- Argentina's got a flu problem.
“We are facing a grave problem here,” said Dr. Jorge Yabkowski, the president of the Federation of Health Professionals of Argentina. “Hospitals here have very limited capacity to deal with this epidemic.”
On Wednesday, emergency rooms that normally receive 200 patients had to attend to 1,000, and in Buenos Aires Province the minister of health, Claudio Zin, said about 40 percent of health care workers were not showing up, either because they were ill or were concerned about catching the virus. The province had called up retired doctors and medical students to help out.
See Disasters, Surge and Pandemics. This could be us in the fall.
- Last Friday, I participated in a flu summit at NIH/National Library of Medicine. The all-day summit archive is on line here.
- A further WH and cabinet level summit will take place at NIH on July 9.
“Scientists and public health experts forecast that the impact of H1N1 may well worsen in the fall – when the regular flu season hits, or even earlier, when schools start to open – which is only five or six weeks away in some cases,” Secretary Sebelius said. “The goal of the Summit is to launch a national influenza campaign by bringing federal, state and local officials, emergency managers, educators and others together with the nation's public health experts to build on and tailor states' existing pandemic plans, share lessons learned and best practices during the spring and summer H1N1 wave, and discuss preparedness priorities.”
We'll see what comes out of it, but there's no question the fall will be a difficult time, and preparing now for potential school closures is prident and necessary. From CIDRAP:
Pandemicflu.gov and various health departments offer checklists on what individuals and families can do to get ready for a pandemic. They include:
· Learn about pandemic H1N1 influenza, its symptoms, how it spreads, and how to prevent infections.
· Stock up on water and non-perishable food. Although the recommendations vary from days' to months' worth, most experts agree it's important to have extra key supplies on hand.
· Ensure you have a supply of your prescription medicines.
· Keep other emergency and health supplies handy such as flashlights, manual can openers, face masks, and painkillers.
· Make a list of people who are willing to help and can be contacted in case of emergencies.
· Make plans for potential disruptions at work, curtailed social gatherings, and school closures (for example, is it possible to work from home if you are unable to go into work?).
Other useful skills for pandemic preparedness include learning how to care for the sick at home, rehydration therapy, and isolation measures, said, Joy Alexiou, public information officer for the Santa Clara Department of Public Health in California.
"Get things in order. Have the supplies in hand so you are not surprised when you go to the store and it's not there," said Alexiou, noting that in the first days of the HINI outbreak, some stores ran out of hand sanitizer.
Fall will be here in just a few short weeks.
The new president of the American Medical Association, which represents the interests of the nation’s doctors, said Wednesday the group is open to a government-funded health insurance option for people without coverage.
Dr. J. James Rohack told CNN that the AMA supports an “American model” that includes both “a private system and a public system, working together.”
In May, the AMA told a Senate committee it did not support a government-sponsored public health insurance option.
However, Kossack wbramh notes that the AMA's position is not so clear.
- Ezra on the HELP bill:
This goes back to my point the other day: For health reform in general and the public plan in particular, the composition of the health insurance exchanges is arguably the single most important policy question. The larger the exchanges, the more people who will have access to a competitive insurance market (including the public plan). But the easier you make it for employers to access the exchanges, the more health reform costs because more people use government subsidies, and the more people "lose" their current coverage because their employer buys into the exchange option.
- Kaiser.orgon Schumer and the public option:
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the key Senate Finance Committee and advocate for a government-run health insurance plan, said yesterday he would abandon all other possible compromises in favor of immediately creating a public plan that "would operate on 'a level playing field' with private insurers," CongressDaily reports. Other proposals have included a plan that would establish health insurance co-ops with government seed money or "trigger" the creation of a public plan only if private insurers fail to meet certain targets for containing costs and improving access.
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