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Archive for the ‘Health Policy’ Category

By: Samantha Metlitz

Period, menstruation, time of the month, crimson tide, whatever you call it, most of us know something about periods and fifty percent of the world’s population have firsthand experience with it. Women get it once a month for the majority of their lives, yet all around the world periods are a taboo subject. People become uncomfortable talking about periods and women feel the need to hide when they get theirs like it’s something embarrassing and shameful to have. While in high school, I would try to hide tampons and pads in pockets or sleeves or bring my whole backpack to the bathroom. I felt the need to hide the fact that I was on my period as if it was shameful in some way. In other countries, the stigma surrounding menstruation and menstrual hygiene causes bigger issues. In some places, women are isolated during their periods or are forced to leave schools because of lack of proper sanitation and access to sanitary products. According to a World Bank blog post, girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss 20% of a school year because of menstruation (Lusk-Stover, 2016). Lack of access to proper menstrual hygiene products, water, and sanitation is a major issue for women. A study on this issue found that menstrual hygiene in refugee camps was not being properly addressed because the emergency response workers were uncomfortably about the subject, causing them not to properly address the issue (Schmitt et al., 2017). Menstrual hygiene and menstruation need to become normalized so that they’re no longer taboo.

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By: Julian Libin

Back in 2013 there was a motion in the Australia High Court on whether isolated parts of the human gene sequence were patentable. In 2014 the motion went through as ruling that they were. The implications of this allow snippets of the unmodified human genome to be priced and traded through a myriad of private entities such as different hedge funds, insurance, or sovereign wealth funds. There has been significant backlash regarding this new law, both before and after it was passed. Many voices exclaim the dangers that come along with patenting genetic code. It can slow or even prevent important research concerning anything related to the human body and its inputs or outputs. One real life example would be the patenting of BRCA1, a gene which if mutated is associated with inherited ovarian and breast cancer. Cancer Voices Australia was outraged, but their cries went unheard. This is now an area of cancer research with sticky red tape.

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By: Pei-Hsuan Li

Kari Whitehead started to gradually notice something different about her daughter, Emily. Not long after seeing purple bruises on her legs, bleeding gums, bloody noses, and severe leg pains, Emily was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) on May 28, 2010 when she was only five years old.

Emily received the standard treatment for ALL but relapsed after 16 months. Fortunately for the Whitehead’s, news appeared of a new and innovative drug called Kymriah. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the opening of the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell trial early. Emily became Patient 1 of the Phase 1 trial. Now she is 12 years old, and she has remained in complete remission since her seventh birthday. Last year, oFollowing Kymriah, on October 18, 2017, Yescarta, a treatment for adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma developed by Kite Pharma, was approved as the second FDA-approved gene therapy. Price listed: $373,000.

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By: Madison Lee

We have now entered year two of the Trump Administration and we continue to see where the President’s values and priorities lie. On February 12, 2018 President Trump’s White House released their second budget proposal, this time for the 2019 fiscal year 6. As seen in the 2018 budget proposal, the President continues to strive for greater defense and border control spending while slashing the budgets of U.S. foreign aid programs 6. It is very clear from the proposed budget that the President is unconcerned about the programs and organizations that rely on US money to continue their work in some of the most undeveloped and under-resourced places in the world. HIV/AIDS is an area of work that would be highly affected by the proposed cuts and over 40 organizations, including Partners in Health and the ONE Campaign, have spoken out about the negative effects the cuts would have 1,4.

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By: Emily Kirwin

The first time I heard about the rising maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the United States, was after Serena Williams’ birth, and this story about a family struggling to cope after a new mother died after childbirth:

While it is no surprise to learn that black women are 3 to 4 times as likely as white women to die during childbirth, it was shocking to me to learning that 700 U.S. women do not survive to the next day with their newborn (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). In 2000, the United Nations signed a document declaring to improve maternal health worldwide by the year 2015 (World Health Organization, 2018). Since then, many countries – both lower income and higher income – have decreased their MMR drastically. However, the United States has observed an increase of maternal deaths from 23 in 2005 to about 28 maternal deaths per 100,000 births (Tavernise, 2016). A majority these deaths were preventable (Martin & Montagne, 2017).

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By: Brittany Foushee

Race in the United States has always been a hot topic of its time. From policy reform, to shifts in social attitudes, race and racism have been a systemic issue in this country. Historically, one may say that America has yet to get it right when it comes to social equity and equality amongst races in this country. However, when looking at the differences between this country’s history and the present day, others may say America is not too shabby in race equality. In 2011 Pew Research Center surveyed a population of Americans to answer the question “how big a problem is racism in our society today? Is it a big problem, a small problem, or not a problem at all?”. Results showed that 8% of Americans believe race is not a problem at allFOOTNOTE: Footnote. Comparing this percentage to another theory, when asked in a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in 2013, 14% of Americans believe Big Foot existsFOOTNOTE: Footnote. Americans are nearly twice as likely to believe in a mythological creature than to believe race is a problem in this country. Seeing the denial of racism in America, we can begin to see how race can play a major factor in policy and health outcomes. In a study conducted in 2008 by Gallup surveying Black and White Americans on their perception of life expectancy for Black Americans, 33% of white Americans said race is not at all a factor in life expectancy for Black Americans, while only 13% of Black Americans stated the sameFOOTNOTE: Footnote. When comparing widespread beliefs and misconceptions regarding race and health in America, as well as analyzing data and statistics regarding disease and health disparities amongst racial groups, we can begin to see the issue at hand is systemic and requires more than a simple quick fix to compensate for.

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By: Morgan Duffney

Today, when we watch cable news and see the banner ‘Crisis in Pakistan’ shoot across the television screen, a few thoughts and fears come to mind: terrorism, political instability, and loosely controlled nuclear weapons. What no one ever thinks about is the public health disaster currently looming over the country, which is already in a fragile state. What never appears on a breaking news banner on Fox News or CNN, but does appear on the front pages of Pakistan Today is that in Pakistan, an estimated . The inability to treat contaminated water, supply its citizens with this basic necessity to live, and stem the tide of human suffering is not only a problem faced by the Pakistani government, but is currently a global public health crisis.

Pakistan is just one country out of the many throughout the world currently struggling to relieve the suffering of their people and resolve this public health emergency. To put this crisis into a global perspective, as of 2014, the United Nations estimated that 2.5 billion people receive their drinking water from sources without improved sanitation, with roughly two million tons of sewage and other pollutants entering the world’s water system each day. Without an adequate response and action on the part of public health organizations throughout the world, the future looks quite bleak; as the World Health Organization (WHO) now predicts that by 2025 half of the world’s population will live in “water-stressed areas” (2017).

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