New research published this week in Health Affairs finds that a child born in the US has a 70% higher chance of dying before reaching adulthood than in other developed, democratic countries, estimating that “since 1961, America’s poor performance accounts for more than 600,000 excess child deaths — deaths that wouldn’t have happened if these kids were born into other wealthy countries.” Vox pulled out several key findings, including that adolescents ages 15-19 are 82 times more likely to die from gun homicide in the US than in peer countries.
A Washington Post article tracks female Metro customers’ experiences with sexual harassment, and quotes Kristen Jeffers, founder and editor in chief of the Black Urbanist blog, on how to make the system safer for customers and female transit workers, and consider the role of race and class. “Jeffers said women should feel more empowered to seek assistance from a bus driver, or sit in the first car of a train near the operator, when they feel threatened by a fellow passenger. They also should not hesitate to speak up on a crowded train, and seek the help of other passengers to take photos or videos of a person engaging in sexual harassment. Transit officials should find better ways to use surveillance video footage to identify people who are consistently intimidating women on buses or trains, she added. But, Jeffers pointed out, Metro passengers and administrators need to balance the need for asserting women’s safety while remaining aware that black and brown men on public transit are often targets of over-policing. ‘All of these suggestions are really tricky because they get into how we see each other and how we perceive gender, race and who has the right to public space and the right to look at us in public space,’ Jeffers said.”
Nearly 600 men answered the call to serve as father figures at a breakfast for middle school boys in Dallas, according to The Washington Post. The school, concerned that some boys would not have a man at their sides at the first Breakfast with Dads at Billy Earl Dade Middle School, put out a call for men in the community to serve as mentors. As it turned out, the hundreds of men who showed up easily outnumbered the 150 boys who had signed up for the event.
A Massachusetts woman shares her story about how her addiction to opioids drove her to try to end her life. Her story is part of WBUR’s look at the interplay between despair and substance misuse—and the importance of community connections, economic security, and a sense of purpose in addressing both.
A journalist who authored a book on the opioid epidemic, Sam Quinones, was the only person called as a witness at a recent senate health committee hearing to address the problem, Ike Swetlitz reported in STAT. Such hearings typically feature a parade of experts from the government and advocacy organizations. Among his comments: “The antidote to heroin is not naloxone, it is community.”
Meanwhile, writing in The Hill about curbing the opioid epidemic, addiction medicine doctor Daniel Schatz of NYU said, “Like so many other health issues, the answer likely lays upstream, that is in prevention of addictions in the first place.” He advocates for three focus areas: 1) ensuring funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP); 2) preventing and addressing trauma in early life, or Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs); and 3) improving collaboration to deal with complex psychosocial issues.
Native American tribes have joined the list of those suing opioid makers for downplaying the drugs’ addictive nature and for failing to do enough to help prevent prescription opioids from being sold on the streets, STAT reports. Hundreds of lawsuits filed by tribes, counties, and cities are pending. STAT also notes the Wall Street Journal reported that a judge overseeing the consolidation of a couple hundred of these suits is encouraging both sides to find a quick resolution and not belabor the process with briefs and trials.
In Vox, German Lopez examines a map that illustrates the lack of availability of medications to treat opioid addiction at treatment centers across the US. He suggests the gaps are due to stigma around treating opioid addiction with drugs, despite evidence of the effectiveness of this approach, and anemic federal investment in addressing the problem.
New York City and San Francisco – two cities with long-running Vision Zero programs – have reported significant drop (28% in NYC, 41% in SF) in traffic fatalities since launching Vision Zero in 2014.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program by 10 years would save the government $6 billion. CHIP funding, which was temporarily extended as part of a continuing resolution in December, may start running out in some states as soon as January 19, and the House and Senate have yet to determine a ‘pay-for’ for a five-year extension of the program. Nine million children rely on CHIP.
A new study aligning 25 years of health data with smoking ban implementation found that “bans appeared to be most effective at reducing smoking risk in people with higher levels of education. Among people with at least a bachelor's degree, smoking fell by about 20 percent if they lived in areas where a ban was introduced. The study also found that bans reduced the risk of becoming heavy smoker (smoking 10 or more cigarettes—half a pack—a day). People whose education level didn't reach a bachelor's degree didn't experience a reduction in smoking levels. However, the introduction of bans did increase the likelihood of trying to quit among lower income people. People in the lowest income bracket were about 15 percent more likely to try to quit if they lived in an area where a ban was introduced.” According to Berkeley Media Studies Group, the “unequal effects of the bans on smoking rates ‘highlight the need for a multi-pronged approach -- including tobacco taxes and ensuring that tobacco companies do not promote their products to vulnerable populations.’”