Opinion writers weigh in on these health issues and others.
The Washington Post: A Lot Went Wrong With The Tobacco Settlement. Let’s Not Make The Same Mistakes With Opioids.
When I was health commissioner in Baltimore, my single greatest frustration was inaction around the opioid epidemic. Every day, more than 130 Americans die from opioid overdose, and Baltimore has not been spared. In 2017, nearly 700 city residents died from this preventable tragedy. Even though I had written a blanket prescription that made the opioid antidote naloxone readily available, limited funding forced first responders to ration this lifesaving medication. Science is unequivocal that addiction is a disease that can be treated. But in Baltimore, and throughout the United States, only a fraction of patients with addiction are getting the treatment they need. (Leana S. Wen, 10/8)
Houston Chronicle: Here’s A Scary Thought: Missing The Flu Shot This Year
Two years ago, when Australia had a terrible flu season, ours mirrored that, with nearly 49 million people sickened in the United States, almost 1 million hospitalizations, and 79,400 deaths. The number of cases was the highest since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. It is impossible to know how closely our flu season will mimic the one ending in Australia, but public health officials consider it a generally good indicator and a reason to set up a vaccination appointment now for ourselves and our children. Doctors recommend making sure those vaccinations take place by the end of October. Timeliness is especially important when you consider that it takes two weeks for the flu to take effect. Delay can be tragic. (Allison Winnike, 10/4)
Los Angeles Times: President Trump Wants You To Get Your Flu Shot
Influenza — the flu — is more than a bad cold. Seasonal outbreaks mean not only misery but increased hospital admissions and deaths. The last flu season, from October 2018 until May 2019, caused up to 42.9 million illnesses, up to 647,000 hospitalizations and up to 61,200 deaths, according to preliminary numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those figures are slightly higher than the average over the last decade.What can we expect this year? Australia’s flu season, which runs ahead of ours (May to October), is often a good predictor. Its onset this year was early and there was a higher than average number of cases. The U.S. should prepare for a robust flu season, starting this month. (Henry I. Miller, 10/9)
The Hill: The Surgeon General Is Right About Marijuana And Its Risks
Paul Armentano’s opinion in The Hill, “What the Surgeon General gets wrong about marijuana,” disputes several facts that Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams discusses in Surgeon General’s Advisory: Marijuana Use and the Developing Brain Armentano asserts the surgeon general is wrong about the harms and risks of marijuana. He selects limited data in support of his argument about the benefits of marijuana use to further the goals of his organization, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Examination of the scientific literature cited in the advisory emphasizes the importance of protecting Americans from the risks of use, specifically during adolescence and pregnancy. (Elinore McCance Katz, Patricia Santora and Thomas Clarke, 10/8)
Los Angeles Times: There’s Enormous Waste In U.S. Healthcare, So Why Isn’t Anyone Doing Anything About It?
As Mark Twain reputedly said about the weather, everybody talks about waste in the U.S. healthcare system, but nobody does anything about it. A new study puts numbers on the scale of that waste and nails down its sources. But it leaves open the question of what to do about it. That’s especially true of the largest single source identified by the authors: “administrative complexity,” which accounts for as much as $265.6 billion in waste a year, or as much as one-third of the total. Yet that’s the one category for which the authors could find not a single article offering solutions for cuts. (Michael Hiltzik, 10/8)
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Tech Companies Should Not Treat Online Drug Sales Like Free Speech
The selling of illegal drugs online is not a matter of free speech, but is a crime and should be treated as such. Just last month, the FDA and DEA sent a first-of-its-kind joint warning letter to 10 websites who were illegally marketing and selling opioids. This is a great step, but it is not enough. (Ryan Costello, 10/9)
Portland Press Herald: Lead Poisoning Requires A Solution As Big As The Problem
The dangers of lead poisoning were laid bare in Flint, Michigan, where contaminated water exposed thousands of children to the dangerous neurotoxin – but Flint is not alone. A 2016 investigation by Reuters found nearly 3,000 areas with lead poisoning rates at least double of Flint at the peak of its crisis, caused by the remnants of lead once used in paint, water pipes and gasoline.And everywhere it’s found, even at levels lower than those found in Flint, it has a profound and permanent effect on the health of children, affecting the development of their brains and nervous systems. It costs the United States dearly, too – billions of dollars in health care, special education and criminal justice spending. (10/9)
The New York Times: At Risk In The Culture Of ‘Normal’
Every day, in every community, all around the world, people with differences are demeaned. Whether they have autism, cerebral palsy, deafness, visual impairment, dyslexia, depression, ADHD or something else, they are being treated as abnormal and deficient in school and at work, as well as in families and communities. And there are consequences. (Jonathan Mooney, 10/9)
Sacramento Bee: Gavin Newsom Should Give More Funds To Rape Crisis Centers
Last month and at my urging, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to move $600,000 from county reserves to provide the YWCA Silicon Valley in San Jose and Community Solutions in Gilroy the resources they needed to staff 24-hour counseling and other response services to rape victims. The decision means that our county’s two rape crisis centers can continue to provide much-needed services to victims of domestic and sexual violence. (Cindy Chavez, 10/7)
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