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Strengthening the Detection of and Early Response to Public Health Emergencies: Lessons from the West African Ebola Epidemic

March 27, 2015 Comments off

Strengthening the Detection of and Early Response to Public Health Emergencies: Lessons from the West African Ebola Epidemic
Source: PLoS Medicine

Summary Points

  • The international response to the West African Ebola virus disease epidemic has exemplified the great potential of the global public health community. However, the protracted early response also revealed critical gaps, which likely resulted in exacerbation of the epidemic.
  • It is incumbent on international health partners to learn from missteps that occurred in the early stages of the epidemic and strengthen our public health capacity to better respond to future public health emergencies.
  • Strategies to consider include development of a more precise system to risk stratify geographic settings susceptible to disease outbreaks, reconsideration of the 2005 International Health Regulations Criteria to allow for earlier responses to localized epidemics before they reach epidemic proportions, increasing the flexibility of the World Health Organization director general to characterize epidemics with more granularity, development of guidelines for best practices to promote partnership with local stakeholders and identify locally acceptable response strategies, and, most importantly, making good on international commitments to establish a fund for public health emergency preparedness and response.
  • The recent success of the global action to stem the Ebola virus disease epidemic is laudable but should not encourage complacency in our efforts to improve the global public health infrastructure.

New Hepatitis C Treatments: Considerations and Potential Strategies for States

March 24, 2015 Comments off

New Hepatitis C Treatments: Considerations and Potential Strategies for States
Source: National Governors Association

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) convened an expert roundtable to discuss the opportunities and challenges presented by new hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatments and other pharmaceutical therapies known as high-impact drugs. Such drug treatments share the common characteristics of being more effective than prevailing drug therapies, often resulting in a change in clinical practice that includes treating many more people and being much more expensive. Experts participating in the roundtable included state health care leaders, scientists, national health care experts, subject-matter experts from insurance and pharmaceutical companies, Medicaid and corrections legal experts, and senior staff from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This paper summarizes the expert roundtable discussion supplemented by NGA Center research to flesh out the background information and strategies discussed.

The Food Assistance Landscape: FY 2014 Annual Report

March 24, 2015 Comments off

The Food Assistance Landscape: FY 2014 Annual Report
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

In this report, the Economic Research Service (ERS) uses preliminary data from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to examine trends in U.S. food and nutrition assistance programs through fiscal 2014 (October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014) and ERS data to examine trends in the prevalence and severity of household food insecurity in the United States through 2013.

Tuberculosis Trends — United States, 2014

March 23, 2015 Comments off

Tuberculosis Trends — United States, 2014
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

In 2014, a total of 9,412 new tuberculosis (TB) cases were reported in the United States, with an incidence rate of 3.0* cases per 100,000 persons, a decrease of 2.2% from 2013 (1). Although overall numbers of TB cases and rates continue to decline, the percentage decrease in rate is the smallest decrease in over a decade (1). This report summarizes provisional TB surveillance data reported to CDC’s National Tuberculosis Surveillance System for 2014. TB cases and rates decreased among U.S.-born persons, and although the case rate also decreased among foreign-born persons,† there was an increase in total number of cases among foreign-born persons. The rate among foreign-born persons in the United States in 2014 was 13.4 times higher than among U.S.-born persons. Racial/ethnic minorities continue to be disproportionately affected by TB within the United States. Asians continue to be the racial/ethnic group with the largest number of TB cases. Compared with non-Hispanic whites, the TB rate among Asians was 28.5 times higher, whereas rates among non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics were each eight times higher. Four states (California, Texas, New York, and Florida), representing approximately one third of the U.S. population, accounted for half of all TB cases reported in 2014. Continued progress toward TB elimination in the United States will require focused TB control efforts among populations and in geographic areas with disproportionate burdens of TB.

County-Level Variation in Prevalence of Multiple Chronic Conditions Among Medicare Beneficiaries, 2012

March 23, 2015 Comments off

County-Level Variation in Prevalence of Multiple Chronic Conditions Among Medicare Beneficiaries, 2012
Source: Preventing Chronic Disease (CDC)

In 2012, 15% of aged Medicare beneficiaries had 6 or more chronic conditions. Prevalence varied geographically by county; counties in the lowest quintile had prevalence estimates of 10.3% or lower, and those in the highest quintile had prevalence estimates of 17.3% or higher. Counties in the highest quintile had prevalence estimates that were 1.2 times higher than the national average of 15%. Eighty-seven counties had estimates at least 1.5 times higher than the national average; 3 counties had prevalence estimates at least twice the national average. Counties in the Northeast and Southeast generally had a higher prevalence of aged beneficiaries with 6 or more chronic conditions than the national average, whereas counties with prevalence estimates below the national average were predominantly in the western states of Oregon, Montana, and Wyoming.

Invasive Cancer Incidence and Survival — United States, 2011

March 18, 2015 Comments off

Invasive Cancer Incidence and Survival — United States, 2011
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Because of improvements in early detection and treatment of cancer, the proportion of persons with cancer who survive ≥5 years after diagnosis has increased (1). To assess progress toward achieving Healthy People 2020 objectives (2),* CDC analyzed data from U.S. Cancer Statistics (USCS) for 2011, the most recent data available. USCS includes incidence and survival data from CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program and mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System (3). In 2011, a total of 1,532,066 invasive cancers were reported to cancer registries in the United States (excluding Nevada), for an annual incidence rate of 451 cases per 100,000 persons. Cancer incidence rates were higher among males (508) than females (410), highest among black persons (458), and ranged by state, from 374 to 509 per 100,000 persons (339 in Puerto Rico). The proportion of persons with cancer who survived ≥5 years after diagnosis was 65% and was similar among males (65%) and females (65%) but lower among black persons (60%) compared with white persons (65%). Surveillance of cancer incidence and survival are essential for identifying population groups with high cancer incidence rates and low cancer survival rates as well as for estimating the number of cancer survivors, which was 13.7 million in 2012 (1). These data are being used by states to effectively develop comprehensive cancer control programs, including supporting the needs of cancer survivors.

The Effects of Potential Cuts in SNAP Spending on Households With Different Amounts of Income

March 18, 2015 Comments off

The Effects of Potential Cuts in SNAP Spending on Households With Different Amounts of Income
Source: Congressional Budget Office

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) provides benefits to low-income households to help them buy food. Total federal expenditures on SNAP amounted to $76 billion in fiscal year 2014. In an average month that year, 47 million people (or one in seven U.S. residents) received SNAP benefits.

Some policymakers have expressed a desire to scale back the program significantly to reduce federal spending. In this report, CBO examines several options for doing so and their effects on the benefits that would be received by households with different amounts of income.

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