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Vision Care
Section Newsletter
Spring 2008

Current Public Health and Vision Legislation

There are resources at the Web sites for the House of Representatives and Senate that provide information on current bills.  Searching the available databases, a member of the Vision Care Section can find the content and status of bills of interest regarding public health and vision.  Here are five that are under consideration at present -- these listings give members a clear idea of how long the process of legislation can take given the dates of the latest major actions.

 

H.R.5496
Title: To amend the Public Health Service Act to establish various programs for the recruitment and retention of public health workers and to eliminate critical public health work force shortages in federal, state, local and tribal public health agencies.   Sponsor: Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] (introduced 2/26/2008)      Cosponsors (12)   Related Bills: S.1882   Latest Major Action: 2/26/2008 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

 

H.R.3404
Title: To amend the Public Health Service Act to provide grants for the training of graduate medical residents in preventive medicine and public health.  Sponsor: Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] (introduced 8/3/2007) Cosponsors (22)  Related Bills: S.1120  Latest Major Action: 8/3/2007 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

 

S.1452
Title: A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to establish a national center for public mental health emergency preparedness, and for other purposes.   Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 5/22/2007) Cosponsors (1)  Latest Major Action: 5/22/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

 

H.R.507

Title: To establish a grant program to provide vision care to children, and for other purposes.  Sponsor: Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] (introduced 1/17/2007)  Cosponsors (152)  Committees: House Energy and Commerce; Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions House Reports: 110-376  Latest Major Action: 10/16/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

 

H.R.3558

Title: To provide for the establishment of a Center of Excellence in Prevention, Diagnosis, Mitigation, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Military Eye Injuries, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 9/18/2007)  Cosponsors (31)  Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans' Affairs  Latest Major Action: 10/19/2007 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

New Initiative

As you all know we intend to initiate a new project designed to help improve clinical awareness and competence of eye care providers.

 

In an effort to communicate and disseminate information relevant to the clinical care of our patients, the Vision Care Section has formulated a task force to identify those clinical studies, new advances in clinical care and treatment, new pharmaceuticals and diagnostic and testing procedures that all clinicians should be familiar with. A monograph will be developed that will help provide eye health education to all eye providers. It will serve as a clinical summary companion, which the clinician would use in practice until the information becomes ingrained in his/her thinking. We may develop short glossy laminated summary sheets by condition for the providers to use in practice.

 

A pre- and post-testing of the materials will help clinicians in the assessment of their knowledge and provide the study team with the ability to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach. This document will be disseminated to the profession nationwide and made available online on APHA's Web site, and possibly on other Web pages frequented by clinicians. The intent is to focus on up-to-date information on eye conditions and new advances. Links to related resources and additional information will further the objectives of this project.

 

We intend to provide updates every two or three years as the need develops. The online version can be regularly updated as new studies and developments occur. The follow-ups would be less costly in terms of meetings, time and effort, but would help keep practicing eye providers up to date. All members of this task force have been selected, and they represent nationally renowned clinicians, optometrists, an ophthalmologist, a health economist and public health representatives from the private and public sectors.

 

Sponsors will be acknowledged in the monograph, and all materials and presentations as the findings from this project will be disseminated and presented in many forums.

Policy Review and Archiving Process

APHA’s policy review and archiving process is described at http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/archive/.  Comments on policies for review this year were due on May 21.  Upcoming dates in the policy review and archiving process include July 11 (The preliminary consent calendar and the collated recommendations for archiving are posted on the APHA Web site, Members Only section, and an e-mail alert is sent to all APHA members) and July 21 (The APHA Executive Board considers the preliminary archiving consent calendar that contains a JPC proposed disposition for each reviewed policy and any appeals of new policies rejected by the JPC).  The remainder of the schedule can be found on a Web site accessible by members only (http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/Policycalendar/default.htm).

Policy Advocacy

In this election year, APHA has developed general public health questions to be asked of the candidates. For your ease of access the candidate questions have been posted on APHA Web site at  http://www.apha.org/advocacy/tips/.  Please consider using these questions to guide your information gathering process regarding the candidates from whom you will choose to vote for this fall.  As a note, the Web site also includes other information that is valuable for advocating for public health.

Healthy Vision Month

While Healthy Vision Month has now passed, consider reviewing the information on this important public health activity at http://healthyvision2010.nei.nih.gov/hvm/march08ebulletinissue1.asp.

Enfoque Ixcan

Members of the APHA Vision Care Section are already aware of many other vision-related organizations.  One that may not be on the tips of so many members tongues is Enfoque Ixcán.  Dr. Scott Pike, Enfoque Ixcán’s president, wrote to members a summary of our progress for 2007, and of my last trip to the Ixcán in February of this year.  I hope you'll pay particular attention to the article about one of our cataract patients, Maria Ambrosio.  How the surgery has extended the usefulness of her life most impressed me.  We also have an article on education in the Ixcan.  This is a continuation on a series of articles we've been doing.  This one is authored by a young man who is the director of a middle school in the Ixcan.  Unlike most of his contemporaries in the Ixcan, Hugo has had the benefit of a complete education.  Young people like him are helping improve life in the Ixcan through better educational opportunities and excellent role models for the younger generation.  With this newsletter we also welcome a new board member, Debbie Billings. Debbie has experience in the Ixcan, she's very enthusiastic about our program and she's a good friend.  I hope you'll take the time to read about her.  We now have a logo, which doesn't show up in the attachment.  It's a cute little bird, the Quetzal (national bird of Guatemala), and he/she has a pair of glasses on.  Our Web site is under construction.  I'll let you know when you'll be able to see him/her there.  As always, if anything you read here provokes thoughts, ideas, comments, criticisms or the urge to donate, please let me know.” 

For more information, including the newsletter to which this letter from Dr. Pike makes reference, you can contact Enfoque Ixcán at Enfoqueixcán@aol.com.

Healthy People 2020 Development

Although the regional meetings for Healthy People 2020 development have now concluded, interested members can access Webcast recordings of the meetings at http://www.healthypeople.gov/hp2020/regional/default.asp.

National Public Health Week

You can review this year's April National Public Health Week focus at http://www.nphw.org/nphw08/08_pg_about.htm/  It is never too early to think of how you will take advantage of next year’s National Public Health Week to promote public health and vision health.

Global Burden of Disease

The new Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (the GBD Study), which commenced in the spring of 2007, is led by a consortium including the Harvard Initiative for Global health at Harvard University, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Queensland, and the World Health Organization. It is the first major effort since the original GBD 1990 Study to carry out a complete systematic assessment of the data on all diseases and injuries, and produce comprehensive and comparable estimates of the burden of diseases, injuries and risk factors for two time periods, 1990 and 2005. By November 2010 the project will produce a final set of estimates.

 

The GBD Study brings together a community of experts and leaders in epidemiology and other areas of public health research from around the world to measure current levels and recent trends in all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors, and to produce new and comprehensive sets of estimates and easy-to-use tools for research and teaching. This ambitious effort will be conducted systematically and transparently; both its methods and results will be made available to the public.

 

A panel of selected international experts in ocular conditions and public health has been convened to work on the estimates regarding loss of vision.  Vision loss is one of several other impairments (e.g. hearing loss, anemia, mental retardation) that are sequelae for multiple causes for which impairment envelopes are needed to ensure that cause-specific prevalence estimates are consistent with the total impairment in the population.

 

This study considers the following:

 

  • Concepts and definitions for quantifying burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors;
  • Cause lists: diseases and injuries, risk factors, and diseases as risks;
  • Sequelae definitions and selection criteria;
  • Disability weights;
  • Years lived with disability (YLD) estimation for diseases and injuries.

Two members of the APHA Vision Care Section serve on this panel — Janet Leasher from Nova Southeastern University and Kevin Frick from Johns Hopkins University.