Did you know that National Infant Immunization Week started in 1994 as a part of the World Health Organizations effort to increase awareness of the positive effects of vaccinations? Every year since, the World Health Organization WHO, holds this infant immunization week sometime every April. This year it is to take place April 22nd to the 29th.
The goal is almost exactly the name, infant immunization. The WHO strives to incorporate the positives of routine vaccinations into the early health and development of children. One of the flaws of having developed a means to help prevent these childhood diseases is that no one remembers how devastating they could be. In 1920, only 68% of children in the world made it to age 5. That was less than a hundred years ago. Last year that number was at roughly 99.5% in the United States.
There has been some argument that administering so many vaccines, usually 3 or 4 at the same time, overloads the child’s immune system. That has been proven to be false, as they have new immune system. Everyday their immune systems fight off millions of disease causing agents. These vaccines introduce the body to damaged or dead diseases that would otherwise cause harm if they interacted with the live strains.
One example of what mass vaccination has prevented is Polio. There has not been a case of polio that originated in the country since 1979. Every year it would cause several thousand deaths, in addition to paralyzing,blinding or causing damage to the nervous system for tens of thousands every year. Based on historical data, we need an absolute minimum of 86% of the population vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of polio. You would think that it would be closer to 100% than the minimum, but in 2012 only 92% of the population vaccinated.
There are many examples that prove that vaccinations help prevent epidemics, so why take the risk of not vaccinating?
Healthy People 2020 Goals/Evidence-Based practices
This Saturday there is going to be a series of marches and protests occurring in 358 cities in the United States and over 500 world wide. The March for Science is the first event of it’s kind. It is a call for support from all students, science-based careers and anyone who benefits from scientific advances (psst that’s everyone). It’s a nonpartisan even that is urging policy makers to look at evidence based practices and scientific data to influence their policies and ruling instead of money.
You can find a city near you here that is holding a march. The Fargo/Moorhead area is holding a large one that is expecting several thousand visitors. Here are some of the missions or goals that the March for Science hopes to achieve.
- Evidence-based policy and regulations in the public interest. They wish for policy makers to make decisions not altered by other agendas.
- Cutting-edge science education. They believe that a science background isn’t only for a select few, the entire majority of the population should be able to interpret scientific literature.
- Diversity and Inclusion in STEM. This comes into play with the previous mission, they wish to have an outreach in education.
- Open, honest science and inclusive public outreach. Several policies that have been passed recently have banned or limited the exchange of scientific literature and dialogue. By restricting access to the newest information, the governmental body is harming it’s people.
- Funding for scientific research and its applications. Under the proposed 2018 budget, all scientific bodies with federal funding will see a cut from 10% to 31%. They wish to change so that we are capable of producing more advancements.
In the few months that this has been planned, they have partnered with over 300 different scientific agencies and centers. Here is their page for the MN marches specifically. They have several social media accounts; check them out on Facebook, Twitter,and Instagram.
Join us tonight to for a presentation by Bobby Chakraborty. He will be talking about the difficult subject of addiction. His presentation will be in CMU room 121 from 4 to 8.
One of Bobby Chakraborty uncles died while addicted to a substance, and this is what he says motivates him during his presentations. He originally aspired to be a marine engineer. During this time he saw several of his friends fall into substance abuse and wouldn’t let him help them. He felt he wasn’t making a big enough difference, which lead him to a drastic career change. He made the career change to acting, but struggled at first. For the first three years he could only land small roles, but for the last eleven years he has been in the limelight.
Now he is making a difference and is being invited to schools and public forums to help fight a war on substance abuse and addiction. The tagline for his campaign is “I am the king of my mind.” He wants to help end current addicts addiction and prevent new users by showing them that sometimes the only thing they need is willpower to make a difference in their own lives.
Here are some quick facts to bring the struggle with addiction home.
- 21.5 million Americans struggled with some form of addiction in 2015. That’s roughly 7% of the population. If you had 20 people in a room, someone would be struggling with addiction.
- Only 10% of people that need help receive it in the United States. That figure is much lower in other parts of the world.
- Of the people that get the help they need, between 40 and 60 % will relapse in their lifetime
- 10% of the American population claim to be recovering from an alcohol or drug addiction
- In 2011, 5 million emergency room visits were drug or alcohol related.
Here’s a question for you, let’s see if you can get it. Which of the following are duties, accomplishments or topics based in Public Health?
- Creating local food markets
- Seeing patients and diagnosing illnesses or disorders
- Setting the Minimum Wage
- Eradication of smallpox and near eradication of polio
- Setting speed Limits
- Advises individual treatment options to patients
The answers are local food markets, setting a healthy minimum wage, the eradication of smallpox and speed limits. The other two options, diagnosing illnesses or disorders and advising treatments, may seem like the right answer, but these are actually the duties of healthcare professionals.
Public Health is population focused while healthcare is individual focused. Food markets are encouraged by public health specialists because they give local fresh food instead of fast food which would possibly lower the obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease rates for that neighborhood or city. Setting the minimum wage at an appropriate level that it would allow individuals to cover their basic health needs and decrease the amount of money lost in the healthcare system and economy do to poverty. By use of mass vaccination, Public Health specialists were able to make it so that next to no one gets polio and no one gets small pox. Instead of treating, they prevented and averted the continuing disability and death caused by these diseases. Speed limits was a tricky one, but they are set by public health at levels that decrease accidents.
It took hundreds of thousands of generations to get the life expectancy up to about 40 years at the beginning of the 1900’s. Thanks to public health efforts and an advancement in medicine we have added 30 years to that in three generations. While this is great, the United States is ranked 34th for life expectancy. One of the goals of National Public Health Week is to create the healthiest country in just one generation, by 2030.
Now, can you think of some careers or people that you would consider in public health? You can probably think of health educators, either in high school or community level. If you know the fancy term epidemiologist you’re right on the money. Here are some examples of people that this week is honoring.
- All High School teachers- By educating the young to graduation, you decrease the chances of poverty
- Environmentalists- Having a healthy environment, both for work and play, has a tremendous impact on our overall health
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counselors- A healthy mind is also included in being considered a healthy person.
- Environmental Health Emergency Response Expert- These are the people that coordinate for disaster relief during an earthquake, hurricane, flood or other disaster.
- Consumer Safety Officer- These are the people that make sure producers are following the FDA’s regulations and guidelines to ensure that the food supply is health.
- Researchers- Be it Vaccine, Treatment, Development or any other kind, they play an essential role in moving our health forward.
- There are many more and the list would go on and on if everyone was put on here.
Join us this Thursday night (23rd) for a presentation featuring the internationally recognized figure Michael Osterholm. Osterholm was a co-author for the book Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs. During the presentation he will be talking about several threats and topics concerning the public such as:
- the reality and emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria
- bio terrorism as a certainty
- the increasing risk of a devastating influenza pandemic
After the event he will be having a book signing event. The presentation will be in Langseth Hall 104 at 7 pm on campus.
This month long observation is recognized in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. In the U.S. alone there are 2 million cases of self-injury reported annually, mostly among youth. It’s time to end the stigma of self-harm.
Self injury is any deliberate, non-suicidal behavior that inflicts injury on one’s body. Although self injury is not a suicidal behavior if the emotional trauma that causes one to self-harm continues it can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. People often self harm as a way to confront emotional pain. When most people think of self-harm they often think of cutting, but there are many other forms. Actions such as burning, scratching, consuming harmful products such as bleach, pulling out clumps of hair, bruising, and breaking bones are all forms of self-injury. Self-injury is a coping mechanism and is seen as another way to deal with the emotional pain that many experience, but have difficulty handling or processing. Self-injury occurs across all ages, genders, races, and beliefs. If you know someone who self injures reach out to them and follow the tips below to do so successfully.
- Get angry or show disgust. Negativity alienates and ultimatums only drive the person away from you.
- Deny the problem. It’s not the person’s problem or just one of his/her ‘things’. It’s not a fad, social statement or a phase he/she will grow out of.
- Hide sharp objects. If the person wants to self-injure, he/she will find a way.
- Judge the severity of the injury as an indicator of the level of emotional pain. A severely depressed person might only have scratches instead of cuts.
- Assume the person is okay once in treatment. Recovery from self-injury can take months, maybe even years.
- Stay calm. Freaking out won’t solve anything. It will just close all lines of communication.
- Talk. Be non-judgmentally supportive. Ask “Why are you doing this to yourself?”
- Take the problem seriously. It’s not about attention-seeking or a growing pain.
- Seek treatment. Accompany the person to the doctor or counselor but don’t be pushy about privacy.
- Find the triggers. Focus on the underlying problems rather than just the injury.
- Trust the person. Self-injury is just a small part of the person.
It’s time to end the stigma of self-injury and help those who self-injure. Visit the links below for more resources on helping individuals and how to end the stigma.
Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/terezia-farkas/self-injury-awareness-month_b_6810634.html http://selfinjury.com/
Every year 40,000 people are formally diagnosed with HIV. Currently there is an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV. The number that should be getting diagnosed is actually much higher, as 13-20% of the 1.2 million are unaware that they are infected.
What most people don’t know about HIV is that there are three stages, AIDS being one of them.
- Acute infection. About 2-4 weeks after being infected, the individual will suffer many flu symptoms in addition to severally swollen glands and a borderline headache/migraine. Many people describe this stage as the worst flu of their life. The individual can transmit the virus to others as soon as 2 weeks after being infected.
- Latency. After this the virus goes into hiding. It will continue to multiple at low levels in your blood. There will be no visible symptoms, and this stage can last anywhere from a few months to decades. The individual can still transmit the virus to others at this stage.
- AIDS. The individual’s immune system crashes. It allows them to be easily infected by another infection. The life expectancy once you get to this stage is under 3 years. The individual is still contagious until the very end.
There are medications that can be taken to slow the rate or chances of one’s latency from progressing to AIDS, like ART (Antiretroviral Therapy). Two other drugs have recently come onto the market. PrEP and PEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis) work as precautionary measures to decrease the likelihood of infection. PrEP can be taken daily for as long as you are at risk and PEP can be taken after an encounter where you believe you were exposed. They work to lower the likelihood of infection by as much as 97%.
There are several things that one can do to lower their chances of infection.
- Where a male/female condom during every sexual encounter. This includes oral and anal as well as vaginal. HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids and vaginal fluids. A condom decreases the chances that one will come in contact with one of these mediums. Women are even more likely to be infected during vaginal sex then their male counterparts. The infected semen has a large surface area to come in contact with and can remain in the vagina for several days, increasing the risk.
- Be treated for other STDs. More so then men, women increase their chances of HIV by having by having another STD. The other STD lowers any barriers the body may have making it easier for the virus to get in.
- Avoid injectable drugs. By sharing needles or using needles of unknown history, you may be contaminating yourself with infected blood.
- Avoid the misuse of alcohol and drugs. These cause impairments in your decision making abilities. Doing so may decrease the chance of using a condom or increase the chance of using a needle.
- Be monogamous. If that is not an option, talk to your sexual partners about their history. If someone is unsure of their status, have them get tested. For now, under Obamacare you can get tested for free.
- Take PrEP. It may be expensive, but this preemptive move may save you more than what you would spend if you did contract HIV.
- Take PEP. If something happens and you think you might have been exposed, begin taking the necessary doses of PEP within 72 hours of the contact.
There are also several threats that only effect women. This awareness day works to bring attention to both the above facts and these. Women are more likely to be the victims of sexual abuse.People that have histories of abuse are more likely to not go in for testing. They are also less likely to receive treatment for HIV if they are already positive. The abuse itself might give frequent exposure to the virus.
Women are also able to transmit the virus to their children through breastfeeding. Mothers are warned to not breastfeed their babies and to find a local breast milk bank or to use a formula. If the mother does, the chances of the baby becoming infected decreases to less than 1%.
For more information visit www.womenshealth.gov.