President Barack Obama has declared the week of September 11-16, 2011 as National Health Information Technology Week. See the official proclamation at Presidential Proclamation – National Health Information Technology Week. In addition, the 2008 Federal Strategic Health IT Plan has been updated to meet the new realities for health IT and IT policies. See more on the Federal Strategic Health IT Plan: 2011-2015 at the Health IT Buzz Blog Post.
Presidential Proclamation – National Health Information Technology Week
Public and Medical Library Team Up for Consumer Health Information
Working in partnership with the Alamo Area Library System (AALS), the UT Health Science Center Briscoe Library recently provided a health information presentation for the Universal City Public Library. Promoting the use of public libraries for consumer health information is part of an effort to address the information needs of growing numbers of Texas residents who are being diagnosed with diabetes. National Library of Medicine resources such as MedlinePlus and NIHSenior Health were demonstrated for attendees as examples of reliable sources of diabetes information.
Recent study finds that U.S. Latinos have increased risk of vision disorders
Research conducted through the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES) and reported by the NIH has found that Latinos have higher rates of developing visual impairment, blindness, diabetic eye disease, and cataracts than non-Hispanic whites. Research participants were primarily of Mexican descent over 40 years old. During the four year study period, researchers found the following:
- Latinos developed visual impairment and blindness at the highest rate of any ethnic group in the country, when compared with estimates from other U.S. population-based studies. Overall, nearly 3 percent of Latinos developed visual impairment and 0.3 percent developed blindness in both eyes, with older adults impacted more frequently. Of Latinos age 80 and older, 19.4 percent became visually impaired, and 3.8 percent became blind in both eyes.
- U.S. Latinos were also more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than non-Hispanic whites. Over the four-year period, 34 percent of Latinos who had diabetes developed diabetic retinopathy, with Latinos aged 40 to 59 having the highest rate. Though increasing age did not play a role, Latinos with a longer duration of diabetes were more likely to develop the disease. In fact, 42 percent of Latinos with diabetes for more than 15 years developed diabetic retinopathy. Also, among participants who had diabetic retinopathy at the beginning of the study, 39 percent showed worsening of the disease four years later.
Read the complete NIH News (May 1, 2010) at http://www.nih.gov/news/health/may2010/nei-01.htm.
Renewed MOU for Cross-Border Public Health
At the annual meeting of the Border Health Commission in McAllen earlier this week, Mike Leavitt and Jose Angel Cordova signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that updates previous agreements from 1996 and 2001 that focus on strengthening cross-border public health collaborations. “The United States enjoys a solid friendship with Mexico, and our two nations are stronger when we work together to improve the health of our citizens,” Leavitt said. “A commitment to the health and safety of our nations, and to the spirit of cooperation, provides opportunities for growth in science, cross-cultural training, health care delivery and the protection of our people.”
Resignation of 16 ER Physicians at Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen
From the Valley Morning Star (and with thanks to Monica Tovar).
Responding to the Epidemic: Strategies for Improving Diabetes Care in Texas
An alarming rate of increase is projected for the incidence of diabetes in Texas over the next 30 years. Based on statistics from the Office of the State Demographer, Texas will see an increase of 156,000 new cases of diabetes each year. A newly released report from the Texas Health Institute (THI) recommends a plan of action to curtail these predictions. According to the report, “The State Demographer projects a quadrupling of the number of adult Texans with diabetes from approximately 2.2 million in 2010 to almost 8 million by 2040.” Counties in the Texas border region are expected to be particularly hard hit. Given that rates of diabetes in Hispanic populations are higher than the national average, “There are a large number of Hispanic residents at high-risk of developing diabetes, particularly in South Texas, where obesity rates are very high and insurance coverage is very low.”
Richard Carmona: Obesity a Threat to US Security
Speaking at a conference in San Antonio on Thursday, former surgeon general Richard Carmona characterized obesity as a threat to national security (reported in Express-News).
Salmonella identified in Texas / New Mexico
Earlier this week, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported on 35 confirmed cases Saintpaul strain of the Salmonella. Counties with confirmed cases are: Bell, Cameron, Dallas (4), Fort Bend, Harris (15), Hays (4), Jim Wells, Nueces (5), San Patricio, Tarrant, and Travis.
Specific types and source of tomatoes are still under investigation.
At this time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising that people in New Mexico and Texas limit their raw tomato consumption to cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached and tomatoes grown at home. Raw tomatoes often are used in fresh salsa, guacamole or pico de gallo.
San Antonio Marketing Campaign Will Promote Healthy Lifestyles
According to a July 7 article in the San Antonio Business Journal, The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has contracted with Interlex, a locally-headquartered, Hispanic-owned advertising agency, to develop a marketing campaign aimed at combating obesity and improving the overall health of the city. Metro Health will finance the project with $1 million in funds from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiative.
All together, the Centers for Disease Control awarded the city more than $15.6 million for programs aimed at reducing the risk of chronic disease. Other projects supported by the grant will make the city safer and more accessible for bike riders, develop farmer’s markets in communities with health disparities, and build partnerships with school districts, parks, faith-based organizations and universities to allow public use of recreational facilities to promote active lifestyles.
San Antonio receives federal grant to fight childhood obesity
San Antonio, where a recent study showed that 30% of children aged eight to ten are obese, has received a 15.6 million dollar federal grant funded through government stimulus money that will be used to fight childhood obesity. The funding, announced on Friday, March 19 and discussed in the San Antonio Express News on March 20, will focus on both increased physical activity and education to make better choices. The funding will be spent to
- Establish the “Active Living Council of San Antonio”
- Implement a “Ride to Own” bicycle fleet program
- Create an Internet-based health and wellness portal
- Train schools to improve physical education and food choices for their students
- Expand the Healthy Menu initiative in area restaurants
- Increase the number of safe crosswalks and intersections