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Does Global Progress on Sanitation Really Lag behind Water? An Analysis of Global Progress on Community- and Household-Level Access to Safe Water and Sanitation

January 26, 2015 Comments off

Does Global Progress on Sanitation Really Lag behind Water? An Analysis of Global Progress on Community- and Household-Level Access to Safe Water and Sanitation
Source: PLoS ONE

Safe drinking water and sanitation are important determinants of human health and wellbeing and have recently been declared human rights by the international community. Increased access to both were included in the Millennium Development Goals under a single dedicated target for 2015. This target was reached in 2010 for water but sanitation will fall short; however, there is an important difference in the benchmarks used for assessing global access. For drinking water the benchmark is community-level access whilst for sanitation it is household-level access, so a pit latrine shared between households does not count toward the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target. We estimated global progress for water and sanitation under two scenarios: with equivalent household- and community-level benchmarks. Our results demonstrate that the “sanitation deficit” is apparent only when household-level sanitation access is contrasted with community-level water access. When equivalent benchmarks are used for water and sanitation, the global deficit is as great for water as it is for sanitation, and sanitation progress in the MDG-period (1990–2015) outstrips that in water. As both drinking water and sanitation access yield greater benefits at the household-level than at the community-level, we conclude that any post–2015 goals should consider a household-level benchmark for both.

See: Study calls for new global standard for safe drinking water and sanitation (Science Daily)

National And State Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report

January 20, 2015 Comments off

National And State Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report (PDF)
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a major, yet often preventable, threat to patient safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is committed to helping all Americans receive the best and safest care. The National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report (HAI Progress Report) expands and provides an update on the previous reports detailing progress toward the ultimate goal of eliminating healthcare-associated infections. The Report can serve as a reference for anyone looking for information about national and state HAI prevention progress. It is specifically designed to be accessible to many audiences.

The Emerging Crisis: Noncommunicable Diseases

January 15, 2015 Comments off

The Emerging Crisis: Noncommunicable Diseases
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The gravest health threats facing low- and middle-income countries are not the plagues, parasites, and blights that dominate the news cycle and international relief efforts. They are the everyday diseases the international community understands and could address, but fails to take action against.

Once thought to be challenges for affluent countries alone, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) have emerged as the leading cause of death and disability in developing countries. In 2013, these diseases killed eight million people before their sixtieth birthdays in these countries. The chronic nature of NCDs means patients are sick and suffer longer and require more medical care. The resulting economic costs are high and escalating. Unless urgent action is taken, this emerging crisis will worsen in low- and middle-income countries and become harder to address.

CRS — Regulation of Clinical Tests: In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) Devices, Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs), and Genetic Tests (December 17, 2014)

January 14, 2015 Comments off

Regulation of Clinical Tests: In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) Devices, Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs), and Genetic Tests (pdf)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In vitro diagnostic (IVD) devices are used in the analysis of human samples, such as blood or tissue, to provide information in making health care decisions. Examples of IVDs include (1) pregnancy test kits or blood glucose tests for home use; (2) laboratory tests for infectious disease, such as HIV or hepatitis, and routine blood tests, such as cholesterol and anemia; and (3) tests for various genetic diseases or conditions. More recently, a specific type of diagnostic test—called a companion diagnostic—has been developed that may be used to select the best therapy, at the right dose, at the correct time for a particular patient; this is often referred to as personalized or precision medicine.

Federal agencies involved in the regulation of IVDs include the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). FDA derives its authority to regulate the sale and distribution of medical devices, such as IVDs, from the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act and the Public Health Service Act. CMS’s authority to regulate IVDs is through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988. FDA regulates the safety and effectiveness of the diagnostic test, as well as the quality of the design and manufacture of the diagnostic test. CMS regulates the quality of clinical laboratories and the clinical testing process.

CRS — The National Nanotechnology Initiative: Overview, Reauthorization, and Appropriations Issues (December 16, 2014)

January 14, 2015 Comments off

The National Nanotechnology Initiative: Overview, Reauthorization, and Appropriations Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Nanotechnology—a term encompassing the science, engineering, and applications of submicron materials—involves the harnessing of unique physical, chemical, and biological properties of nanoscale substances in fundamentally new and useful ways. The economic and societal promise of nanotechnology has led to investments by governments and companies around the world. In 2000, the United States launched the world’s first national nanotechnology program. From FY2001 through FY2014, the federal government invested approximately $19.4 billion in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology through the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). President Obama has requested $1.5 billion in NNI funding for FY2015. U.S. companies and state governments have invested billions more. The United States has, in the view of many experts, emerged as a global leader in nanotechnology, though the competition for global leadership is intensifying as countries and companies around the world increase their investments.

Nanotechnology’s complexity and intricacies, early stage of development (with commercial payoff possibly years away for many potential applications), and broad scope of potential applications engender a wide range of public policy issues. Maintaining U.S. technological and commercial leadership in nanotechnology poses a variety of technical and policy challenges, including development of technologies that will enable commercial scale manufacturing of nanotechnology materials and products, as well as environmental, health, and safety concerns.

Health Canada Publishes Findings From Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study

January 13, 2015 Comments off

Health Canada Publishes Findings From Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study
Source: Health Canada

Today, Health Canada published findings from the Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study. Launched in 2012, in collaboration with Statistics Canada, this study explored the relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and the health effects reported by, and measured in, people living near wind turbines.

In the effort of being more open and transparent, the findings are available on Health Canada’s website. The findings provide a more complete overall assessment of the potential impacts that exposure to wind turbines may have on health and well-being.

No evidence was found to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and any of the self-reported or measured health endpoints examined. However, the study did demonstrate a relationship between increasing levels of wind turbine noise and annoyance towards several features (including noise, vibration, shadow flicker, and the aircraft warning lights on top of the turbines) associated with wind turbines.

It is important to note that the findings from this study do not provide definitive answers on their own and must be considered in the context of a broader evidence base.

New From the GAO

January 12, 2015 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Commercial Aviation: Raising Passenger Facility Charges Would Increase Airport Funding, but Other Effects Less Certain. GAO-15-107, December 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-107
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667445.pdf

2. Federal Facility Cybersecurity: DHS and GSA Should Address Cyber Risk to Building and Access Control Systems. GAO-15-6, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-6
Highlights –  http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667511.pdf

3. Nutrition Assistance: Additional Guidance Could Assist States in Reducing Risk of Online Sale of Infant Formula. GAO-15-94, December 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-94
Highlights –  http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667459.pdf

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