Health on the Ballot
On voters’ minds: “We can’t afford the health care that’s available.”
When U.S. voters go to the polls on November 8 to select their next president, a top concern for many will be health care and its ever-increasing costs. Against a backdrop of accelerating health care spending, increasing premiums and five years of slow economic growth, Gerard Anderson, a professor in Health Policy and Management, advises voters to learn about the nominees’ plans to slow the upward trend in spending in government programs like Medicare as well as in their own premiums and out-of- pocket spending. “Many people can’t afford the services they desperately need, whether it’s a drug or a social service for a parent,” Anderson observes. “Being able to pay for important services is becoming more and more significant.”
Welch At War
A new exhibit uncovers the Great War's impact on Hopkins.
Story by Jackie Powder • Photo courtesy Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives/JHMI
In 1917, William Henry Welch was immersed in his inaugural year as founding director of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. Then, in April, the U.S. entered World War I, and Welch left the School for the field. An inspector with the Army Medical Corps, he traveled to military training camps across the U.S., advising medical and lab staff on sanitary practices and disease containment. For Welch, the work was an invaluable opportunity to apply his science-based vision of public health in the real world. His experiences—along with those of other Johns Hopkins students, nurses and faculty—are documented in the cross-campus exhibit Hopkins and the Great War, which explores the conflict’s impact on the University and Hospital. The exhibit includes some materials online - see Hopkins And The Great War - and was curated by the History of Medicine department in the School of Medicine, the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives and Sheridan Libraries. An opening reception will be held on October 18 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the William H. Welch Medical Library Exhibit Gallery. Sponsored by Hopkins Retrospective, the online exhibit includes digitized versions of two of Welch's military camp inspection diaries. View the Welch Diaries.
Hard To Breathe
Battling the world's deadliest childhood disease.”
Story by Courtney McQueen • Photo by Scott Camazine/Science Source
Pneumonia’s toll on children worldwide remains staggeringly high—nearly 1 million deaths per year. Access to vaccines and quality health care remain significant issues, says Anita Shet, MD, PhD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Bloomberg School’s International Vaccine Access Center. “Vaccines are available in cities and bigger centers, but they don’t always reach the population that really needs them,” Shet says. A big focus is India, which has the most childhood pneumonia deaths. Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccination rates are still well below 70 percent and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) hasn’t been introduced. Shet and colleagues are advocating for greater access. They also are evaluating which pneumococcal serotypes are actually making kids sick in India so that changes can be tracked as vaccinations increase. There are more than 90 known pneumococcal serotypes, however most existing PCVs cover 60–75% of those serotypes that cause the more severe disease among children globally as well as in high-burden areas such as India. India isn’t the only country with a long way to go. This year’s World Pneumonia Day, November 12, will see many still trying to meet WHO’s vaccination and treatment goals. There has been progress. Pneumonia deaths among children have trended downward over the past decade. However, current efforts are “still not enough,” says Shet. “2,500 children die of pneumonia every day in the world—it’s not conscionable to say ‘that’s okay.’”
The Word on Wolfe Street
PA historic $300 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies will establish the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the School, a comprehensive effort to tackle urgent public health challenges in the U.S., The Baltimore Sun reported on September 15.
"We've been following 16,000 people since the late 80's. They've contributed invaluable data that will stick around forever."
The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, which has tracked the cardiovascular health of 16,000 volunteers for 30 years, has become a national “treasure” for research, Josef Coresh told NPR for a September 23 story on the slowing rate of decline in heart disease deaths.
With its “heavy on concern, but light on coordinated action” approach, the U.S. health care system—and its focus on disease over prevention—deserves blame for the failure to control American obesity, writes Bruce Y. Lee in TIME on September 23.
What Motivates Me
Renee M. Johnson
"Marijuana policy is rapidly changing, and there are strong opinions about how youth may be impacted. I study the epidemiology of adolescent marijuana use to better inform public policy discourse with methodologically rigorous scientific knowledge."
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
"Discovery of basic molecular principles with major relevance to public health. My colleagues, both mentors and mentees, motivate me. I am part of a winning team—long may it continue."
Seeking Resilient Health Systems
3 Questions for Sara Bennett, PhD
Interview by Courtney McQueen • Photography by Chris Hartlove
Making modern health systems more resilient and responsive is the focus of the November 14–18 Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, led by Sara Bennett, associate director of the Bloomberg School’s Health Systems Program and chair of the Health Systems Global Board.
What did we learn about health systems and resiliency from the Ebola crisis?
How contingent they are on political, economic and social factors. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, years of civil war led to an exodus of staff, underfunding and distrust between communities and government.
How can we improve resiliency and responsiveness?
Some important factors will likely include strong local capacity and leadership; trust with local communities; integration across disease programs; data for real time learning; and increased monitoring, surveillance and response.
Are there areas of health care that need to change more than others?
We are too focused on treating sick people rather than supporting necessary preventive strategies. This requires a major paradigm shift for the global health community.