Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

8/21/1986: An eruption of lethal gas from Lake Nyos in Cameroon kills nearly 2,000 people and wipes out four villages.

History Channel

 


8/24/2003: A major outage knocked out power across the eastern United States and parts of Canada. Beginning at 4:10 p.m. ET, 21 power plants shut down in just three minutes. Fifty million people were affected, including residents of New York, Cleveland and Detroit, as well as Toronto and Ottawa, Canada.

History Channel

 


Electricity was restored Sunday to tens of thousands of customers (affected 140,000 customers at its worst) who lost service when a power station in suburban Los Angeles caught fire amid a blistering heat wave.

ABC

 


Heat-related mortality in India between 1960 and 2009

ScienceAdvances

“….[B]etween 1960 and 2009, [m]ean temperatures across India have risen by more than 0.5°C….., with statistically significant increases in heat waves. Using a novel probabilistic model…..the increase in summer mean temperatures in India over this period corresponds to a 146% increase in the probability of heat-related mortality events of more than 100 people…..”

 

 


In Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, 26 states and Washington, D.C. scored a six or lower on 10 key indicators of public health preparedness.

TFAH

Ready or Not? examines the nation’s ability to respond to public health emergencies, tracks progress and vulnerabilities, and includes a review of state and federal public health preparedness policies. Some key findings include:

  • 26 states increased or maintained funding for public health from Fiscal Year (FY) 2014-2015 to FY 2015-2016.
  • Just 10 states vaccinated at least half of their population (ages 6 months and older) against the seasonal flu during the 2015-2016 flu season (from July 2015 to May 2016).
  • 45 states and Washington, D.C. increased the speed of DNA fingerprinting using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) testing for all reported cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157, a measure of a state’s ability to detect foodborne outbreaks.
  • 10 states have a formal access program or a program in progress for getting private sector healthcare staff and supplies into restricted areas during a disaster.
  • 30 states and Washington, D.C. met or exceeded the overall national average score (6.7) of the National Health Security Preparedness Index (as of 2016).
  • 32 states and Washington, D.C. received a grade of C or above in States at Risk: America’s Preparedness Report Card, a national assessment of state-level preparedness for climate change-related threats – which have an impact on human health.

In addition, the report examined trends in public health preparedness over the last 15 years, finding successes and ongoing concerns.

  • One-third of funds for health security and half of funds for healthcare system preparedness have been cut: Health emergency preparedness funding for states has been cut from $940 million in fiscal year (FY) 2002 to $660 million in FY 2016; and healthcare system preparedness funding for states has been cut by more than half since FY 2005 – down to $255 million.
  • Some major areas of accomplishment: Improved emergency operations, communication and coordination; support for the Strategic National Stockpile and the ability to distribute medicines and vaccines during crises; major upgrades in public health labs and foodborne illness detection capabilities; and improvements in legal and liability protections during emergencies.
  • Some major ongoing gaps: Lack of a coordinated, interoperable, near real-time biosurveillance system; insufficient support for research and development of new medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to keep pace with modern threats; gaps in the ability of the healthcare system to care for a mass influx of patients during a major outbreak or attack; and cuts to the public health workforce across states.

The Ready or Not? report provides a series of recommendations that address many of the major gaps in emergency health preparedness, including:

  • Requiring strong, consistent baseline public health Foundational Capabilities in regions, states and communities-so that everyone is protected.
  • Ensuring stable, sufficient health emergency preparedness funding to maintain a standing set of foundational capabilities alongside a complementary Public Health Emergency Fund which would provide immediate surge funding during an emergency.
  • Improving federal leadership before, during and after disasters – including at the White House level.
  • Recruiting and training a next generation public health workforce with expert scientific abilities to harness and use technological advances along with critical thinking and management skills to serve as the Chief Health Strategist for a community.
  • Reconsidering health system preparedness for new threats and mass outbreaks by developingstronger coalitions and partnerships among providers, hospitals, insurance providers, pharmaceutical and health equipment businesses, emergency management, and public health agencies.
  • Prioritizing efforts to address one of the most serious threats to human health by expanding efforts to stop Superbugs and antibiotic resistance.
  • Improving rates of vaccinations for children and adults – which are one of the most effective public health tools against many infectious diseases.

Ready or Not? was released annually from 2003-2012, and more recently, TFAH has released Outbreaks: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases, from 2013-2015.The report was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Score Summary:

A full list of all of the indicators and scores and the full report are available on TFAH’s website. For the state-by-state scoring, states received one point for achieving an indicator or zero points if they did not achieve the indicator. Zero is the lowest possible overall score, 10 is the highest. The data for the indicators are from publicly available sources or were provided from public officials.

10 out of 10: Massachusetts

9 out of 10: North Carolina and Washington

8 out of 10: California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, Tennessee and Virginia

7 out of 10: Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin

6 out of 10: Arizona, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Vermont

5 out of 10: Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and West Virginia

4 out of 10 Nevada and Wyoming

3 out of 10: Alaska and Idaho


WHO: Don’t pollute my future! The impact of the environment on children’s health

WHO

Don’t pollute my future! The impact of the environment on children’s health

Cover: Don’t pollute my future! The impact of the environment on children’s health

Background

In 2015, 5.9 million children under age five died. The major causes of child deaths globally are pneumonia, prematurity, intrapartum-related complications, neonatal sepsis, congenital anomalies, diarrhoea, injuries and malaria. Most of these diseases and conditions are at least partially caused by the environment. It was estimated in 2012 that 26% of childhood deaths and 25% of the total disease burden in children under five could be prevented through the reduction of environmental risks such as air pollution, unsafe water, sanitation and inadequate hygiene or chemicals.

Children are especially vulnerable to environmental threats due to their developing organs and immune systems, smaller bodies and airways. Harmful exposures can start as early as in utero. Furthermore, breastfeeding can be an important source of exposure to certain chemicals in infants; this should, however, not discourage breastfeeding which carries numerous positive health and developmental effects (4). Proportionate to their size, children ingest more food, drink more water and breathe more air than adults. Additionally, certain modes of behaviour, such as putting hands and objects into the mouth and playing outdoors can increase children’s exposure to environmental contaminants.

 


WHO: Inheriting a sustainable world: Atlas on children’s health and the environment

WHO

Overview

More than a decade after WHO published Inheriting the world: The atlas of children’s health and the environment in 2004, this new publication presents the continuing and emerging challenges to children’s environmental health.

This new edition is not simply an update but a more detailed review; we take into account changes in the major environmental hazards to children’s health over the last 13 years, due to increasing urbanization, industrialization, globalization and climate change, as well as efforts in the health sector to reduce children’s environmental exposures. Inheriting a sustainable world? Atlas on children’s health and the environment aligns with the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, launched in 2015, in stressing that every child deserves the opportunity to thrive, in safe and healthy settings.

This book seeks to promote the importance of creating sustainable environments and reducing the exposure of children to modifiable environmental hazards. The wide scope of the SDGs offers a framework within which to work and improve the lives of all children. To this end, we encourage further data collection and tracking of progress on the SDGs, to show the current range of global environmental hazards to children’s health and identify necessary action to ensure that no one is left behind.


E-Waste: What is it and how is it impacting our world?

VOA

“…..electronic or e-waste were posing great dangers for children.

”Most of our old computers and electronic material will end up in some place in the African continent where then you put a group of moms to remove certain pieces of that material, particularly heavy metals to recycle them for making some dollars,” she [Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health] said. “The problem is that the mothers will go there with their own children.”

She added that exposing children to toxins can lead to reduced intelligence, attention deficits, lung damage and cancer.

Electronic and electrical waste is forecast to increase by 19% between 2014 and 2018, to 50 million metric tons by 2018…..”


Environmental pollution kills more than 1 in 4 children under the age of five every year – that’s 1.7 million children worldwide.

VOA

“…..air pollution is the biggest killer and is responsible for 6.5 million premature deaths every year, including nearly 600,000 deaths among children under age five……”

 


12/6/1907-The worst mining disaster in American history: In West Virginia’s Marion County, an explosion in a network of mines in Monongah kills 361 coal miners.

History Channel

 


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