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Data for Building a National Suicide Prevention Strategy

August 29, 2014 Comments off

Data for Building a National Suicide Prevention Strategy (PDF)
Source: American Journal of Public Health

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S. As both the rate and number of suicides continue to climb, the country struggles with how to reverse this alarming trend. Using population-based data from publically available sources including the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the authors identified patterns of suicide that can be used to steer a public health – based suicide prevention strategy. That most suicide deaths occur upon the first attempt, for example, suggests that a greater investment in primary prevention is needed. The fact that definable subgroups receiving care through identifiable service systems, such as individuals in specialty substance use treatment, exhibit greater concentrations of suicide risk than the general public suggests that integrating suicide prevention strategies into those service system platforms is an efficient way to deliver care to those with heightened need. The data sets that reveal these patterns have both strengths (e.g., population-level) and weaknesses (e.g., lack of longitudinal data linking changing health status, intervention encounters, suicidal behavior, and death records). Some of the data needed for crafting a comprehensive, public health – based approach for dramatically reducing suicide are currently available or may be available in the near term. Other resources will have to be built, perhaps by enhancing existing federal surveillance systems or constructing new ones. The article concludes with suggestions for immediate and longer-term actions that can strengthen public data resources in the service of reducing suicide in the U.S.

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Washington’s Marijuana Legalization Grows Knowledge, Not Just Pot

August 29, 2014 Comments off

Washington’s Marijuana Legalization Grows Knowledge, Not Just Pot
Source: Brookings Institution

Voters in Washington state decided in November 2012 to legalize marijuana in their state, inspired by a campaign that emphasized minimizing the drug’s social costs and tightly controlling the legal recreational market. Joined to this drug policy experiment is a second innovative experiment that emphasizes knowledge: the state will fund and develop tools necessary to understand the impact of legalization on Washington’s law enforcement officials, communities, and public health.

This second reform, though less heralded than the attention-grabbing fact of legalization, is in many ways just as bold. Washington’s government is taking its role as a laboratory of democracy very seriously, tuning up its laboratory equipment and devoting resources to tracking its experiment in an unusually meticulous way, with lessons that extend well beyond drug policy.

Spreading information on the risks of drug use: a European challenge

August 29, 2014 Comments off

Spreading information on the risks of drug use: a European challenge
Source: Eurobarometer

Young Europeans are less informed about the effects and risks of drugs than just a few years ago. While they widely use the Internet to gather knowledge, a new Eurobarometer survey shows that compared to 2011, respondents are less likely to have received such information from most sources, in particular from media campaigns and school prevention programmes.

More than one quarter of young people (29%) say they have not been informed at all in the past year about the effects and risks of so-called legal highs – currently legal substances that imitate the effects of illegal drugs. This comes at a time when the number of young people saying they have used ‘legal highs’ has risen to 8%, from 5% in 2011.

More than 13,000 citizens aged 15-24 were interviewed for the Eurobarometer “Young People and Drugs” across the EU. Drug use and drug-related problems continue to be a major concern for EU citizens. They are also a significant public health and public safety issue. According to studies by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), drug experimentation often starts in the school years, and it is estimated that one in four 15-16 year-olds have used an illicit drug. In recent years, the use of ‘legal-highs’ has become increasingly popular, and the European Commission is working to strengthen the EU’s ability to protect young people by reducing the availability of harmful substances, as part of an overall drug policy regulatory framework

Audit Report — Management of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Biosafety Laboratories

August 26, 2014 Comments off

Audit Report — Management of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Biosafety Laboratories (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General

Background
In response to the increase in infectious diseases and the threat of bioterrorism, the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories perform research with biological agents. To conduct this biological research, the Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) operate multiple laboratory facilities in accordance with various biosafety levels (BSL) established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The BSLs classify the containment level and risk associated with biological agents depending on the threat the agents pose to personnel and the environment. For example, BSL-1 is for low-risk agents; BSL-2 is for medium-risk agents; and BSL-3 is for those agents that cause serious and potentially lethal infections. Department and NNSA sites primarily perform BSL-1 and BSL-2 research; however, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) operates a facility with three BSL-3 laboratories while Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is considering opening a facility with two BSL-3 laboratories. Extensive biological research is performed at LLNL and LANL for other Government agencies through the Department’s Work for Others (WFO) program.

In our report on Coordination of Biological Select Agent Activities at Department of Energy Facilities (DOE/IG-0695, July 2005), we reported that the Department had not developed a plan for construction and operation of its BSL-3 laboratories. Thus, it lacked assurance that capabilities were not being duplicated unnecessarily. As a result of our prior work and Presidential actions to streamline Government and reduce costs, we initiated this audit to determine whether NNSA managed its biosafety laboratories effectively. We limited our review to biosafety laboratories located at LLNL and LANL.

Results of Audit
We found that NNSA was considering a $9.5 million expansion of its BSL-3 and BSL-2 laboratory capabilities at LANL that may not be the most effective use of resources. Specifically, NNSA identified the development of a BSL-3 facility at LANL as its preferred alternative for meeting biosafety laboratory needs even though it had not fully considered the need for and cost effectiveness of additional capacity. Nor, had it developed a sound basis for measuring the utilization of existing facilities – a critical factor in determining the need for additional capacity. Despite the lack of information on the need for additional capacity and current laboratory utilization rates, LANL was also considering building a new BSL-2 facility.

In particular, NNSA proposed development of a facility with two BSL-3 laboratories at LANL. Additionally, LANL is in the early planning stage for constructing a new BSL-2 facility. The estimated cost to open LANL’s new BSL-3 and to construct/open BSL-2 capabilities was about $1.5 million and $8 million, respectively. Given current budget realities, plans to develop additional capabilities without fully demonstrating a need may not be prudent.

CRS — Immigration Policies and Issues on Health-Related Grounds for Exclusion (August 13, 2014)

August 26, 2014 Comments off

Immigration Policies and Issues on Health-Related Grounds for Exclusion (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

News of humans infected with Ebola in West Africa, avian influenza in China, polio in the Middle East, and dengue fever in the Caribbean are examples of reports that heighten concerns about the health screenings of people arriving in the United States. Under current law, foreign nationals who wish to come to the United States generally must obtain a visa and submit to an inspection to be admitted. One of the reasons why a foreign national might be deemed inadmissible is on health-related grounds. The diseases that trigger inadmissibility in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) are those communicable diseases of public health significance as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Currently there are seven diseases deemed a communicable disease of public health significance: chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, infectious leprosy, lymphogranuloma venereum, active tuberculosis, and infectious syphilis. Other diseases incorporated by reference are cholera; diphtheria; infectious tuberculosis; plague; smallpox; yellow fever; viral hemorrhagic fevers (Lassa, Marburg, Ebola, Crimean-Congo, South American, and others not yet isolated or named); severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS); and “[i]nfluenza caused by novel or reemergent influenza viruses that are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic.”

Use of Sunscreen and Indoor Tanning Devices Among a Nationally Representative Sample of High School Students, 2001–2011

August 24, 2014 Comments off

Use of Sunscreen and Indoor Tanning Devices Among a Nationally Representative Sample of High School Students, 2001–2011
Source: Preventing Chronic Disease (CDC)

Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to engaging in poor skin-protection behaviors. The objective of this study was to examine use of sunscreen and indoor tanning devices among a nationally representative sample of high school students during a 10-year period (2001–2011) using data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. The percentage of youth who reported using sunscreen declined from 67.7% in 2001 to 56.1% in 2011. The prevalence of using indoor tanning devices was highest among white females: 37.4% in 2009 and 29.3% in 2011. These findings indicate the need for prevention efforts aimed at adolescents to reduce risks for skin cancer.

Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — United States, 2014–15 Influenza Season

August 15, 2014 Comments off

Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — United States, 2014–15 Influenza Season
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

This report updates the 2013 recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) regarding use of seasonal influenza vaccines (1). Updated information for the 2014–15 influenza season includes 1) antigenic composition of U.S. seasonal influenza vaccines; 2) vaccine dose considerations for children aged 6 months through 8 years; and 3) a preference for the use, when immediately available, of live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) for healthy children aged 2 through 8 years, to be implemented as feasible for the 2014–15 season but not later than the 2015–16 season. Information regarding issues related to influenza vaccination not addressed in this report is available in the 2013 ACIP seasonal influenza recommendations (1).

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