Stopping the syndemic: Covid-19 plus other debilitating and deadly diseases

first_img Related: Ten steps to ethics-based governance of AI in health care @VasNarasimhan First OpinionStopping the syndemic: Covid-19 plus other debilitating and deadly diseases By Vas Narasimhan Dec. 30, 2020 Reprints Trending Now: About the Author Reprints Vas Narasimhan With Covid-19 vaccines beginning to be distributed in the United States and other countries, and with health care professionals more knowledgeable about the virus, there’s hope we’ll be able to manage the new spike in cases and chart a course to recovery. But it will take a lot more than that to undo the damage this pandemic has caused.As the pandemic rips across the world, taking lives and devouring health resources and economies, it is also creating a void in which other debilitating and deadly diseases are left undiagnosed and untreated. That means we aren’t merely facing a once-in-a-century pandemic. We’re facing a syndemic: the confluence of several epidemics.In the U.S. alone, more than 40% of Americans have reported postponing medical care due to Covid-19. Preventive cancer screenings have plummeted during the pandemic, along with visits to ambulatory practices. Vaccination rates for diseases like mumps and measles are also down. Other countries report similar trends.advertisement But these advances shouldn’t disappear once the Covid-19 emergency is over. Policymakers need to ensure a supportive policy framework that maximizes the potential for telehealth. Public and private insurers should recognize and cover patients’ use of telehealth services on par with in-person visits to a doctor’s office. And antiquated and prohibitive laws restricting clinicians from practicing across state lines and with the full scope of their practices must be reassessed.The syndemic also provides opportunities to use new smartphone applications, wearable devices, and software platforms driven by artificial intelligence to improve detection, treatment and contact tracing for Covid-19 as well as to enable massive leaps forward in patient-centered and remote care. Public-private partnerships like the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development are working to expand access to these innovations.More broadly, the global health community needs to collectively support health systems in low- and middle-income countries, which are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and other streams of the syndemic. As long as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, continues to spread in some of these countries, it will continue to pose a global threat. The good news is that these countries, which have historically grappled with systemic challenges such as shortages of health workers and medical supplies, poor access to medical information, and rapid urbanization, have the most to gain from innovative health technologies and are often quite nimble at adopting them.Take São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, where one in four people live with cardiovascular disease. Working with the Novartis Foundation, a philanthropic organization supported by the company I lead, the city implemented the country’s first digital training on heart disease for health care workers and pharmacists. It involved various topics including improving blood pressure measurement, hypertension diagnosis, and patient empowerment. It used digital technology to bring screening services into communities where people live, rather than have them trek to doctors’ offices or medical centers. This program tripled the number of people treated for high blood pressure.Then, when Covid-19 hit, the city worked quickly to develop an artificial intelligence application that is now being used to screen people for Covid-19 in hospitals across the country, freeing up health workers to provide critical in-person care. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Comparing the Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson To address these unmet needs and meet the syndemic head on, we need to reimagine our approach to health care. Digital health technology can help cover a large percentage of patients’ needs, such as routine consultations, screening for many diseases, and follow-ups after some surgical procedures, to name a few, though certainly not all of it: a clinician can’t deliver a baby or administer a vaccine over Zoom. Middle-income countries aren’t the only ones poised to benefit from a tech-driven revolution in health care. So are some of the lowest-income countries in the world. A virtual health consulting service in Rwanda already covers one-third of the adult population. Hospitals in India are using artificial intelligence to predict heart attacks several years before they happen. And the Africa Medical Supplies Platform integrates African and global medical suppliers through a central, online hub to ensure cost-effectiveness and transparency in procuring and distributing health supplies.The global health community must encourage and support government investments that mainstream these initiatives, as they are vital to increasing access to care.As a physician-scientist who led efforts to produce a successful vaccine for the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and who has helped develop more than 30 vaccines and novel medicines, I’ve been truly amazed at the rapid progress industry, governments, and nonprofit organizations are making on Covid-19 therapies and vaccines. But narrow management of the crisis risks neglecting other important population health needs.Policymakers and the global health community must accelerate the digital revolution in health, pursue community-based care models, and support data-driven health solutions in low- and middle-income countries. With quick, coordinated action, we can save more lives from being taken by the syndemic.Vas Narasimhan, a physician-scientist, is the CEO of Novartis. The U.S. government has recognized this opportunity, dedicating several hundred million dollars to support telehealth programs through the pandemic with targeted support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to cover rural areas.advertisement Tags Coronavirusglobal healthHealth ITlast_img read more

Lawsuit hangs over SMMUSD board

first_imgHomeNewsEducationLawsuit hangs over SMMUSD board May. 18, 2016 at 6:15 amEducationLawsuit hangs over SMMUSD boardJeff Goodman5 years agoAmerica Unites and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibilitycaliforniacity of santa monicaEPAgail pinskerlawsuitLos AngelesNewsolympic high schoolsandra lyonSanta Monicasanta monica californiasanta monica newssmmusd The school year is drawing to a close, but the battle over chemical cleanup in Malibu rages on.The local Board of Education is scheduled to spend half an hour of its closed session before Thursday’s meeting discussing with counsel the lawsuit brought against the Santa Monica-Malibu school district by parent groups and environmental activists.The closed session comes two days after the suit filed by America Unites and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility went to trial in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Downtown Los Angeles.The court on Tuesday determined that no live testimony would be heard from board members Craig Foster and Oscar de la Torre, according to a statement from SMMUSD spokeswoman Gail Pinsker. Foster and de la Torre are both named as defendants in the suit, but both have been critical of the district on environmental issues.Post-trial papers will soon be filed by the plaintiffs and defendants, according to the district.The plaintiffs, who have criticized the district for its handling of environmental testing and cleanup at Malibu schools, are seeking immediate removal of polychlorinated biphenyls following the discovery of the potentially hazardous chemicals more than two years ago. The district has since spent millions of dollars on consultants and legal fees.“We are committed to … exposing the truth about PCBs in Malibu schools and putting officials across the country on notice that parents will not stand for their kids being poisoned in their classrooms,” America Unites leader Jennifer deNicola, a Malibu parent, has said.The district has maintained that it is adhering to federal guidelines and argues that the plaintiffs’ concerns are misdirected.“We are confident that we are following the law and directions of the Environmental Protection Agency and that our classrooms are safe for teachers and students based on EPA health-protective thresholds,” Pinsker said in a pre-trial statement.“The plaintiffs in this lawsuit disagree with EPA’s regulation of school properties, and want to change the law. That dispute is not one for the district. As a regulated government body bound to follow the direction of the lead federal agency and established science, the school district shall continue to act in the best interest of its staff, students and teachers.”The first trial date came in the wake of Lyon’s announcement that she’s stepping down as SMMUSD superintendent June 30. She has accepted an offer to serve as the top administrator for the Palm Springs Unified School District starting July 1.Olympic upgradesThe modernization of Olympic High School appears to be moving forward.The school board is expected to award the major project to Chatsworth-based Novus Construction, which submitted the lowest bid for the job at $5.6 million.The district advertised the opportunity in mid-March, held job walks March 30-31 and received bids for the project in late April. In May, the district determined that Novus was the most affordable option.Novus has worked on several other education and community facilities, according to its website, including a pool and classroom building at Diamond Bar High School, a multimedia training facility at Whitney High School in Cerritos and a sustainable science building at Westridge School in Pasadena.Plans for upgrades at the district’s continuation campus were previously approved by the Division of the State Architect, a California oversight agency.Officials have said they hope the project is complete before the start of the 2017-18 school year, and it’s anticipated that the campus will be closed this summer.The renovations at Olympic are being funded by Measure BB, a $268-million bond approved by voters in [email protected] :America Unites and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibilitycaliforniacity of santa monicaEPAgail pinskerlawsuitLos AngelesNewsolympic high schoolsandra lyonSanta Monicasanta monica californiasanta monica newssmmusdshare on Facebookshare on Twitteradd a commentStamp Out Hunger Food Drive ‘tremendous success’ for Westside Food BankBusiness groups hope Expo will deliver economic gainsYou Might Also LikeBriefsNewsBeach House Begins Community Re-Opening June 15Guest Author2 days agoBriefsNewsInput Invited for Marine Park Improvement ProjectsGuest Author2 days agoBriefsNewsPublic Health Emphasizes the Importance of Vaccinations as Distancing and Masking Guidelines Relax Next WeekGuest Author2 days agoBriefsNews“Righting Our Wrongs” performance on June 11Guest Author2 days agoBriefsNewsSEATTLE Feds plan to curtail West Coast salmon fishing to help orcasGuest Author2 days agoColumnsFeaturedNewsOpinionWhat’s the Point?whats the pointGAY PRIDE MONTH IS HERE FOR ALL OF USDavid Pisarra2 days agolast_img read more

‘Ovarian cancer bus’ revealed

first_imgA bus highlighting the symptoms of ovarian cancer has been launched by Lothian Buses, following campaigning by Lothian engineering worker Colin Barclay – who lost his wife Jill to ovarian cancer.He was voted Lothian’s Unsung Hero at the company’s People Awards, and part of his award was to receive his very own bus to help his campaign to raise awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms.The operator launched the “ovarian cancer bus” in partnership with the charity, Target Ovarian Cancer.last_img