Opinion writers weigh in on these public health topics and other issues.
The Wall Street Journal: How To Persuade Parents To Vaccinate Their Kids
The current outbreaks of measles are largely a result of parents being afraid to vaccinate their children—a fear that increased dramatically after a 1998 study in the Lancet falsely linked the vaccine with autism. It took 12 years for the journal to retract the study, which was based on only 12 children. The lead author lost his medical license, but the damage had been done. Parents may not know about the study or not believe it was bogus. How do doctors persuade them? No matter what clinical specialty you go into, somebody’s going to question or ignore your advice. How do you approach patients who disagree with you? (Jon LaPook, 6/5)
Stat: As Americans Shun Measles Vaccine, Residents Of Idjwi Are Dying To Get It
From my home in Idjwi, an island in Lake Kivu between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda with a population of 300,000, I’ve been watching the U.S. measles outbreak with a mixture of astonishment and incredulity.The U.S. outbreak, with nearly 1,000 reported cases so far, is due in large part due to parents who have not vaccinated their children against this highly contagious disease. In Idjwi, many parents would give anything for their children to receive a measles vaccination, because they know all too well what can happen to unvaccinated children. (Jacques Sebisaho, 6/6)
Miami Herald: Homestead Shelter Must Have A Hurricane Plan For Detained Kids
As hurricane season begins, activists monitoring the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children posed a question: “Do the feds have a hurricane plan?” The recent response was dispiriting: “We’re working on it” and “We can’t tell you what it is” aren’t sufficient answers. The camp houses about 3,000 underage teens who entered the United States without permission and in many cases have been separated from their parents. (6/6)
The Wall Street Journal: Democrats And The Border Children
At least two migrant children died in May at the U.S.-Mexico border, including a boy with the flu and a 10-month-old who drowned in the Rio Grande. President Trump is misguided in using tariffs against Mexico to solve the border mess, but he’s right about the crisis of families with children arriving to exploit U.S. asylum law. He’s also right that Democrats refuse to help. The statistics tell a story of border mayhem, and these aren’t invented by White House aide Stephen Miller. In the first eight months of fiscal 2019, border agents apprehended nearly 56,300 unaccompanied children at the southern border, as well as nearly 333,000 migrants traveling as part of a family. (6/5)
WBUR: Why You Should Care About Ebola In Congo
Though community attitudes and the decisions of individuals contribute to how outbreaks spread, a broken health system seems to be the single largest contributor to how susceptible a country might be to an outbreak, and how quickly it can be stamped out. During the West Africa outbreak, which was considerably larger and more deadly than the outbreak in Congo, most people who fell ill never had Ebola. (Jonathan Lascher, 6/6)
The Hill: Wearable Technology: Do We Really Need 10,000 Steps A Day To Be Healthy?
While most have heard of the recommendation, many of us aren’t quite as obsessed about getting 10,000 steps of daily activity as satirist and author David Sedaris. He describes trudging obsessively along the roads in Sussex, England just to feel that gratifying buzz from his wrist-worn device when he reached 10,000 steps. That is why the release of a large study reporting that the health benefits of physical activity are apparent at levels far below 10,000 steps has the scientific community and the public buzzing with equal intensity. (Mercedes Carnethon, 6/5)
The Wall Street Journal: Coffee Doesn’t Kill After All
California’s regulatory regime is enough to give anyone the jitters, so good news that the state signed off Monday on a new rule admitting that coffee won’t kill you. Roasted coffee beans contain a chemical called acrylamide, which is also found in roughly 40% of calories Americans consume, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association. But acrylamide is one of hundreds of chemicals listed as carcinogens or reproductive toxins under California’s 1986 Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, known as Proposition 65. (6/5)
The Hill: Without Transparency, Health-Care Industry Will Keep Price-Gouging
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced a bipartisan bill to finally end the money games of medicine — games that have relied on secrecy, kickbacks and ruling class rules to overcharge everyday Americans at a time when they are most vulnerable. One in five Americans now has medical debt in collections and frustration with health-care’s pricing failures has finally hit a boiling point.While surprise bills are one manifestation of the power struggle, they are a symptom of a larger problem — the absence of information to shop for medical care. The new bill, which is in line with the White House’s goal to increase transparency in health care, would shed light on the negotiated prices that hospitals and insurers keep secret, hindering competition. (Marty Makary, 6/4)
The New York Times: The Problem With ‘Sharenting’
Parents this year were introduced to a goblin for the digital era: Momo, a bird-woman with an eerie grin who commanded the children who watched her videos on YouTube to harm themselves. The story turned out to be essentially a hoax, but it went viral in the first place because it seemed to validate a widely held belief: Our kids are in danger because of threats associated with the dark corners of social media and risk of addiction to phones and tablets. The annual American Family Survey found last fall that “overuse of technology” had risen to the top of the list of concerns for parents of teenagers, above drugs, sexual activity and mental health. (Kamenetz, 6/5)
The Hill: What Mental Health Services Can Teach Us About A Consumer Health-Care Model
Despite bearing financial burdens for more of our health-care expenses, many people do not feel or function as true health-care customers, with a sense of entitlement to get a health-care system that works for them. But in mental health care, patients are already consumers and customers, often out of necessity. Only 55 percent of psychiatrists accept insurance, so many consumers who need care must pay out of pocket. This financial burden can make needed mental health care inaccessible for many. Yet operating outside the insurance system means that those who can afford it may get better, more personalized care. (Deb Gordon, 6/4)
The CT Mirror: Medical Assistants Can Help Relieve The Burden On Nurses
Recently, there has been a debate about the role that Medical Assistants should play in the healthcare field. Connecticut and New York are the only two states that do not allow Medical Assistants to administer vaccines and medications. The Connecticut Society of Medical Assistants (CTSMA) has petitioned the Connecticut legislature for many years. (Tabitha Opie, 6/5)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.