the funder says on its website. The school, which will focus on urban health, is expected to open in fall 2011. Click on the above link to the business publication to find out more about this huge grant for a public health school on the university’s Indianapolis campus (called Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis).
Click here to find out about the Fairbanks Foundation’s funding in health. Please note that this foundation generally funds only in the Greater Indianapolis area (especially Marion County), according to the FAQs on its website.
The 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccination Campaign: Summary of a Workshop Series, another IOM report, focuses on this campaign to prevent what some called “swine flu.” Because of the spread of the H1N1 virus, the World Health Organization declared in June 2009 “that a global pandemic was under way,” the report reminds us. The vaccination effort was one of the largest public health campaigns in U.S. history, and in the first three months of the campaign, a quarter of the U.S. population was vaccinated, the report notes. Topics covered include vaccine supply, vaccination rates in certain populations, and funding and payment issues. Two foundations—the RWJF and the United Health Foundation—are among the numerous funders of this report, which was released in Oct. 2010. Read the report for free online or purchase it online for $31.05. Clare Stroud, Lori Nadig, and Bruce M. Altevogt served as rapporteurs.
Improving the Health of Fourteen California Communities
Read about the California Endowment’s ten-year initiative called Building Healthy Communities. For more information, including a list of the fourteen California communities that are participating, visit http://www.calendow.org/healthycommunities.Email This Post Print This Post