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Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

AHRQ Report Shows Gains in Access to and Affordability of Health Insurance

More people have health care coverage, have a usual place to go for medical care and can more easily afford medical bills after the Affordable Care Act’s provisions have taken effect, according to a new report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report and 5th Anniversary Update on the National Quality Strategy. The report finds that the rate of uninsured Americans under age 65 decreased from 18% to 10%. For 18- to 29-year-olds, the uninsured rate declined even further, falling by more than half, from 31% to 15%. Among poor people ages 18-64, the uninsured rate fell from 44% to 25%. Substantial gains in health care coverage also were found for Hispanic and black adults ages 18-64. The cost of health care coverage also became more affordable as fewer people overall reported having trouble paying medical bills within the past year. Poor people (below the federal poverty level) ages 18-64 saw the greatest benefit, and all racial and ethnic groups showed a decline in payment problems during this period.

The report features annual trends on more than 250 measures of care quality, access and disparities that cover a broad array of health care services and settings. Overall, the report shows that quality of care is improving, particularly in hospitals, and for measures that are being publicly reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. However, quality of care is still less than optimal overall for many Americans. Disparities related to race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status continue to impact the care that many people receive. For example, the quality of care for blacks, Hispanics and American Indians and Alaska Natives was worse than that for whites for about 40% of the report’s measures.

CDC Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grants

In January the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Library of Medicine announced that public health departments can now use funding from the CDC Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grant to access journals, publications, the latest evidence and additional resources through the Public Health Information Access Project (PHIAP) of the National Library of Medicine. The mechanism was developed through the Centers for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services at the Centers for Disease Control working with partners inside CDC and outside the agency. The goal of the project is to provide low-cost access to high-value, evidence-based resources to improve public health practice in state public health departments. Costs must be tied to state work plans. To obtain access to library services for your state health department, refer to the list of state block grant contacts about including this item in the state work plan.

May 2-6 Is Air Quality Awareness Week

Air Quality Awareness Week (May 2 – 6) explores the connections between exposure to pollutants and human health. The National Library of Medicine offers several resources on air quality. The NLM Enviro-Health Links pages on Indoor Air and Outdoor Air are information guides linking to sites that have been reviewed for appropriate and trustworthy material. They provide background information, connections to laws and regulations, and pre-formulated searches of relevant National Library of Medicine databases. Indoor Air covers mold, radon and flame retardants, as well as second-hand and third-hand smoke. Outdoor Air covers common particulate matter and common air pollutant chemicals.

Asthma and other airway diseases can sometimes be caused by workplace exposure to hazardous chemicals. NLM’s Haz-Map offers information related to Occupational Asthma which examines symptoms, findings, and the job tasks or chemical agents most associated with occupational asthma. NLM’s Environmental Health Student Portal contains Air Pollution information for middle school students and teachers. The portal has videos, classroom activities and links to age appropriate sites for further exploration. NLM’s Tox Town, the interactive web site on community environmental health concerns, has non-technical information on indoor air and on outdoor air.

AHRQ Issues New Comparative Effectiveness Review!

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare, Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently released its Comparative Effectiveness Review Improving Cultural Competence to Reduce Health Disparities for Priority Populations. This review examines existing system-, clinic-, provider-, and individual-level interventions to improve culturally appropriate health care for people with disabilities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations; and racial/ethnic minority populations.

The National Library of Medicine’s Outreach and Special Populations Branch (OSPB) works to reduce health disparities within underserved and special populations by improving access to accurate, quality health information. OSPB manages Minority Health Information Outreach projects for specific populations, such as American Indian Health Web Portal for Native Americans and HealthReach for refugee populations.

NLM Welcomes Applications to the Michael E. DeBakey Fellowship in the History of Medicine

Earlier this year, the National Library of Medicine announced its receipt of a generous gift from The DeBakey Medical Foundation to support enhanced access to the Michael E. DeBakey Archives at the NLM and to establish the Michael E. DeBakey Fellowship in the History of Medicine. NLM is now pleased to announce the first call for applications to the Michael E. DeBakey Fellowship in the History of Medicine.

Michael E. DeBakey (1908–2008) was a legendary American surgeon, educator, and medical statesman. During a career spanning 75 years, his work transformed cardiovascular surgery, raised medical education standards, and informed national health care policy. He pioneered dozens of operative procedures such as aneurysm repair, coronary bypass, and endarterectomy, which routinely save thousands of lives each year, and performed some of the first heart transplants. His inventions included the roller pump (a key component of heart-lung machines) as well as artificial hearts and ventricular assist pumps. He was a driving force in building Houston’s Baylor University College of Medicine into a premier medical center, where he trained several generations of top surgeons from all over the world.

The Michael E. DeBakey Fellowship in the History of Medicine will support individuals in pursuing research in NLM’s Michael E. DeBakey papers, related collections held by the NLM, and the vast range of subjects which informed, or were informed by, Michael E. DeBakey’s professional career – from surgery to health care policy, medical libraries and expanding access to medical information, medical technology to medical ethics, military medicine to veteran health, humanitarianism to international diplomacy in the medical arena. Applications are invited from anyone over the age of eighteen, of any academic discipline and status. Non-U.S. citizens may apply.

Fellowships of up to $10,000 will be awarded to individual applicants, not to institutions, to help offset the costs associated with visiting and using the NLM collections, but may not be used for institutional costs or overhead (e.g. clerical costs, supplies, or other attendant project expenses). To receive consideration, all materials must be submitted via the online system, by 5:00pm EDT, September 1, 2016. Awards will be announced by the end of the calendar year.

TOXMAP now includes 2014 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Data

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) TOXMAP resource now includes the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) 2014 National Analysis. TOXMAP maps the TRI chemicals reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). A complete list of EPA TRI chemicals required to be reported is also available.

Earth Day 2016 & NLM Environmental Health Resources

The health of the natural environment and human health are intrinsically linked, which is highlighted on April 22, Earth Day. The Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) offers a variety of resources to help Americans of all ages and backgrounds learn about the importance of environmental health:

  • Environmental Health for Children: Kids in grades 1-5 can learn about toxic substances in the home through the interactive ToxMystery. Middle schoolers can explore toxic substances in everyday environments through Tox Town, and they can learn about air pollution, chemicals, climate change, and water pollution through the Environmental Health Student Portal. Read about additional NLM resources for teachers and students that can be used for Earth Day Education.
  • Environmental Health for Indigenous Communities: Native American communities can find links to environmental health resources on American Indian Health. Information on the impacts of climate change on Arctic communities can be found at Arctic Health.
  • Environmental Hazards in Daily Life: Use the TOXNET collection of databases to explore the impact of toxic substances on your health. Check Haz-Map to learn about environmental hazards in the work environment, use LactMed to identify substances which nursing mothers should avoid, and use Household Products Database to learn about the health effects of common household chemicals.

Explore the Environmental Health and Toxicology homepage on the NLM website for more valuable environmental health resources.

Save the Date: 2016 Joseph Leiter NLM/MLA Lectureship on May 4!

The Annual NLM/MLA Joseph Leiter Memorial Lecture will be held this year on Wednesday, May 4, at 1:00pm ET (10:00am PDT) in the Lister Hill Auditorium at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, MD. The two-hour lecture was videocast and archived by NIH. In line with the traditional Leiter Lecture theme of fostering biomedical communication, this year’s lecturer is Jonna Mazet, DVM, MPVM, PhD, who will give the presentation Emerging Infectious Diseases in the 21st Century: A Prevention paradigm for surveillance, information sharing, & health diplomacy. Dr. Mazet is professor of epidemiology and disease ecology, and executive director of the One Health Institute, at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where she focuses on global health problem solving, especially for emerging infectious disease and conservation challenges. Currently, she is Principal Investigator for “PREDICT – Wildlife SMART Surveillance for Zoonotic Diseases of Pandemic Potential,” a part of US Agency for International Development. Her specialty is studying diseases that could jump from an animal host population to a human population, such as SARS and Ebola. She will talk about the project and how to disseminate information to relevant agencies and groups to help prevent or minimize pandemic disease from such sources.

National Environmental Education Week: April 17-23

The National Environmental Education Act of 1990 established the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation (NEEF) as an independent non-profit organization complementary to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), extending its ability to foster environmental education for all ages and in all segments of the American public. NEEF’s 12th annual National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), Greening STEM: Rooted in Math, is scheduled for April 17-23, 2016 (Earth Day is April 22). It encourages and celebrates environmental learning through events and projects across the country. You can also register an event.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program (TEHIP) provides resources related to toxicology, environmental health, and chemistry, most notably, TOXNET, an integrated database system of hazardous chemicals, toxic releases and environmental health. The Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB), a component of TOXNET, has comprehensive, peer-reviewed toxicology data for more than 5,000 chemicals. TOXMAP uses United States maps to explore data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and Superfund programs. The Haz-Map database contains information on the health effects of exposure to chemical and biological agents used in industry, on the job and at home.

Tox Town is a guide to toxic chemicals and environmental health issues in everyday locations. It is available in English and Spanish. The Household Products Database gives information on the potential health effects of chemicals contained in common products used inside and around the home. ToxMystery, available in English and Spanish, helps children ages 7 to 10 learn about toxic substances in the home. Tox Tutor and ToxLearn are written at the introductory college level and offer a basic introduction to toxicology.

National Public Health Week: April 4-10, 2016

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) salutes National Public Health Week, from April 4-10, 2016, an initiative of the American Public Health Association. NLM is working with PHPartners: Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce to promote their mission of helping the public health workforce find and use information effectively to improve and protect the public’s health.

The Outreach and Special Populations Branch of NLM provides a variety of reliable information resources to help improve public health information access, including:

For other health information resources directed towards specific populations, visit the NLM Outreach and Special Populations Branch homepage.