Public Health Thank You Day

Dear Research Advocate: Happy Thanksgiving Week! I’m writing early to give us all a holiday. Last Thursday and Friday, l capped off a week of visiting our members at the McKnight Brain Institute (MBI) and the Health Science Center at the University of Florida. Research!America Chair Emeritus, and former member of Congress, the Honorable John Edward Porter, joined me at a Town Hall session during which students, postdocs, faculty, and administrators asked about the best ways to make the case for research with the current and new Congress. At MBI we heard patient advocate extraordinaire Jennifer French, Neurotech Network Executive Director, forcefully articulate the importance of a needed “...
Dear Research Advocate: News broke this week that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is struggling with a still-rising death toll due to Ebola, claiming more than 139 lives since July and spreading beyond the DRC. Meanwhile in the U.S., public health experts are working day and night to understand and overcome acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), now affecting children in 22 or more states. Ebola and AFM are public health crises today. It is predictable that there will be more unexpected crises on top of ongoing threats like the opioid epidemic, the increasing prevalence of obesity, chronic diseases and more. Which is why it defies common sense that investment in global health and in our...
Dear Research Advocate: Earlier today, Rob Smith and Kim Monk of Capital Alpha Partners, and Pete Kirkham of Red Maple Consulting joined Research!America alliance members to discuss the near and mid-term outlook for congressional action on drug pricing, the state of play on appropriations, and other research-relevant issues. Although our speakers noted that much can change in the final week before the election, there were several key takeaways. First, it’s safe to say that the uncertainties surrounding the election and the ongoing interest (both in Congress and the White House) in addressing rising healthcare costs means that drug pricing and issues related to the supply chain more...
Dear Research Advocate: Yesterday, along with 85 partner organizations (more than ever before!), we celebrated Public Health Thank You Day . Hundreds of people took to social media with the hashtag #PHTYD to celebrate and thank the public health heroes who work 24/7 to maximize community health and safety. Overall, PHTYD garnered 10.1 million impressions on Twitter. Leaders in the field, including CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, NIH Director Francis Collins, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, and World Bank President Jim Kim added their voices to the overwhelming chorus of appreciation. Late last week, news broke of promising discussions in both...
Dr. Sue Anne Bell is a Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing and Health Behavior and Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. Her research focus is on disaster preparedness and response, particularly on the long-term impact of disasters on human health in the United States and in settings around the world. You are currently in Puerto Rico assisting with the response to Hurricane Maria. Can you give a few examples of the long-term public health challenges Puerto Rico faces? Right now I am standing in the center of Old San Juan, which is usually a tourist mecca. Under normal conditions, this area would be filled with cruise ships, musicians, open restaurants and...
Dear Research Advocate: Yesterday, a high energy discussion on Advocating for Basic Science in a Disease-Focused World at the Society for Neuroscience conference once again revealed the strong appetite for advocacy among scientists, and young scientists in particular. The audience resonated with my point that “you can’t outsource advocacy,” and many were inspired to tweet on the spot. In case you doubt the impact of scientists engaging in advocacy, consider this: Research!America’s Board Chair, former Congressman (R-DE) and Governor Mike Castle, was recently interviewed by the Society for Neuroscience: “Scientists deepened my understanding of the promise of embryonic stem cell research...
Terrifying news accounts of recent deaths from Ebola, flesh-eating bacteria, HIV/AIDS, Zika and even the plague can give the misleading impression that we are at greater risk than ever. But we are fortunate to live in a time when—thanks to scientific advances that have produced lifesaving vaccines and treatments—we can actually begin to imagine a disease-free world. It’s appropriate for us on Public Health Thank You Day (PHTYD) to acknowledge the commitment of scientists around the globe who work tirelessly, often under difficult and dangerous circumstances, to solve the world’s most pressing health problems. As we have all been reminded, diseases know no borders so it’s important that we...
Public health offers the greatest return on investment to improve both health and environmental outcomes. It is the common platform that will enable us to tackle the existential challenge of our time: how we can live sustainably on our planet as we add another 2 billion people to the world’s population by 2050. This is an urgent challenge given that we already utilize more resources on a yearly basis than our planet’s ecosystems can provide. This global population increase will primarily occur in urban settings in developing countries that already have a fractured or fragile infrastructure. This is a precarious mix that lends itself to instability, poor health and worsening environmental...
Dear Research Advocate: This just in: advocacy works. The four provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that posed a threat to the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) have been removed from the conference report. We owe a special thank you to our congressional champions Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Representatives Ryan Costello (R-PA), Peter King (R-NY), Sanford Bishop (D-GA) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA). Next, let’s make advocacy work for federal funding. Congress has only 14 legislative days to act before the current continuing resolution (CR) expires on December 8. From what we are hearing, the chances of an FY18 budget deal...
Rural America represents a large geographic area, a place where more than 60 million people currently reside. How large? As much as 75%of the nation’s geography is considered to be “rural and frontier.” The public health challenges of this vast area and population are significant, and often under appreciated. Rural Americans face a unique combination of factors that create significant disparities in health care including economic factors, cultural and social differences, educational limitations, and the sheer isolation of living in remote areas. These challenges are compounded by the fact that many policymakers do not understand or recognize that rural communities have unique challenges...

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Pam Hirata, heart disease survivor