Category Archives: Public health

Examining the ongoing destructive history of the mosquito

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: Gustavo Fernando Durán via Flickr

While the threat of mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S. has mostly faded since the Zika outbreak in 2016, Timothy Winegard warns that another one is probably around the corner, if history is any guide.

Winegard, a history professor at Colorado Mesa University, published an extensive history of the mosquito’s enduring and broad impact on the shape of geopolitics around the world, which demonstrates that the animal remains a threat to humanity. Continue reading

Research praising red meat is like … red meat for the masses: These studies need extra scrutiny

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Mitchell Gerskup via Flickr

“Too much red meat can cause cancer.” It’s a depressing statement for the bacon and beef lovers out there, but it’s a part of nearly every major medical organization’s evidence-based guidelines for several years.

In fact, as I was covering the North American Menopause Society’s annual meeting last weekend, the session on lifestyle risk factors for breast cancer specifically included limiting consumption of red meat and processed meats as one of the 10 recommendations for reducing cancer risk from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund. Continue reading

IG report: Some states fall short on oversight of surgery centers

Cheryl Clark

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is AHCJ's core topic leader for patient safety, a MedPage Today contributor and inewsource.org investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

Photo: Hospital UTPL via Flickr

Here’s a somewhat worrisome report from the Office of Inspector General.  Some two-thirds of the ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) in the nation are supposed to be surveyed for quality and safety issues by their state health agency, according to Medicare rules. But a troubling number of states seem to be ignoring their responsibility.

Since Medicare reimburses ASCs for certain approved procedures — including some that carry higher risks for complications — federal officials have set requirements for how often and how extensively those state agencies are supposed to inspect those facilities.  One could argue, and many have, that stricter standards should be put into place, but this report is just about the compliance of the ones that do exist. Continue reading

Public health podcasts explore infectious disease concerns

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

If you are covering infectious diseases and looking for ways to prioritize your story planning, consider scrolling through the list of podcasts hosted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

NACCHO represents public health officials throughout the country and its bi-monthly podcasts, hosted by Ian Goldstein, the organization’s government affairs specialist, touch on some of the most pressing infectious disease problems that keep top public health officials up at night. The concerns range from stemming the increase in sexually transmitted diseases to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance to a rise in Hepatitis A outbreaks. Continue reading

Resources for covering Hurricane Dorian and disaster preparedness

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Image: NOAA

As Hurricane Dorian reaches closer to landfall in Florida or southern Georgia this weekend, we’ve updated our list of resources to help reporters connect with public health officials and other sources.

Excessive flooding and damage to local health infrastructure means people will be dealing with the public health effects of the storm for a while.

Even if you’re not reporting on an affected location, this may be a good time to ask some questions of your local public health leaders and write about disaster preparedness issues. Here are some resources to help craft those questions: Continue reading

Covering a controversial study: How to dig deep on a deadline

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

From the moment I saw the study — and editorial and editor’s note — among JAMA’s embargoed studies, I knew it would be a doozy. Certain topics arouse controversy simply by their existence, and water fluoridation is very high on that list.

So when I was assigned to write about the JAMA Pediatrics study (Reminder: AHCJ members get free access to the JAMA Network.)  finding a link between prenatal fluoride exposure and reduced IQ in preschoolers, two things went through my mind: One, this is going to be covered horribly by some outlets and likely create unnecessary anxiety among parents, especially pregnant women (who have enough to worry about when it comes to do’s and don’ts). Two, I need to be one of those who gets it right. Continue reading