08.05.15

Get Your Free Health Care…. From ISIS

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Courtesy of BBC

Courtesy of BBC

This post was written by Grace Kyallo, a high school student and intern at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. Any questions about the post can be directed to gmk17jcg@yahoo.com.

I could not even make it through the first thirty seconds of the fifteen-minute long propaganda video without cringing. There is a clear disconnect. It is difficult to fathom that this extremist group that encourages and performs beheadings and public executions is willing to provide people within their territory with health care services. Another concerning question is what happened to the existing medical facilities before the establishment of ISIS’s health care? ISIS is notorious for attacking and raiding hospitals such as the incidents in Rabiaa, Latakia, and al Barinas Hospital, all of which resulted in casualties. So, they were either clearing room to establish and operate medical centers of their own or recently realized the need for such services and facilities to establish themselves as a tangible state. Many fail to realize that ISIS cannot operate underground and must hold territory to remain legitimate. This is why ISIS appears so eager to expand its influence and territory past the borders of Iran and Syria. The establishment of a medical center in Raqqa, Syria, only helps to steer them toward this goal.

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08.04.15

The Ebola Vaccine: Where in union there is strength

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ebola-vaccineExcitement and promise are the prevailing reactions to the interim results of the Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOB (also known as the "Canadian vaccine") trial. To date, the vaccine has proven 100% successful and shown to have few side effects, which particularly impressive for a live vaccine. In addition, it has been well tolerated.

As expected, many are enthusiastic. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, considers the vaccine “a remarkable result which shows the power of equitable international partnerships and flexibility." It is a remarkable result indeed.

Ebola has exposed many vulnerabilities of how we deal with disease at the global level. The production of an Ebola vaccine demonstrates that where there is attention given by various sectors of society, science can and will receive sufficient support that otherwise would not have and what appear to be almost insurmountable scientific challenges can actually be overcome. What could have taken decades, took only 12 months.

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Posted in Global Health, WHO; Tagged: , , , , , , , , , .

08.03.15

4 Health Issues of Potential Importance During the Next 535 Days

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2000px-Iowa_in_United_States.svgThere are 535 days left in President Obama’s term of office. What does that mean? It means election campaigning is well under way in states like New Hampshire and Iowa. It means that approximately seventeen Republican candidates and several Democratic candidates are appearing at state fairs, famers markets, Pizza Ranches, televised debates and even a Wing Ding dinner. Therefore, as election season approaches, I’d like to take the opportunity to highlight a few public health issues (among others) that should be of concern during this election season. Also, in honor of my Iowa roots, I’ll be highlighting why the issues may have relevance to Iowans.  Read More

Posted in Global Health, Health reform, National Healthcare;

07.31.15

New amfAR Report Highlights Priority Actions to Help States Achieve National HIV/AIDS Strategy Goals

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Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 2.47.14 PMReport urges stronger, more consistent state leadership to help end the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

Major achievements have been made in the domestic HIV/AIDS response as a result of increased realignment and coordination of efforts at the federal level. However, that level of consistent coordination and alignment has yet to take place in most states. In an effort to identify what needs to be done, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, in collaboration with the National HIV/AIDS Initiative at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law, has released a set of recommendations for how states across the U.S. can improve HIV prevention and care outcomes in an effort to achieve the goals identified within the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

The report, “Bolstering State Efforts to Implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Key indicators and recommendations for policymakers and community stakeholders,” builds upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2014 “State Prevention Progress Report,” which provided state-level data on indicators related to national HIV prevention goals. The release of the report coincides with the release by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy Update, which sets priorities to guide the nation’s HIV response through 2020.

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Posted in National Healthcare; Tagged: , , , , , .

07.30.15

HIV Policy Expert Jeffrey Crowley Speaks on Updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy

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Jeff Crowley 1 copyWASHINGTON (July 30, 2015) – I congratulate Douglas M. Brooks, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy on the release of the updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States to guide the Nation's efforts through 2020. This updated Strategy holds the potential to make the next five years as consequential to our collective work as the last five years have been.

In 2010, President Obama fulfilled a commitment to the HIV community by releasing the first comprehensive Strategy. This was a five-year plan to guide the efforts of all stakeholders working to end the HIV epidemic in the United States. Today, I can only feel gratitude that the President has built such a strong legacy of consistent and strategic leadership in addressing HIV by implementing new insurance coverage options under the Affordable Care Act, refocusing prevention efforts and better aligning funding under the High Impact Prevention initiative, supporting and embracing significant research advances including the deployment of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a promising new prevention intervention and promoting immediate initiation of HIV treatment on diagnosis, as well as continually supporting the essential Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and other federal HIV programs.

Federal HIV program staff at all levels have truly reinvigorated the federal response to HIV and people living with HIV, community advocates, providers and others have collaborated in new ways and demonstrated a willingness to support difficult, but necessary policy and programmatic changes.

I am particularly encouraged to see the further refinement of indicators in the updated Strategy so that we can better monitor our progress and adapt our responses to new information.  I am also pleased to see a strengthening of the Strategy’s focus on valuing all communities impacted by HIV, but doing even more to highlight those at highest risk, including young Black gay and bisexual men.
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Posted in National Healthcare; Tagged: , , , , .

07.28.15

Treating the gun violence epidemic: A Call to Action

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IMG_4801-1 (2)

Yesterday, marked the three-year anniversary of weekly demonstrations led by a group called We the People for Sensible Gun Laws.  The group meets every Monday in front of the White House, holding signs displaying the names of victims of gun violence and demanding sensible gun laws.

In honor of the group’s third anniversary, the District’s Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes- Norton and Mayor Muriel Bowser joined the rally.

“You would think that after the Charleston nine …, you would think after the Louisiana shooting, where a deeply troubled man got a gun, you could at least get the background checks,” lamented Congresswoman Norton. “I am here to tell you that although the background check bill has been introduced in the House it hasn't even been introduced in the Senate.”

Then her tone changed. She reminded the crowd that laws change in response to committed activism.

“What that really tells us is that the kind of dedication you are showing is what our side needs to show. If 90% of American people are for the background check law, there is no good reason why we shouldn’t have that law. We know the gun violence we could have prevented.”

Sadly we know too well. There have been 204 mass shootings — and 204 days — in 2015 so far.

***Note: 204 refers only to mass shootings – defined as an event that results in the shooting of four or more people.   The numbers are significantly higher when accounting for total gun violence in this country since January 2015.***

The Congresswoman’s words were reenergizing. Changing American culture, perception and tolerance is a marathon. As we gear up for the next election cycle, the public health community needs to demand candidates who recognize a leading cause of death among young people (second only to car accidents) for what it truly is: an epidemic.

Gun violence is one of the biggest public health threats facing the United States today. IMG_4793

After each shooting, President Obama reminds us that the biggest “frustration” of his presidency is his failure to enact common sense gun legislation in this country.

We must send a message to the 2016 candidates that failing to address systemic gun violence is not a frustration, it is a crisis. And it is preventable. This past April, the Annals of Internal Medicine published Firearm-Related Injury and Death in the United States: A Call to Action From 8 Health Professional Organizations and the American Bar Association. The public health community must rally to champion this call to action in order to let our candidates know that it’s time to end "frustration” over gun violence.

Posted in Health reform, National Healthcare; Tagged: , , .

07.28.15

Addressing disparities in global health – it’s about time, but we still have important questions to consider

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disparities1Those working in global health and development are used to hearing about inequalities and disparities in health outcomes. We know that poor or disadvantaged populations around the world are more likely to have poorer health outcomes across almost all measures of health. It is promising to see large donors such as the Ford Foundation recognizing this and shifting their funding to focus on addressing global inequality.

But many questions remain about the best way to achieve the health outcomes we seek. For example, are some interventions having positive outcomes while exacerbating existing disparities within a population? Is this necessarily a bad thing? What if specifically focusing on disparities can sometimes slow overall progress to achieve a public health goal? Read More

Posted in Global Health, Tobacco; Tagged: , , , .

07.24.15

The Abortion Drone: An Innovative Use of Technology to Advance Women’s Health

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This post was co-authored by Rebecca Reingold and Sandra Majestic.

Image courtesy of CBC News

Image courtesy of CBC News

Last month, sexual and reproductive rights activists found a new use for drone technology. The Dutch NGO Women on Waves, in collaboration with other women’s rights organizations, coordinated the first “Abortion Drone”. The unmanned aerial vehicle flew packets of abortion pills from the German town of Frankfurt an der Oder to the Polish town of Slubice.

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Posted in Human Rights; Tagged: , , , , , , , .

07.17.15

Can Biohacking Solve the Global Insulin Shortage?

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Image courtesy of: http://www.mfprac.com/06disease/endocrine/dm/insulin2.png

Image courtesy of: http://www.mfprac.com/06disease/endocrine/dm/insulin2.png

For many diabetics, access to insulin can mean the difference between life and death. However, this vital product is often exorbitantly expensive, particularly for those living in low- and middle-income countries. As a result, many needlessly suffer and die from a manageable disease. One study estimates that the global prevalence of diabetes will rise from 171 million in 2000 to 366 million by 2030—4.4% of the world’s population. While not all diabetics are insulin-dependent, this will mark a vastly larger population of patients in need of the drug.

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Posted in Global Health; Tagged: , , , .

07.17.15

One year later: did the Ice Bucket Challenge actually work?

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140819-ice-bucket-challenge-1949_899e03e1c58b45b56812f96bc79680a6One year ago, the Ice Bucket Challenge was on its way to becoming one of the world’s most successfully awareness campaigns, instantly going viral on all social media platforms all over the world. Throughout the 2014 summer, more than 17 million people participated in the challenge, whose goal was to grow ALS awareness and support. However, the success was also met with much skepticism; were people truly reaching into their pockets and donating to the cause or simply having a laugh with their Facebook and Instagram friends?

Well, according to a recent Huffington Post article, the global #IceBucketChallenge raised an estimated $220 million in donations. In the U.S. alone, 2.5 million people donated $115 million to the ALS Association, making the event one of the largest episodes of giving outside of a disaster or emergency. Read More

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