Maternal and Child Health
Section Newsletter
Spring 2010

MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR

Having recently returned from an international meeting of a committee of the World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in England, I am acutely aware of how important leadership of women and girls is to international development, health and peace. It steps up my commitment to make sure that we are supporting women as leaders in the public and private sectors and grooming and electing women at every level of government and for global service.

This is also one of the conclusions of authors, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide", which was on my summer reading list. The authors make a compelling case for women’s issues as the next frontier in international health and development. They describe programs that work in empowering and healing women suffering from human trafficking, rape and abuse, bride burnings, unwanted pregnancies, and fistula and other complications of childbirth. Maternal mortality is presented as a human rights violation.

It is this perspective that I believe has influenced these newsworthy recent developments:

·         the publication of "Deadly Delivery: the Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA" by Amnesty International, which cites many MCH members and their research.  Also go to www.amnestyusa.org to check out Amnesty’s Demand Dignity Campaign, to end the human rights abuses that are both cause and consequence of poverty. (See article on the report below.)

 

·         the announcement that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $1.5 billion in a joint push with the United Nations to improve the health of women and children, while launching a lobbying effort to get governments and other non-profit groups on board.  According to a Reuters report, Bill Gates and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon described a comprehensive approach through 2014 to help women deliver babies safely and plan healthy families. The program includes access to contraception and incorporates current vaccination and nutrition programs.  "The women and children are always last in line for health issues," Ban said. "It's just morally unacceptable ... This is a real human rights issue."  For more information, go to http://www.gatesfoundation.org/foundationnotes.

What are you doing in this arena? Is this something we should be talking about at this year’s MCH town meeting? Let me know your thoughts.

All the best,

JoAnne

JoAnne Fischer

Chair, MCH Section

APHA

jfischer@momobile.org

 

 

NEXT NEWSLETTER DEADLINE

NEXT NEWSLETTER DEADLINE

 

MONDAY, AUGUST 30, 2010

 

This will be the last newsletter before the Annual Meeting in November, so please send information about sessions, meetings, and issues you want the membership to know about before arriving in Denver. We also welcome news about your research, conferences, classes, new children and grandchildren, old friends, new books, and anything else you want to share with your friends in the Section.  Send plain text articles, 4-6 paragraphs in length to mchnewsletter@gmail.com.  Photos in jpeg format are also welcome.  

MCH NEWS OF NOTE

 

·         MCH Section Thanks Policy Reviewers:  The MCH Section wishes to acknowledge Section members Grace B. Sullivan, Elizabeth Jensen, Natalie Mikat-Stevens, Melissa Romaire, Marissa Rouselle, Adriane Casalotti, and Debra Besser-Jackson and thank them for contributing their time and expertise to completing the Section review of APHA policies that were designated for archiving in 2010. Many thanks for your good work!

 

·         Wisner Speaks at ACOG Meeting:  Section member Katherine L. Wisner, MD, MS, was a featured speaker at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecololgy meeting on May 17, 2010.  President Gerald F. Joseph, MD, selected perinatal depression as his Presidential initiative. Dr. Wisner's lecture focused on treatment options for depression during pregnancy, with an overview of antidepressant treatment.  An interview with Dr. Wisner has been posted on the ACOG website and the ACOG YouTube Channel at: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=ACOGNews#p/u/1/XvJZYOaAgD0.

 

·         In Memoriam:  Dr. Stanley Greenspan, Founding President of Zero to Three:  Stanley I. Greenspan, a child psychiatrist who was a pioneer in the field of early childhood development, died on April 27 in Bethesda, Md.  Dr. Greenspan developed “floor time,” now a widespread method for teaching children with autism and other developmental disorders. Suffering himself from learning disabilities, he said, “People have an enormous capacity to use their strengths to compensate for any areas of vulnerability.” 

 

·         Hypothyroidism on the increase, says CDC: The rate of primary congenital hypothyroidism (CH), a common but preventable cause of intellectual disability, has almost doubled in the United States during the past two decades to approximately one in 2,000 births.  To gain a comprehensive understanding of the potential causes for the rate increase, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration co-sponsored a meeting in 2008 on Prevalence of Congenital Hypothyroidism — Current Trends and Future Directions. A supplement to the May 2010 issue of the journal Pediatrics contains details about the meeting and can be read at http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/bd/future.htm.

 

·         New book about the CDC:  "Inside the Outbreaks" by Mark Pendergrast is a history of the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the CDC. Among other topics, the book covers the work of Section member Linda Bartlett, investigating high maternal mortality in Afghanistan. For more information or to purchase the book, go to Amazon.

 

·         Rifampin-dependent TB Identified in China:  The Spring Issue of the Johns Hopkins Magazine reports that researchers at the Bloomberg School of Public Health have identified a strain of tuberculosis that grows better when exposed to rifampin, one of the major drugs used to combat the disease. The study by lead author Ying Zhang, professor of molecular microbiology at the School, appeared in January in The International Journal of

 Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

 

·         Council of Europe Criticizes WHO Swine Flu Efforts:  The AP reported in June that a new publication by the Council of Europe claims that the World Health Organization, the UN health agency, and European governments greatly exaggerated the public health risks of swine flu while making decisions behind the scenes that enriched pharmaceutical producers, leading to a “waste of large sums of public money and unjustified scares and fears about the health risks faced by the European public.”  WHO has responded that it is irresponsible to claim that the swine flu pandemic was created for the benefit of the pharmaceutical companies.

LET'S CONNECT! MCH SECTION LAUNCHES NEW COMMUNICATIONS TOOLS

As part of our efforts to strengthen Section communications, the Maternal and Child Health Section of APHA launched the MCH Section Community in March. Sponosred by St. Luke's Health Initiatives. this e-communications tool enables our Section to:

  • provide timely communication on emergent MCH issues.
  • discuss hot topics through interactive groups.
  • share news about our Section and other MCH-related events.
  • post and explore job opportunities.
  • allow for individual communication with MCH Section members via a secure platform.
  • add information or document to a virtual MCH Section library.
  • post draft documents for review and comment by MCH Section members.

Since launching the MCH Section Community, participants have posted job announcement in areas of evaluation and academia, and recent MPH graduates have shared their resumes with potential employers. Discussions on the importance of health care reform have been initiated, and the call for Section award nominations has been posted.  Also, members have shared information regarding MCH-related webinars. The Section plans to enhance these features as more members register. Also, the Section plans to use the Site as one of the primary vehicles for communicating information about the Annual Meeting and MCH Section sessions to its members. We invite each and every one of our Section members to register for and begin participating in this community. Instructions for registration and participation are posted below.

The Section has also made use of Facebook. In addition to our APHA Maternal and Child Health Section group, we have created a Facebook Page, accessible through the following link:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/APHA-Maternal-Child-Health-Section/118213198215627.  [Note:  Please make sure you are logged into Facebook before clicking the link above.  Otherwise, you will be asked to log in, and you will have to come back to the link.]  This page has several advantages for Facebook users.  By indicating that they "Like" this page, users may receive updates on Section activities in their News Feed. Additionally, users may initiate discussions, post photos, and communicate with all those who also "Like" the Section's page.

Instructions on How to Join the MCH Section Community

To register and become a member of the MCH Section Community, please follow these instructions:

  1. Go to www.slhinet.org
  2. Click on the “Register Now” link in the upper right-hand corner (blue-green box area), agree to the terms of use, and complete your individual profile.  This process includes the creation of your password.
  3. After creating your profile and password and continuing to the next screen, DO NOT close (or exit out of) the window in which you are working.  Open a new window (or tab if your system allows) to check your email for confirmation.
  4. The confirmation e-mail will be sent to you within 5 to 10 minutes. Upon receipt, click on the link provided in the confirmation e-mail.  By clicking this link, another window will open.  This confirms you are logged into the system, and that the connection with SLHInet (the e-system provider) works.  Note: If the link does not work, try copying the link and pasting it in the address box of a new window or tab.
  5. You can close this most recent window and go back to the login screen from steps 1 – 3.
  6. Sign-in from this screen using the email address and password you entered in step 2.
  7. Click on My Communities in the blue-green box in the upper right-hand corner.
  8. Using the Search Bar on the right side of the screen, enter APHA MCH Section and hit enter.  Click APHA MCH Section (it should be the only community in the list that appears on the next screen).
  9. This brings you to the Welcome page for the APHA MCH Section.  Click Join Now under Participants on the right side of the screen to become a member of the community.
  10. Select the e-mail address to which you would like the Section to send messages and also select your preference for receiving these messages.  Also choice your visibility and Click Save.
  11. You are now free to browse the MCH Section Community page… Explore! Share! Network! Communicate!

Please note: You will automatically become a member of the Everyone Community, so it is essential for you to click on the My Communities link located in the blue-green box in the upper right-hand corner after you sign in to the site. From here, you can select the APHA MCH Section by clicking on the APHA MCH Section on the left of the screen.

 

For technical assistance, please contact MCH Student Fellow Melissa Mercado-Crespo at mmercad1@health.usf.edu. If you have recommendations about how to make best use of this new tool, please contact MCH Section Communications Chair Katie Baker at baker.marykate@gmail.com.

 

 

 

MCH SECTION INNOVATIONS IN MATERNITY HEALTH SERVICES COMMITTEE NEWS, SPRING 2010

The Innovations in Maternity Health Service Committee will focus on the continuing problems with access to maternity services at this year's APHA Annual Meeting in Denver in November.  The Committee will use their planned sessions as well as their business meeting to advocate for better national and state policies to improve maternity services for all women. The committee has three planned sessions dealing with social justice and birth issues, and the business sessions will be used to organize the planned advocacy effort.

 

The APHA Annual Meeting is a great backdrop for this policy discussion and advocacy planning. Not only does the meeting bring public health personnel together to learn and to share, but it is also a great place for individuals to recharge to meet their goals.

 

The three sessions sponsored by the committee this year in Denver include:

·         # 3408.0 Monday, Nov. 8, 2010: 4:30-6:00 p.m.:  Social Justice at the Time of Birth: Improving Access and Quality of Maternity Services

·         # 4329.0 Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010 4:30-5:30 p.m.: MCH Poster Session II

·         # 5118.0 Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010 10:30-12:00 p.m.: Strengthening Maternal and Child Health Services: a Starting Point for Social Justice

 

After more than a year of debate about health care reform, the number and magnitude of problems have been well discussed.  Will the new Health Care Reform bill fix the problems we see in maternity care provision?  This year the Maternal and Child Health Section and the Innovations Committee will be discussing these issues. 

 

The Committee meeting on Tuesday will be a breakfast meeting, time and place to be announced at our Monday session. The planning for the advocacy program will be the main agenda of that meeting. We are looking for increased participation and new members. The mission of the Innovations in Maternity Health Services Committee is to raise the hard questions in childbirth -- in the past, these have included topics such as:  

·         Why do maternity care providers do what they do?  

·         Are all the hospital based maternal procedures necessary? 

·         Is such care mother and child friendly? 

·         Does it help have better outcomes? 

 

The continued growth of technology has caused loss of control by childbearing families of their birth options, and our Committee focuses on alternatives to traditional obstetrics, including midwives, birth centers, and home birth. The present crisis in malpractice is forcing us to look at the even bigger picture:  WHO IS GOING TO CATCH THE BABIES?  There is a need to establish a national conversation on this vital issue. At this time, the Committee feels that the underlying structure of maternal health care should be evaluated as part of the discussion of access to maternity care.

 

Looking forward to seeing you in Denver!

 

Barb Levin (BarbL11@aol.com)    

Carol Nelson (cpmcnel@usit.net)

STUDENT LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS' EVALUATION SHOWS POSITIVE RESULTS

In 2009, the Student Leadership Committee launched a formal evaluation of the two MCH Section student programs, the Student Fellows and the Student Authors Program. This evaluation is intended to assess student satisfaction with participation in the programs, gauge whether participation has led to further involvement in APHA and the MCH Section, and gather information to continually enhance the programs, which are designed to foster the development of leaders in science, policy, program, and practice related to the health of women, children, and their families. 

 

Each year the Section selects approximately 10 Fellows to participate in the year-long Student Fellows Program to provide a unique opportunity to become engaged in the work of the Section, meet leaders in the MCH field, build a network of MCH colleagues, participate in leadership development, and have an opportunity to make a contribution to the field of maternal and child health through the work of the Section.  The Student Authors Program, comprised of students who present during the Greg Alexander Outstanding Student Papers Session, promotes academic contributions and achievement in MCH among graduate students by providing an opportunity for them to present their research and be recognized for outstanding scholarship.

The evaluation is being implemented in phases. In 2009-2010, we conducted an initial evaluation of the experiences of the Student Fellows in the year-long fellowship and of the Student Authors experiences at the APHA Annual Conference.  Below is a brief summary of the evaluation results:

 

 A.  Student Fellows Program

 

“The MCH fellows program has allowed me to have an insider's perspective on how a section is run. From sitting in on executive committee meetings, to being on conference calls with senior leadership, the fellowship has left an indelible mark on my professional MCH career and I'm thankful for the opportunity.”

 

“The fellows program has served as a springboard to becoming more involved in the Section leadership and to make contacts in the field.”

 

  • Ninety percent of Student Fellows either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the fellowship helped to make important contacts in the field of MCH. 
  • One hundred percent of Student Fellows either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the fellowship has given them a better understanding of the MCH Section.
  • Sixty percent of Student Fellows “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they received good mentoring in the program
  • All Student Fellows “agreed” or “strongly agreed”  that they plan to be active in the MCH Section in the future.
  • Ninety percent of Student Fellows “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they  will seek leadership positions in the MCH section in the future.
  • Eighty percent of Student Fellows “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they were satisfied with the MCH Fellows program.

B.  Student Authors Program

Findings from the Student Authors experiences at the APHA Annual Meeting showed that:

 

  • Seventy-five percent of Student Authors were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their experience at the meeting.
  • Seventy-five percent of Student Authors noted that their participation as a presenter helped them to make professional contact.s
  • Seventy-five percent of Student Authors indicated that participation as a Student Author has made them more likely to submit future abstracts to APHA or other conferences.

The Student Leadership Committee will continue to implement additional phases of the evaluation and to continually review results in order to improve programs. For additional information about the Student Leadership Programs or the evaluation, please contact Lauren Raskin Ramos, Secretary-Elect, at lramos@amchp.org.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT ON MATERNAL HEALTH IN THE UNITED STATES

In March 2010, Amnesty International released a report on maternal health care in the United States. The report, Deadly Delivery: the Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA, can be downloaded at http://www.amnestyusa.org/dignity/pdf/DeadlyDelivery.pdf.   

A summary is also available at http://www.amnestyusa.org/dignity/pdf/DeadlyDeliverySummary.pdf.

 

The report analyzes the barriers to health care that result in our country's troubling maternal mortality and morbidity statistics. Among other issues, the report examines:

·         discrimination.

·         financial, bureaucratic and language barriers to accessing care.

·         information about maternal care options.

·         participation in care decisions.

·         staffing and quality questions.

·         accountability and oversight.

 

Two years of analysis, including more than 100 interviews, went into the preparation of the report. Amnesty hopes it proves to be a valuable tool for those who work in maternal and child health and health care disparities.

 

Going forward, Amnesty International's recommendations to improve maternal health will include:

·         calling for federal accountability on the issue of improving maternal health via an Office of Maternal Health within the Department of Health and Human Services.

·         increasing support for community health centers.

·         establishing state maternal mortality review boards.

·         implementing presumptive eligibility for Medicaid in all states.

 

This report was a collaborative effort, and Amnesty International is grateful for the time and effort that so many experts, advocates, health care providers (including several Section members) and service providers shared with them over the last two years. They extend their heartfelt appreciation and thanks to all who graciously allowed interviews and contributed to their work.

CELEBRATING TITLE V AT 75

2010 marks the 75th anniversary of Title V of the Social Security Act, the only national program that focuses solely on improving the health of all mothers and children.

 

The Maternal and Child Health Bureau will host a commemorative event on Oct. 20, 2010 in Washington, DC., highlighting the past, present and future of the program and the field. While 2,000 people will be invited to this event, related local and state events are being planned nationwide to promote broad engagement of MCH leaders and enthusiasts and to heighten public awareness of this foundational legislation and program. Local events may involve special briefings, symposia, special service activities, and the like. Social media will figure prominently in this Title V celebration, including a YouTube contest, a presence on Facebook, and blogging. Media and materials will be available to those who wish to host local activities.

 

For more information, check our website:  http://www.hrsa.gov/mchb75

 

Stay tuned!

NEW BRIGHT FUTURES TRAINING AND IMPLEMENTATION MATERIALS NOW AVAILABLE

Visit the Bright Futures website to access a 3-volume set of materials that will facilitate implementation of Bright Futures in the office setting using quality improvement strategies. This comprehensive resource is available for download. You can check the 3-volume set online and download only desired tools, or download the entire set of materials.

 

The Bright Futures training and implementation materials were funded by The Commonwealth Fund with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Project staff members from the AAP and the Center for Health Care Quality at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (formerly Center for Children's Healthcare Improvement at the University of North Carolina) were involved in months of continual writing, rewriting and field testing of the 3-volume set. A brief description of each volume is provided below.

 

Volume 1: Improving Preventive Care in Your Office-Tools for Office

Improvement: http://www.brightfutures.aap.org/clinical/volume1.html

 

This volume is designed to guide physician offices and other clinical teams through the development and implementation of Bright Futures to enhance the preventive care for infants, children and adolescents. These tools can be adapted by clinical sites for the age of the child, the patient population, and the local community.

Examples of tools you can access include:

 

·          Tips for developing a preventive services prompting system

·          Strategies for designing a recall and reminder system

·          An overview of screening tools

·          Community resources checklist

 

Volume 2:  Working with Practices to Improve Preventive Care-A Leader's Guide:  http://www.brightfutures.aap.org/clinical/volume2.html

 

The Leader's Guide was developed specifically for use in implementing the Bright Futures Training Intervention (BFTI). It was adapted from the Breakthrough Series Collaborative Manual developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality. This step-by-step guide is written for the individual who has primary responsibility for overseeing the actual implementation of the BFTI project (see below for more background), known here as the project "leader". Although the primary audience is the leader, other project staff, if applicable, also will find this guide useful in the planning and implementation of the BFTI. This guide is to be used in conjunction with Volume 1; both were designed and pilot tested by the AAP with 15 diverse practice teams from nine states.

 

Volume 3: Training Materials to Improve Preventive Care in Office Practice - Bright Futures Workshop Materials: http://www.brightfutures.aap.org/clinical/volume3.html

 

This volume contains the workshop curriculum binder contents, slide presentations, and worksheets from the two 1-day workshops held during the pilot project of the BFTI, which focused on delivery of screening and preventive services for children under age 5.

 

Background Information

 

These materials represent an outgrowth from the year-long pilot project “Bright Futures Training Intervention With Office Staff” funded by The Commonwealth Fund. The pilot project tested a framework that included six office system components:

 

1) Using a preventive services prompting system

2) Using structures screening to assess developmental and behavioral needs

3) Evaluating parental strengths and needs

4) Using recall and reminder systems

5) Linking to community resources

6) Identifying children with special health care needs. 

 

The BFTI represents a unique "office systems" approach to improving the delivery of developmental screening and preventive services for children under age 5. This collaborative learning intervention involves engaging multidisciplinary office teams from primary care practices over a period of approximately one year.  The goal is to implement, in each office setting, six of the key components and strategies listed above that embody the Bright Futures philosophy. Lessons learned from the BFTI project has served as the foundation for the new EQIPP module entitled "Educating Quality Improvement in Pediatric Practices" coming in summer 2010.

 

For more information, access the journal article outlining the findings of the Bright Futures Training Intervention with office staff and view a multimedia presentation of the project findings at http://www.brightfutures.aap.org/clinical/training_and_implementation_materials.html.

FOUNDER'S VISION LIVES ON

Amy Polk, the founding member and visionary of the non-profit Seasons of Life Women’s Health and Birth Center slated to open in Takoma Park, Md., in 2014, was tragically killed in a pedestrian accident on April 29, 2010 ( http://tinyurl.com/amypolk ). Amy leaves behind a wave of energy and many powerful memories of the ways in which she touched her community. Her husband, John Robinette and two sons, Adam, 7, and Bryan, 4, as well as many loving friends, extended family, and community members will miss her presence dearly.

 

The Seasons of Life Board of Directors is committed to making what has become our shared vision a reality. 

 

“Amy was a beautiful wife and mother. She meant so many things to so many people, but the best way to remember and honor her life is to support her vision of a birth center,” said John.

 

Seasons of Life Women's Health and Birth Center will provide individualized, family-oriented care in a home-like setting to women throughout the life span: from onset of menstruation, through the childbearing years, to menopause and beyond.  Following the Midwives Model of Care, this will include:

·         Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the woman throughout the childbearing cycle.

·         Providing the woman with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support.

·         Minimizing technological interventions.

·         Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention.

 

The Center will be a non-profit organization, and any benefits gained by Seasons of Life will be reinvested in patient care, community education, and other public service activities.  For more information or to support this vision, please visit www.seasonsoflifebirthcenter.org.

 

Donations in Amy's honor can be made via the website http://www.seasonsoflifebirthcenter.org/Donate.html  

Or send a check payable to "Seasons of Life" to:

 

Lisa Pratt, Treasurer

Seasons of Life

8609 Spring Creek Ct.

Springfield, VA  22153

MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH CONSORTIUM OF CHESTER COUNTY HELPING UNINSURED

As the impact of the recession continues to bear down on the country, a growing number of people face threats to their ability to provide their family's basic needs, including health care. Even in Chester County, one of the wealthiest counties in Pennsylvania, more than 26,000 adults and children are uninsured, and this number continues to swell. Medical Assistance applications in the county have increased by 30 percent from 2009 to 2010, the second highest increase among all Pennsylvania counties.

 

In these difficult economic times and long before, the Maternal and Child Health Consortium of Chester County (MCHC) has helped uninsured families obtain health coverage through our community-based approach.  Since 1996, our bilingual and bicultural staff has coordinated a countywide Health Insurance Enrollment Initiative for women, children and families, which includes outreach and education about subsidized health insurance and enrollment assistance into Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program.  In 2009, we enrolled 2,014 individuals (including 1,467 children), a 10 percent increase from 2008. "Richard" and his family of four were enrollees:

 

Richard was a network computer specialist and was excelling professionally until his company abruptly went out of business.  Like hundreds of other Chester County residents, Richard faced the frightening prospect of no health insurance for himself, his pregnant wife and his three children.  Anne, Richard’s wife, was expecting their fourth child very soon. Their three children, Jack, Sarah and Ethan, were involved in many after-school activities, including sports. Anne and Richard made the difficult decision to pull their children out of their sports activities, worried that they could be injured and unable to secure medical care because of the lack of insurance. 

 

Richard and Anne’s biggest concern was the family’s health insurance coverage.  With no place to turn, they looked for information in the phone book and found their local MCHC office.  When Richard and Anne contacted MCHC, a Family Health Advocate helped them to fill out the necessary forms to enroll their children in Pennsylvania’s CHIP.  The Family Health Advocate also helped Anne fill out the necessary paperwork to be eligible for Medical Assistance for prenatal care.

 

MCHC has witnessed firsthand how the ailing economy has increased the need for health care and changed the face of those who seek help. Despite such uncertain times, MCHC has remained a community leader in providing a bridge to health care.  For more information on Chester County’s MCHC, check their website www.ccmchc.org or contact Pamela Bryer, MPH, at pbryer@ccmchc.org.

PREVENT BLINDNESS AMERICA CREATES STAR PUPILS PROGRAM TO EDUCATE PARENTS ON VISION HEALTH

In an effort to educate parents about the need to protect children’s eye health, Prevent Blindness America, the nation’s oldest eye health and safety organization, and Real Kids Shades, a leading manufacturer of quality eyewear for infants and children, are teaming up to ensure that 5 million children have healthy eyes for healthy futures. The joint effort supports “Star Pupils,” a trademark program of Prevent Blindness America to promote eye health and safety designed to arm parents with the information they need to help their children achieve a lifetime of healthy vision. 

 

To support this effort, Real Kids Shades has designed a Star Pupils-branded pair of 100 percent ultraviolet (UV-A and UV-B) protective sunglasses with a percentage of proceeds from sales donated directly to the children’s vision education initiative.  The frames come in size 0-24 months in either pink or blue.

 

In addition to providing information on eye conditions such as “lazy eye” or “crossed eyes,” Star Pupils also includes information on the importance of eye safety, including the effects of continued UV exposure.  UV damage is cumulative, meaning that although the effects of the eye damage may not present itself immediately, over time, the damage may become significant enough to impair vision.

 

Prevent Blindness America recommends that children’s sunglasses block 100 percent UV-A and UV-B ultraviolet rays and should eliminate glare and squinting. The lenses should be checked for flaws, such as scratches, bubbles and distortions that can cause children’s eyes to work harder, resulting in squinting, tearing and even headaches. Sunglasses that suit children’s active lifestyles that are impact-resistant and made of polycarbonate materials should also be considered.

 

Many parents may not be aware of the damage that UV rays can have on the eyes.  According to the World Health Organization, up to 80 percent of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV is received before the age of 18. In fact, children are more susceptible to UV damage than adults because they tend to spend more time outside than adults. And, according to the American Optometric Association, children are at a greater risk of UV damage because the lenses of their eyes are more transparent, which allows more short wavelength light to reach the retina. UV damage to the eyes is cumulative, meaning it builds over time.  UV exposure has been linked to cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye problems.

 

For more information on Star Pupils or to receive information on the Star Pupils-branded infant sunglasses, please visit starpupils.org or call (800) 331-2020.

LEADERSHIP, LEGACY, AND COMMUNITY: A RETREAT TO ADVANCE MCH SCHOLARSHIP AND PRACTICE

‘…

 

. . fiercely progressive and thoughtful…very rare…but tremendously important . . .

 

Join us at the Hyatt Lodge in Oakbrook, Ill., July 19-21, 2010 for the 3rd annual University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health Maternal and Child Health leadership retreat:  Leadership, Legacy, and Community:  A Retreat to Advance MCH Scholarship and Practice. 

 

This national, professional development program is designed for intergenerational, interdisciplinary, academic/practice MCH professionals who are committed to social justice, equity-based interventions, and out-of-the-box thinking to improve the health of women, children, and families. 

 

Retreat participants will expand upon existing leadership strengths and develop new leadership skills through unique experiential leadership development sessions.  An exploration of equity-based interventions will have participants thinking outside of the box to explore innovative methods to improve the health and well-being of those we serve in our communities.  Participants will engage in community-development activities to develop and enhance their MCH network.  Participants will also work with Immunity to Change author Dr. Robert Kegan to explore new strategies for making change happen at the individual and systems-levels. 

 

Individually, participants will have an opportunity to discuss their leadership challenges/opportunities, next steps, work/life balance, etc. with a professional leadership/executive coach.  Participants will also have time to reflect on what is important and what is next for them and their communities.  Participants will leave the retreat rejuvenated, motivated, and excited to return to their work/communities and their personal lives. 

 

Registration is limited to 100 participants.  If this program feels interesting and exciting to you, we would love for you to participate!  Additionally, we encourage you to invite your diverse MCH colleagues to attend! 

 

For more information please check out our website at www.uic.edu/sph/mch or call/e-mail Kris Risley, DrPH, at (312) 996-2875 or kyrisley@uic.edu or Jaime Klaus at jaimkl@uic.edu.

INTRODUCING BEST BONES FOREVER! A FRESH AND FUN BONE HEALTH CAMPAIGN FOR GIRLS

Osteoporosis is a pediatric disease with geriatric consequences. In terms of bone health, the stage is set early on: girls build close to 90 percent of their bone mass by age 18. Once they reach adulthood, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to make it up. Unfortunately, most adolescent girls do not get the calcium, vitamin D, and physical activity they need to grow strong, healthy bones.

 

That’s why the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health launched Best Bones Forever!, a national bone health campaign for girls ages 9-14. Best Bones Forever! focuses on friendship and fun – and encourages girls to “grow strong together, stay strong forever.”

 

The new campaign empowers girls and their BFFs (best friend forever) to build strong bones by choosing snacks and foods with calcium and vitamin D, and getting an hour of physical activity a day.

 

Campaign materials such as journals, posters, magnets, tattoos, book covers and a website (www.bestbonesforever.gov) get girls excited about growing healthy bones! Additionally, parents can get important bone health information from a brochure in both English and Spanish, and a website: www.bestbonesforever.gov/parents.

 

Help make an impact by encouraging girls and their parents to make bone health a priority. If you are interested in ordering our free Best Bones Forever! materials, contact Talia at OWH@hagersharp.com.

MY BRIGHT, NEW, SHINY MPH

To others they may just look like three black letters after my name on my business card:  MPH.  Many people don’t even know what MPH stands for.  However, my family and my dearest friends (among others) are impressed to know that they stand for Master of Public Health.

 

To me these three little letters glow because they not only stand for the final accomplishment of my five year part-time education, but for all of the various experiences and events that have taken place in those five years.  There was the evening of my first class in the fall of 2005, Healthcare in the United States, after which I slipped in a quick trip to Prague before the second class the following Monday night.  There was the last class I took this past December, a stimulating course in Healthcare Ethics.  And there were all the classes in between:  the Tuesdays of falling leaves in Adolescent Health, the snowy Thursdays melting to spring buds in Public Health Program Planning and Evaluation or Biostatistics, the steamy summer nights in International Public Health, Epidemiology, and Environmental Health.  Five years of “to everything there is a season” and a time for every exam and research paper and group project, text books, notebooks, highlighters, Pathologies of Power, Complications, and How to Change the World.  And how I myself was changed doing algebra equations I thought I had forgotten 40 years ago, grasping the legal implications of patients without DNRs, struggling with the rights of adolescents, the rights of parents, the rights of the deceased, the rights of the unborn.

 

And while I was changing and learning from my instructors, my professors, and my classmates, I was changing personally as well.  I was changing though my personal journeys to Rio de Janeiro, where I worked with the innovative children’s health program, Saude Crianza Renascer, to Hong Kong, Swansea, Wales, and San Diego to present on the Moving Mountains Project I developed to address abuse of children with disabilities, to eight women’s hospitals nationally to study their different models of women’s health, to Nevada to serve on an expert child death review panel, to Bogota, Colombia to keep a friend company during the drawn out adoption process for her son, to a vacation in Paris, and to Saratoga (the track, SPAC, and kayaking) after a summer Healthcare Marketing class.  During those five years I got divorced, bought a house, moved, went to my middle daughter’s wedding, my eldest daughter’s home in Texas and my youngest daughter’s college graduation, and I ecstatically welcomed two beautiful grandchildren. Yes, the times they were a changin’.

 

How appropriate for the process of obtaining a degree in public health since in fact change is what public health is all about.  Changing health status, changing disease rates, changing mortality and morbidity by increasing access to health care, reducing risk factors, raising awareness through education, decreasing non-compliance, changing systems, methodologies, outreach strategies, group practices, individual behaviors.  And of course measuring those changes with well-designed studies:  observational, experimental, the ecologic studies, cross sectional studies, case-control studies and cohorts -- the more robust, the better. 

 

My own experience of writing my thesis on global maternal mortality had been a challenge as I was told by some experts in the field that the public health preventive approach had failed and only medical treatments could reduce the deaths of women in childbirth.  An article in The Lancet on April 12, 2010, documented a new study that indicated that indeed prevention, women’s empowerment and attendance at birth by skilled attendants, but not necessarily physicians, had been reducing maternal mortality over the past 20 years. The Lancet, Editor Richard Horton noted in an editorial, had been “invited” by some organizations to delay or suppress the new research and the article.  This change was very controversial as change usually is.  How daring, I thought. The history of public health, however, is full of challenges:  John Snow identifying the cause of cholera as microorganisms in a water well debunked the miasma theory of illness. Ignatz Semmelweis in the mid-1800s recommended hand-washing to reduce deaths in childbirth -- to us now a no-brainer, but at the time he was so ridiculed by his peers that he died in an institution at the age of 47 after a nervous breakdown.  Initiating change can be dangerous, risky.

 

As I sat in my black gown and mortar board awaiting my diploma, surrounded by my classmates, I couldn’t help but wonder what public health changes lay ahead that would be the result of this class of graduates.  I wondered about the risks we might take to publish research that would change accepted health practices, the challenges we might face in the process of supporting system changes, altering governmental policies, taking on big business, personal risks of going into areas of political unrest to reach vulnerable populations.

 

There in the decorum of a traditional graduate and medical school graduation I couldn’t help but think of the words of a leader far outside the health care sector, Niccolo Machiavelli, who wrote in The Prince:

 

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

 

And I could see not only my MPH glowing, but all the many around me burning with a passion to change the world.

 

Karel Rose Amaranth, MPH, MA, is a member of the MCH Section.

RECENT MCH HEADLINE NEWS FROM MSNBC

Recent stories from the MSNBC Health page of interest to MCH Section members include the following:

  

·         Britain Bans Doctor Who Linked Autism to Vaccine:  The doctor who persuaded millions of parents worldwide that a common vaccine could cause autism was barred from practicing medicine in Britain in May. The top medical group in England found that the conduct of his research was unethical.  For more information, click here.  

 

·         Child Deaths Decline World-Wide:  A new study says that past estimates of child deaths around the world are too high, with far fewer children dying each year than projected previously by the United Nations.

 

·         Long-term Study Shows Healthy Development Among Children of Lesbian Couples:  Being raised by a same-sex couple is no hindrance to healthy psychological development. The first generation of children conceived by lesbians through donor insemination is reaching adulthood, and a study which tracked them has found that having same-sex parents may actually be an asset in healthy development.

 

·         Kissing Owies May Have Actual Medical Benefit:  A new study suggests that kissing a child’s boo-boos may minimize the effect of stress hormones that can lead to chronic illness.

 

·         Button Batteries An Increasing Risk for American Kids:  New research shows that in the last 25 years, the rate of serious poisoning from battery ingestion among children in the United States has gone up parallel to the growing usage of lithium “button” batteries in many consumer electronics.

 

APHA INITIATIVES ON TRANSPORTATION AND PUBLIC HEALTH

As we all appreciate, our health is profoundly affected by our transportation decisions and options. Limited opportunities for physical activity, higher exposure to poor air quality, higher incidences of adult and childhood obesity and greater prevalence of asthma and cardiovascular disease are a few of the inequities brought by poor transportation policies.

 

As part of our effort to enhance cross-cutting activity and knowledge among various APHA members and sections, APHA is developing advocacy materials and helpful information related to the links between transportation and public health. If anyone is interested in learning more about this initiative, sharing success stories or lessons learned, or establishing a new Forum on Transportation and Public Health, please reach out to us!

 

Interested members are asked to contact Eloisa Raynault at eloisa.raynault@apha.org.