On gritty streets where heroin, fentanyl and meth stride like Death Eaters, where for decades both drugs and the war on drugs have wrecked lives, the city of Seattle is pioneering a bold approach to narcotics that should be a model for America. Anyone caught here with a small amount of drugs — even heroin — isn’t typically prosecuted. Instead, that person is steered toward social services to get help. Find out more here.
Health officials and advocacy groups are strongly condemning the Trump administration’s proposal to limit legal immigrants’ access to green cards if they use an array of public benefits, including Medicaid, food stamps and federal housing subsidies.
“This is not only bad for the health and well-being of the people most directly affected, it is bad for all of us,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, head of the American Public Health Association, one of scores of health-care groups to criticize the administration’s proposal.
“We hope that this heartless, punitive public policy will be reversed,” Benjamin said.Among the major groups nationally calling on the Trump administration to withdraw the so-called public charge proposal – posted Wednesday in the Federal Register – are the American Medical Association, the March of Dimes and the American Hospital Association.
Unreliable funding of public health agencies exposes communities unnecessarily to threats like the Zika virus. An always-prepared national public health system requires sustained support, not the same old political theater.
Special to The Times
THE debate over how to respond to the Zika virus has produced some of the most dramatic political theater seen in Congress since the Ebola outbreak in 2014. It’s an edge-of-your seat drama, and Washington, D.C.,’s media brain trust knows it: a mysterious, life-threatening virus with tropical origins, high stakes for American families and a national leadership at war over how to deal with it.
The international medical community found that Zika causes microcephaly, a debilitating brain defect in fetuses that can prevent a child from ever walking or talking. While the U.S. Congress is making progress, it still has not adopted the emergency funding requested by the White House in February. Instead, the federal government just cut health departments’ emergency-preparedness budgets by 7 percent.
By Seattle Times Editorial Board
CONGRESS must act quickly to help stop the spread of the Zika virus.
As of April 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported nearly 400 cases throughout the U.S., including two in Washington, and infections in 33 pregnant women.
Lawmakers should grant President Obama’s $1.9 billion emergency funding request to control Zika-carrying mosquitoes, develop a vaccine and assist countries dealing with much higher rates of infection.
Dr. William Dobyns, a Zika expert and pediatric neurologist at Seattle Children’s who is tracking its spread, showed The Seattle Times jarring photos of babies born to mothers infected with the virus. Some will never walk or talk.
With Zika virus dominating headlines, the Big Cities Health Coalition reached out to Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer at Public Health – Seattle & King County, to discuss some of the unique challenges in the U.S. arising from the sudden emergence of this virus. We’ve excerpted it here (read the full interview on their Frontlines blog):
It seems like every year or so, there’s a new global infectious disease outbreak, like Ebola or MERS, and now Zika. Why is this, and what should we be prepared to do about it?
Part of this is due to the increased encroachment of humans on new habitats coupled with increased ease of regional and global travel, creating more opportunities for disease to spread. Humans and disease-carrying organisms are coming into more contact through urbanization and deforestation. Climate change has facilitated the movement of vectors like mosquitoes to broader habitats. And microorganisms have been adapting to be resistant to some of the treatments that have worked in the past.
To be effective in our response to infectious diseases, we must invest in a stronger public health system at the federal, state and local levels. State and local public health departments are on the front lines in our communities. We do surveillance to track and monitor diseases, update and coordinate our partners in hospitals and healthcare, provide public information and education, and operationalize federal guidance and plans on the local level.