November 7, 2017 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 0Comment

More than 12,000 public health researchers, advocates and policy makers have converged on Atlanta for the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA). Participants are taking advantage of hundreds of scientific sessions and sharing their research on the latest public health topics. I’ll be sharing highlights from each day’s events, courtesy of the APHA Annual Meeting blog.

On Sunday evening, a scheduled “Town Hall on the Gun Violence Epidemic” took on special meaning. Just a few hours earlier, a gunman shot dozens of people at a church in Texas, killing 26 of them. Led by past APHA Presidents Linda DeGutis and Carmen Nevarez as well as Debbie Azrael, a researcher at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, the gathering emphasized the need for public health workers to initiate conversations on how to keep people safe in communities where guns are present — especially between people with differing views on gun ownership. Comments from the audience began on a heartbreaking note when a member of APHA’s Oral Health Section shared that her loved ones were among those who perished in the Texas church shooting. Continue reading

Firearm injuries becoming more severe: New research revealed that the severity of firearm injuries has increased over the past 20 years, among those hospitalized for their injuries. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine noted that their findings have broad implications for public health beyond increased suffering on the individual level. The study used hospitalization data from 44 states between 1993 and 2013 to measure trends in firearm injury. Data showed firearm injury severity increased each year, and was driven by a large increase in serious open fractures and a decline in minor injuries. Continue reading

Women are disproportionately affected by catastrophes: Women’s health took the forefront as researchers and practitioners explored what they called “the feminization of poverty” and the impact of climate change and natural disasters on women. Public health experts won’t be surprised to find out that climate change and natural disasters disproportionately affect at-risk populations. But they may be shocked to find out how the systems (or lack of them) set up to prevent disasters, as well as the systems designed to address them, continually disadvantage women — again and again — feeding into a cycle of poor health and economic outcomes. Continue reading

Climate change and vector-borne disease. The Americas are facing big challenges related to arboviral diseases and, if predictions are correct, North America must prepare for more infections like those seen in the Miami- and Houston-area Zika outbreaks of 2016. Temperature and rainfall are important drivers of arboviral disease transmission, affecting mosquito breeding sites as well as vector and virus development rates. Changes in climate are projected to increase global temperatures and the amount of heavy rainfall events in some regions, which can consequently increase the risk from arboviral diseases. “Public health officials and climate experts must collaborate,” said speaker Madeleine Thomson, senior research scientist at Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society. “We need to use climate information to improve the timing and targeting of our interventions, because the geographical distribution and number of cases is growing.” Continue reading

Black Mamas Matter: Maternal deaths a ‘human rights crisis.’ How can we address the tragedy of rising maternal mortality in the U.S. as well as a widening disparity between black and white women? Make reproductive justice a priority and ensure black women have a voice when it comes to the policies that impact their health care, said presenters at a packed Monday afternoon session. Continue reading

Bringing children’s eye health into clearer focus. When we talk about learning challenges affecting school-age children, conditions like dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity often come to mind. But vision and eye health? Not so much, even though one-quarter of kids have an unrecognized vision problem. That means many kids are struggling when an easy solution could literally be right before their eyes. At a Monday afternoon session on children and eye health, presenters said we’re doing a huge disservice to our kids by not making vision screening a bigger priority, especially since vision problems can have a huge impact on kids’ health, wellness and academic success. The session’s big message was crystal clear: Improving kids’ vision is both a public health and educational concern that needs a closer look.  Continue reading

The documentary “From the Ashes” kicked off this year’s APHA Global Public Health Film Festival. The film — by Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio — originally premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and explores the U.S. coal mining industry’s impact on communities across the nation. …“It’s not jobs versus the environment,” said Sydney Beaumont, the film’s producer, during a panel discussion following the viewing. “It’s about changing the tone of the conversation to a just transition from coal to clean energy. Steps are being taken in the right direction — despite the current political climate. Renewable energy has created 25,000 jobs so far and solar, wind and geothermal technology and jobs are growing.”  Continue reading

Catch up on all the news from the APHA Annual Meeting here


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