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Public Health

Arizona’s Health Department Adds Chief Heat Officer

Following the hottest year on record, complete with a megadrought in Arizona that led to construction restrictions to reserve groundwater around Phoenix, Arizona has added a new chief heat officer to its Department of Health Services. The officer’s role is to help with extreme heat preparedness in the state. Dr. Eugene Livar, a physician who was formerly the assistant director for public health preparedness for the Department of Health Services, has been chosen for the role. Dr. Livar had helped in developing the Arizona heat preparedness plan in his former role, The Associated Press reported.

Baltimore’s ‘Downward Spiral’ Of Poverty, Disinvestment, And Policing

The crisis of mass incarceration is about more than the conduct of police officers—it’s a question of public expenditures, and how pouring taxpayer money into incarceration at the expense of other, more humanizing ventures takes a toll on society at large. As public schools and public health programs across the nation grapple with a host of preventable problems arising from underinvestment, state and local governments across the nation spend over $200 billion each year on prisons, jails, and police. Now, a new report from the Justice Policy Institute, “The Right Investment 2.0”, takes a detailed look at the “downward spiral” low-income, predominately Black and Brown communities across Maryland are forced into by this imbalance in public expenditures.

An Environmental Activist’s Guide To The Great Barrington Declaration

The Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) is standard issue libertarian free market ideology sanded down to fit the confines of public health – this document (coauthored by three highly credentialed academics: Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, Martin Kulldorff of Harvard, and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford) recommended that governments do nothing to combat a once in a century pandemic destined globally to obliterate as many as 27 million lives. The fever dream enshrined in every libertarian narrative holds that “self regulating forces” exhibit a mystical benevolence only realized when governments retreat, and defer to the “natural order.”

Treat Climate And Biodiversity Crises As One Global Health Emergency

A new editorial published in more than 200 health journals challenges health professionals and world leaders to look at global biodiversity loss and climate change as “one indivisible crisis” that must be confronted as a whole. The authors of the editorial call separating the two emergencies a “dangerous mistake,” and encourage the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency, a press release from The BMJ said. “The climate crisis and loss of biodiversity both damage human health, and they are interlinked. That’s why we must consider them together and declare a global health emergency.

Healthcare Activists Demand: Restore Covid-19 Protections Now!

Boston, Massachusetts - The Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity (Mass. CHE) held an online press conference on April 5 to demand the state keep protections against COVID-19 in place to safeguard health care workers, people with disabilities and the general population during the continuing pandemic. The conference was a response to Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healy’s decision to comply with the Biden administration’s decision to terminate the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11. Ending the PHE, which was initially declared by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in January 2020, will allow bosses at medical facilities in the U.S. privatized health care system to strip millions of health care workers and patients of safety measures, including masking, social distancing and surveillance testing.

15 Million In The US To Be Kicked Off Of Public Health Benefits

As US-based news is inundated with coverage surrounding the spectacle of former president Donald Trump’s arraignment, 15 million people are being quietly phased out of receiving Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) benefits, beginning April 1 and going through May and July. As the Joe Biden administration will end the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration on May 11, starting this past weekend states have already begun to kick people off of Medicaid and CHIP. These states are all Republican Party-controlled: Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire, and South Dakota.

Biden Hands The Covid Response To The Private Market, Endangering Us All

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Joe Biden took care to portray the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as a trial that is behind us and a victory for the people. ​“Today, Covid no longer controls our lives,” Biden said, adding that ​“while the virus is not gone, thanks to the resilience of the American people … we have broken Covid’s grip on us … And soon we’ll end the public health emergency.” This rosy depiction belies reality. Even by the official count, hundreds of people in the United States are dying of Covid-19 daily. In recent months, more than half of all Covid deaths have been among people who are fully vaccinated.

Hundreds Of Thousands Rally Across Spain Against Attack On Public Health

Spain - On Sunday, February 12, massive mobilizations took place in several cities across Spain, organized by health workers, trade unions, and left-wing groups. The protesters demanded an improvement in public health services, which are currently suffering from a lack of resources and understaffing. Protesters at a major mobilization in Madrid, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, condemned the apathy of the regional government led by the conservative People’s Party (PP) towards the needs of the public health sector. They also protested bids to privatize health care. The march in Madrid was organized by several organizations, including the Federation of Associations in Defense of Public Health (FADSP), and was backed by political groups including Communist Party of Spain (PCE), Podemos, the Communist Party of the Workers of Spain (PCTE), and others.

Senate Votes To Overturn Covid-19 National Emergency

Just a week after the midterm elections, the Senate voted to end the National Emergency Declaration on Covid-19. This vote, in which Democrats joined Republicans 62-36, comes after the U.S. handled the Covid-19 pandemic in impressively pitiful fashion, with over 1 million dead and millions more grappling with long Covid-19 symptoms. It also comes as winter months approach and respiratory illnesses are on the rise, particularly among children as pediatric intensive care units reach capacity. Ending the National Covid-19 Emergency declaration could affect anything from the access to medical supplies to helping cover costs of Covid-19 testing. Its end could also help pave the way to restart student loan payments. Ironically, the vote comes with the help of the Democrats, members of the same party who claimed just a week earlier that they needed the public’s support at the ballot box so they that could keep protecting the public interest, from Covid-19 policies to protecting abortion rights.

US Ranks Last Among Peer Nations For COVID-19 Mortality

American citizens pride themselves for living in a country that most of them believe is superlative — freest, most powerful, most entrepreneurial. Yet despite the spheres where it has high standing, the United States ranks dismally among its peer nations when it comes to deaths from COVID-19. “Dismal” might not be a strong enough adjective, actually: the U.S. ranked dead last among its peer nations, with the most deaths per capita. The data comes from a new study published in the medical journal JAMA, which also analyzed state-by-state vaccination and public health data. Alarmingly, researchers noted that if every state in the United States had the same vaccination rates as those states with the highest vaccination rates, more than 100,000 lives would have been saved.

The Attack On Nature Is Putting Humanity At Risk

In the last week of October, João Pedro Stedile, a leader of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) in Brazil and the global peasants’ organisation La Via Campesina, went to the Vatican to attend the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace, organised by the Community of Sant’Egídio. On 30 October, Brazil held a presidential election, which was won by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, affectionately known as Lula. A key part of his campaign addressed the reckless endangerment and destruction of the Amazon by his opponent, the incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro. Lula’s victory, helped along by vigorous campaigning by the MST, provides hope for our chance to save the planet. This week’s newsletter contains the speech that Stedile gave at the Vatican. We hope you find it as useful as we do.

How The World Bank Weakens Health Systems

Natalie Rhodes, PhD candidate at University of Leeds, and People’s Health Movement, along with Remco van de Pas, researcher at the Centre for Planetary Health Policy, and People’s Health Movement discuss in detail about the implications of the newly established World Bank fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response and the Bank’s other policies pertaining to public health.

China And The US Response To Covid-19

In May and June of 2022 two milestones were passed in the world’s battle with Covid and were widely noted in the press, one in the US and one in China.  They invite a comparison between the two countries and their approach to combatting Covid-19. The first milestone was passed on May 12 when  the United States registered over 1 million total deaths (1,008,377 as of June 19, 2022, when this is written) due to Covid, the highest of any country in the world.  Web MD expressed its sentiment in a piece headlined: “US Covid Deaths Hit 1 Million: ‘History Should Judge Us.’” Second, on June 1, China emerged from its 60-day lockdown in Shanghai in response to an outbreak there, the most serious since the Wuhan outbreak at the onset of the pandemic. 

In A World Of Great Disorder And Extravagant Lies

These are deeply upsetting times. The COVID-19 global pandemic had the potential to bring people together, to strengthen global institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO), and to galvanize new faith in public action. Our vast social wealth could have been pledged to improve public health systems, including both the surveillance of outbreaks of illness and the development of medical systems to treat people during these outbreaks. Not so. Studies by the WHO have shown us that health care spending by governments in poorer nations has been relatively flat during the pandemic, while out-of-pocket private expenditure on health care continues to rise.

What The US Can Learn From Cuba’s Coronavirus Response

International comparisons to U.S. health outcomes make clear that GDP (Gross Domestic Product) cannot reliably suggest a healthcare system’s quality. Defined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as “a monetary measure of the value of final goods and services,” GDP tells us nothing about the efficiency of health services or the accessibility of critical medical care such as vaccination, hospitalization and basic health exams – all important determinants of a healthcare system’s adaptability when emergencies put pressure on our health infrastructure. This is particularly true in the case of Cuba.
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