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PHI CEO Mary Pittman Named Expert Advisor to New Health Task Force Ordered by Governor Brown

June 07, 2012 | Anne Sunderland, MPH

Mary Pittman, DrPH, CEO of the Public Health Institute, has been named an Expert Advisor to the new Let's Get Healthy California Task Force.

The Task Force was established pursuant to an Executive Order issued by Governor Brown and is charged with developing a 10-year plan to make Californians healthier. The Task Force will be co-chaired by California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana Dooley and Don Berwick, who served as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services until December 2011. Members of the Task Force include leaders from multiple sectors, including healthcare, public health, government, education and labor.  more

The False Choice of Student Loans and Prevention

April 27, 2012 | Mary Pittman, DrPH

The House proposal to subsidize student loans by eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund, scheduled for a vote Friday, is just a continuation of political maneuvers designed to prioritize politics at the cost of health. America cannot afford to sacrifice the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

Affordable Care Act opponents have tried to pit much-needed infrastructure fixes and popular programs against the Prevention Fund as a means of undermining the ACA more broadly, from Medicare payments for doctors to tax relief for small businesses. Now they're using student loan subsidies to attack the Fund.  more

Kim's Nomination to Lead World Bank Brings Connections Between Global Health and Economic Development to Forefront

March 31, 2012 | Mary Pittman, DrPH

I am encouraged by President Obama's nomination of Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim, MD, PhD, to head the World Bank.

A physician and anthropologist, Dr. Kim's experience in global health would bring critically important insights to an institution that focuses on alleviating poverty. We can't achieve the Millennium Development goals or reduce poverty without addressing the fundamental importance of health. Dr. Kim would be the first World Bank president with a significant background in global health.  more

Lifting Our Voices to End Child Marriage in Malawi

March 08, 2012 | Emily Teitsworth

On International Women's Day, the majority of the more than 60 million child brides around the world will spend their time as they spend every other day of the year: out-of-school, at-risk, marginalized, and poor. The theme chosen by the United Nations for International Women's Day 2012 is "Empower Rural Women--End Hunger and Poverty."

At first glance, this has little to do with child marriage. But rural poverty is at the root of the high prevalence of early marriage (UNICEF, 2006). Within the context of traditions that devalue women, families often see girls as an economic burden or as a tool for relieving their debts. Over the last six months, staff of The Public Health Institute's (PHI) Adolescent Girls' Advocacy & Leadership Initiative (AGALI) have created a short film that explores the relationship between poverty, tradition, and child marriage in Malawi.  more

Cooking with Clean Energy--A Challenge of Global Proportions and a Tremendous Opportunity to Improve the Health of Women around the World

March 08, 2012 | Michelle Bashin

Each day, half of the world's families eat meals cooked on an open fire or a three-rock traditional stove. Women feed the fire with wood, dung, coal or crop waste, solid fuels that they've scavenged or purchased for a fraction of the cost of cooking gas or electricity. Flames convert these fuels into noxious smoke, gases, and particulates. Women and young children breathe high concentrations of these pollutants and often experience serious respiratory illnesses as a result. Clean energy for cooking and heating still lies well beyond their reach.

The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes nearly two million premature deaths worldwide each year to household air pollution from burning wood, charcoal, and other bio-fuel.  more

Depression Paradox for Immigrant Women in California

March 08, 2012 | Suzanne Ryan-Ibarra

One in eight California women experience current depression according to recently published research using data from the California Women's Health Survey (CWHS).

The study examined prevalence of depression according to immigrant status, and found that recent immigrants were half as likely to report current depression as compared to their counterparts born in the United States. As immigrant women stayed longer in the US, the odds of reporting current depression increased and the prevalence rate approached that of US-born women.  more

Gathering the Evidence for What Works for Women & Girls in HIV Interventions

March 08, 2012 | Melanie Croce-Galis

As the HIV pandemic rattles into its third decade, the impact on women and girls has not gone unnoticed. Numerous international political declarations including ICPD and the UNGASS Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS have recognized women's and girls' specific risks and needs and have committed to act to address them. Multilateral and bilateral donors have established strategies to better address women, girls, gender equality and HIV/AIDS including the PEPFAR Gender Strategy, the Global Fund's Gender Equality Strategy and USAID's recently launched gender policy and a number of countries have developed national action plans.

However, the funding and implementation of evidence-based programs for women and girls around the world continue to lag. There remains an urgent need to develop and scale up strategies to address the needs of women and girls in the global AIDS response and to support women as agents of change. To do this effectively, we need evidence.  more

Wise Farm-Bill Investments Could Help to Boost Economy and Health

March 07, 2012 | Matthew Marsom

Once again America is leading the world, but this time it's no cause for celebration. New obesity data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reveal that the United States has the highest obesity rate of all developed nations. What's more, the new data show that overall obesity rates in the United States climbed 4 percent to 5 percent over the last 10 years, with more Americans now overweight or obese than ever before.

Fortunately, a key fix to the obesity epidemic lies with the federal legislation that shapes and influences America's food supply: the U.S. farm bill.  more

PHI Urges Action to Protect Prevention and Public Health Fund

February 15, 2012 | Mary Pittman, DrPH

Unfortunately, Congressional proposals to gut the Prevention and Public Health Fund reemerged this morning.

Congress is considering cutting the Prevention Fund by up to $5 billion over ten years to avoid massive cuts to Medicare physicians. As I said in my blog last December, when a similar proposal was on the table, this tactic is not only bad for the nation's health, it's fiscally irresponsible. The Prevention Fund supports evidence- and community-based interventions across the U.S. to prevent chronic disease, which currently accounts for 75% of all Medicare spending.  more

PHI's Elizabeth Emerson Honored by Marin Human Rights Commission, U.S. House of Representatives for Work Creating Smoke-Free Environments for Childre

January 27, 2012 | Anne Sunderland, MPH

On January 17, 2012, the Public Health Institute's Elizabeth Emerson received the 2011 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Marin County Human Rights Commission for her advocacy in California and around the world to advance the right of children to live in smoke-free environments. She also received Certificates of Special Recognition from the California State Assembly, California State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Emerson co-leads PHI's Smoke-Free International Training Program with PHI colleague Dr. Theo Tsoukalas.  more

Affordable Care Act is Creating an America "Built to Last": PHI CEO Mary Pittman Responds to the President's State of the Union Speech

January 25, 2012 | Mary Pittman, DrPH

President Obama presented an inspiring vision for the future in his State of the Union speech: Our country will build a thriving and sustainable economy, give every American a fair shot at success, and use common sense regulations to protect citizens from the worst corporate abuses.

Despite the lack of direct attention to health in this speech, I was reminded of the great strides that have already been made to achieve this vision because of the Affordable Care Act. Because of the ACA, there is an unprecedented commitment to tackling a significant drain on our economy--skyrocketing healthcare costs--through Prevention.  more

Take Action to Protect Prevention Funding - or We Will Pay in the Long Run

December 13, 2011 | Mary Pittman, DrPH

As the curtain falls on 2011, Congress is struggling to complete its unfinished business, including finalizing the federal budget for 2012, and, once again, public health is being shortchanged. A recent payroll tax proposal released by House Republicans would cut the Prevention and Public Health Fund by 68% to avoid a scheduled 27% cut in payments to Medicare physicians.

While slashing current Medicare provider reimbursements would be devastating and could cause millions of low-income Americans to lose their healthcare provider, the proposed solution to gut the Prevention Fund to cover the cost is not only shortsighted and bad for the nation's health, it's fiscally irresponsible.  more

Why the International Climate Negotiations in Durban Matter for Women

December 07, 2011 | Mary Pittman, DrPH

This has been a year of unprecedented weather-related disasters, at home, and around the world. The world's leading climate scientists have proclaimed these disasters related to climate change, and have told us to expect more severe, frequent extreme weather events.

Who bears the brunt of the increasingly steep costs of "global weirding" as the world's weather goes haywire? Women and their children. And who may be the key to stopping global warming, and to helping communities around the world adapt to the damage that has already been done? Yes, women too.  more

Enhancing Women's Leadership to Address the Challenges of Climate Change on Nutrition Security and Health

November 29, 2011 | Cristina Tirado

Women serve as agents of social change and development, through their unique roles in the family and child care, agricultural labor, food and nutrition security, health, and disaster risk reduction. However women are poorly represented in consultation and decision-making processes for the development of climate change adaptation strategies--at the local, national, and global levels. Promoting their engagement and leadership is critical to addressing climate change in equitable, healthy, and sustainable ways.  more

Let Them Eat... Pizza?

November 24, 2011 | Matthew Marsom

It's that time of year again when Americans gather together to give thanks, celebrate family and friendship, and, of course, enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving feast. As you come to the table in the coming days I don't question that you'll know your turkey from your green beans and your dinner rolls from your Brussels sprouts. As for members of Congress? Well, maybe not so much.

In fact, our elected representatives in Washington, DC, seem to have a lot of trouble understanding the difference between healthy fresh fruits and vegetables, and processed school lunch pizza.  more

While "Patchwork for Progress" Report Offers Promise, Strengthening Efforts on Creating Healthy Communities is Key

November 15, 2011 | Genoveva Islas-Hooker, MPH

Obesity rates among California's children and youth have been rising at alarming rates over the years, however a new study, A Patchwork of Progress: Changes in Overweight and Obesity Among California 5th, 7th, and 9th Graders, 2005-2010, indicates that California is making progress.

In some counties, and across the state on average, childhood obesity rates have declined. However, the study also demonstrates that some counties in the San Joaquin Valley continue to fair poorly. In some counties in California's San Joaquin Valley, we are seeing over 43% of students in the 5th, 7th, and 9th grade who are overweight or obese. This is largely due to the pervasive poverty in this region, density of unhealthy foods, and the lack of access to green spaces.  more

Will Renewed Attention to Climate Change Bring Back Population Control?

October 31, 2011 | PHI Center for Public Health and Climate Change

Who's afraid of climate change? Well, I am. And not necessarily for the reasons you may think. I'm afraid that the recent, much-deserved attention to climate change will revive some of the old alarmist debates on population. And with those debates, I'm worried that the specter of population control will rear its ugly head again.

You see, as a woman of color, I am particularly sensitive to population control arguments. After all, claims of "overpopulation" usually target women who look like me.  more

Non Communicable Disease: Urbanization's Darker Side

October 30, 2011 | Jeff Meer

Seven billion people are walking the earth, and for the first time in human history, more than half of us are living in cities. This doesn't necessarily mean that all of us are living healthier lives, however. The toll of non communicable diseases (NCDs) is rising rapidly, especially among the poor, cutting a devastating swath into economic productivity in many nations.

NCDs-- primarily cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, chronic lung disease and mental illness--are already responsible for more than two thirds of all deaths globally. No country or region is immune.  more

GOJoven: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders in Sexual and Reproductive Health

October 29, 2011 | Anya Gutman

The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994 helped us to realize that to ensure a sustainable, healthy planet, we must take a more comprehensive and rights-based notion of sexual and reproductive health. This broader approach includes not just family planning but also maternal and infant health, prevention of gender-based violence, empowerment of women, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

The GOJoven program shares this commitment to improving sexual and reproductive health from a comprehensive, rights based perspective. GOJoven is contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to which the international community agreed in 2000, by educating, empowering and training young people in Central America and southern Mexico to assume leadership roles in their communities to improve the health and lives of adolescents, youth, women, men, and children.  more

Older and Wiser: How Technology Can Help Aging Patients

October 28, 2011 | David Lindeman, PhD

We are getting noticeably older as a country. Mainly because of aging baby boomers, by 2030, about one fifth of the American population will be 65 years or older. And if present trends continue, by 2050, there will be more than 88 million in that age group. The very old are growing even faster -- the 85 and older population is expected to more than triple, from 5.4 million to 19 million, between 2008 and 2050.

Older people have specific health needs, and one of the most vexing issues in the healthcare industry in the United States today is finding how best to deliver care to them. Fortunately technology is providing some of the answers, and it's no longer in the realm of future technology -- it is already available in the form of remote monitoring, telehealth, electronic health records, assistive technologies, telemedicine, mobile health, and distance learning, among others.  more

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