Health Care Worries Top Terrorism, By Far, In Americans’ Minds

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

This article was originally published in on February 8, 2017.


Health care is the top concern of American families, according to a Monmouth University Poll conducted in the week prior to Donald Trump’s Presidential inauguration.

Among U.S. consumers’ top ten worries, eight in ten directly point to financial concerns — with health care costs at the top of the worry-list for 25% of people. Health care financial worries led the second place concern, job security and unemployment, by a large margin (11 percentage points) In third place was “everyday bills,” the top concern for 12% of U.S. adults.

Immigration was the top worry for only 3% of U.S. adults; terrorism and national security represented 2% of the American public’s concerns.

In the 2015 Monmouth Poll, 15% said health care was their family’s main worry. Today, this issue is #1 for families across income categories and party affiliation. (more…)

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Hostels for Hope: Easing the Burden for Women with Cancer

This article was originally published on on February 2, 2017.

Sarah* is a 46-year-old mother of five and a cervical cancer survivor living in Tanzania. Survival wasn’t easy. She had to travel over 300 miles from her village to one of only two treatment facilities in the entire country; once she got there, she had no place to stay. Like Sarah, many of the over 10,000 Tanzanian women diagnosed with cervical or breast cancer each year face two major challenges – how to pay for transportation to the capital, Dar es Salaam, and where to stay for the duration of their treatment. For some women, the challenge is too great and they have no choice but to stay home and die. Others, like Sarah, make the difficult trip to the hospital, and struggle to survive through the treatment. Many sleep on the hospital grounds, or on the street, while being treated.

We at Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon believe that no woman should die of cervical or breast cancer, no matter where she lives. So we decided it was time for the women of Tanzania to have “homes away from home” near the country’s only two cancer treatment centers that could save their lives. We partnered with the American Cancer Society the Bush Institute HKS, Inc ., Southern Methodist University , and T-MARC Tanzania to sponsor the Hostels for Hope competition.

downloadWe challenged professional and student architects around the world to use fresh thinking, sustainable materials, and resourceful ingenuity to design safe, comfortable lodgings for women undergoing cancer treatments. And they responded! We received nearly 100 designs, and an esteemed jury chose six winners who will be announced on World Cancer Day , February 4, in Tanzania. The top two designs will be adapted according to the needs of the hospitals, and our hope is that they will be built in the coming year. (more…)

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Connected Health Symposium 2016 Disruptive Women in Health Care Panel – Boston Strong


Just as trailblazer Kathrine Switzer, the first female Boston Marathon runner, made history in 1967, transforming the “men’s only” Boston Marathon into what it is today, our panelists are changing the world of health care. Meet the Disruptive Women who are transforming health care in and around Boston.


Robin Strongin

Ami Bhatt, MD, FACC

Glenna Crooks, PhD

Naomi Fried, PhD

Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM

Kathy McGroddy Goetz, PhD

Mandira Singh




Thursday, October 20, 2016 – 09:00 to 09:50am

FireShot Capture 37 - Panel_ Disruptive Women in Health Care_ - https___symposium.connectedhealth.


2016 Connected Health Symposium


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Women as Agents of Change in Global Development

Julie PotyrajWomen are essential to global development. Gender equality leads to higher rates of education, better health outcomes, increased economic growth, and even improved agricultural production. Focusing on the empowerment of women doesn’t just benefit women; it benefits society as a whole.

None of this is new information. The importance of women’s empowerment has been a part of the global development conversation since the very beginning of international development efforts. In 1948, theUnited Nations established the Commission on the Status of Women just three years after the organization itself came into existence. The Commission was the first global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the empowerment of women.

Gender equality has remained a part of development discourse ever since. In 2000, the world saw the largest gathering of world leaders in history. The Millennium Summit resulted in a 15-year-long strategy to reduce extreme poverty. Goal Three of the Millennium Development Goals focused exclusively on the empowerment of women. The conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 also marked the beginning of theSustainable Development Goals. According to the United Nations, women will not only be affected by all 17 of these goals, but they will also be the driving force behind the success of these programs.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. It’s a cliché, but still an inspiring message. Does the sentiment of this saying hold real possibility? Can we all truly be the change that’s needed? The history of gender equality has portrayed women as the beneficiaries of change. Programs and policies have been continually designed to uplift the status of women. Yet only recently are we embracing women as agents of that change. Gender equality cannot happen until women are seen as equal and active stakeholders in their development.

Women and girls comprise 49.5 percent of the world’s population. Despite the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, gender inequality continues to permeate the educational, health, political, and economic sectors. Women are egregiously underrepresented in decision-making positions. There are only 18 countries with female heads of state. Out of the five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, there are six female ambassadors, but not one nation with a female head of state. In the very organization that has led the campaign for gender equality since the 1940s, women have a disproportionately small presence.

If the change we wish to see in the world is gender equality, then women must be that change. Women are not passive bystanders in their own empowerment. They are the innovators, the catalysts, and the leaders. In the issue of gender inequality, women themselves are the solution.

In a blog post series for Disruptive Women, I will highlight cases across the globe where women have not only inspired change, but also driven it themselves. If you have a story about women’s role in gender equality that you would like share, or a topic you would like to see explored in greater detail, please feel free to connect with me via Twitter @jPotterRay

Julie Potyraj is the community manager for MHA@GW, HealthInformatics@GW and MPH@GW, all offered by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. For several years, she served as a community development specialist in Zambia coordinating youth empowerment programs and reproductive health education. She is currently an MPH@GW student focusing on global health and health communications.

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June Man of the Month: Marc Sommers, PhD

Robin Strongin

As a child, Marc loved looking at National Geographic magazines, especially at his Uncle’s home on New Year’s Day. That’s where young Marc went with his family to celebrate.  Not much for the adult conversation upstairs, Marc would slip away to the basement and lose himself in exotic photos of far-away places.  At 12, he decided he was going to go to the Serengeti.

marc sommers-head shot (2)Not only did he get there, but he has dedicated much of his adult life to working with young people, primarily in Africa—19 countries and counting.  Marc Sommers, who is fluent in Swahili, is an internationally recognized youth, conflict, education, gender, and development expert, an experienced evaluator, and an award-winning author. He has provided technical advice and policy analysis, and conducted research, assessments and evaluations in 21 war-affected countries.

Marc’s first position in Africa was as Headmaster of a girls’ high school in Kenya, at the ripe old age of 23. That experience was his initiation into gender issues—he had to, as he explained to me, “Defend my students.” (more…)

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#SpacesOfHealth: Aging in Place [Recap]

Can a city help improve your health outcomes? Can a hospital make you sick? The #SpacesOfHealth campaign, brought to you by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, seeks to answer these and similar questions in a series of live webinars around the relationship between environment and health.

call outGone are the days when the thought of aging meant slowing down, a sure retirement and eventual disability. This thinking is being rewritten by baby boomers who want to enjoy their homes, embrace their communities, maintain an active lifestyle and “age in place” — that is, remain in their home of choice for as long as possible. According to the AARP, 87 percent of adults age 65 and older want to age in place. By renovating their homes, engaging in the “village” model, and using innovative solutions, it is now possible for aging adults to safely stay in their homes longer. But more needs to be done on both the community and government levels to make this a reality for more people in all economic brackets.

To explore the issues surrounding the aging in place movement, the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University hosted a webinar as part of the #SpacesOfHealth series. Aging in place advocates and experts in the field of home care, long-term care and aging policy discussed the intersection of the nation’s aging population, and the innovations and opportunities that exist that will allow older adults to age on their terms. Below are the panelists who participated in the webinar and the key takeaways from the discussion.


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Improving Maternal Health in the U.S. and Around the World

Sophia Headshot_Sep15Since 1990, the United States is the only World Health Organization (WHO) region that has actually had an increase in maternal deaths. Although many think that maternal health problems are isolated to the developing world, challenges persist in our country. This is despite spending the most in the world on hospitalization for pregnancy and childbirth. In contrast, the countries that have been most successful in reducing maternal deaths have often achieved these results by using a midwifery model of care—an example that the U.S. may benefit from. Midwifery programs provide advanced education and training to support this model, and studies highlight the positive outcomes that result. Here, we’ll examine why maternal health may be getting worse in the U.S. and solutions that may offer better results. (more…)

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Concussions: A Girls’ Health Problem

Julie-PotyrajFor many people, the connection between sports and concussions will come as no surprise. Within the past few months, concussions have had a continued presence in the media, mostly as they pertain to professional football. Intentionally or not, the NFL has been leading the charge on concussion awareness for the past several years. In 2014, documents were brought to federal court saying that a third of all retired NFL players were expected to develop a “long-term cognitive problem” at some point in their lives as a result of head injuries from football. Recently, a court finally affirmed the deal for the NFL to compensate all players who had suffered neurological damage as a result of these injuries. While this represents an important victory for former athletes, the battle to improve concussion prevention has only just begun.

Because of the popularity of professional football in the United States, the NFL often dominates the public discourse on concussions. But by framing the conversation about concussions around football, we are alienating one of the most vulnerable populations: girls. (more…)

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  • April 4th, 2016 Health Policy Grief
    By Glenna Crooks
  • Rooming In: The Newest Birthing Controversy

    ec_crop (1)Hot on the heels of media stories about the importance of screening for post-partum depression, a debate about whether to have newborns stay in hospital rooms with their moms vs. providing nursery care for the infants is emerging. It’s an interesting topic, but binary responses to the debate do little to recognize that “one size fits all” solutions may not be sound.

    The benefits of rooming in instead of providing nursery care are well known. Both research-based and anecdotal reports suggest that rooming in correlates to a lower incidence of post-partum depression in new mothers and reduced breastfeeding problems for both mother and baby. Babies also appear to be less subject to jaundice. It has also been observed that rooming-in babies seem more content and cry less while mothers bond better with their babies and feel more competent in caring for them when they return home. Proponents argue as well that rooming in offering mothers more rest time because they are not anxious about what’s going on in the nursery. (more…)

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    Women, Children and Water

    Pat Ford Roegner

    Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: February 2016 reports that 64% of Americans have closely followed the news about the lead contamination of Flint, Michigan’s water supply, its likely effects on public health in that city, and the long road ahead as Flint struggles to restore a safe water supply. The same survey found nearly eight in 10 Americans are concerned about the safety of the water in low-income communities across the U.S.

    But even the challenges facing one mid-sized American city pale when we see World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.2 billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water, with an additional 2.6 billion lacking adequate sanitation services.

    The United Nations estimates that by 2025, 2.8 billion people will face water scarcity in 48 countries worldwide. Closer to home, is Flint just the beginning of a water supply nightmare for low-income communities across North America?

    As the news from Flint unfolded in recent weeks, I was reading a paper – of which my daughter Amber is a co-author – about the potential for natural grasses to filter the waters on Lake Victoria near Kisumu, Kenya. (more…)

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    Take Your Own Advice! U.S. Should Pay More Attention to STD Prevention Programs Abroad

    Julie-PotyrajMost sexually transmitted diseases are preventable. That’s one reason it’s so upsetting that one in four sexually active girls in the United States has one. Out of the 19 million new STD cases annually in the U.S., almost half are among people ages 15 to 24. And those statistics only represent the number of reported cases; many more infections go undocumented. Despite the clear need for STD prevention strategies among young people, current efforts are scattered and inconsistent across the U.S. While 23 states require sex education, only 13 states require that the information be “medically accurate.” Even when sex education is taught in schools, many states require an emphasis on abstinence. But are these abstinence-only programs really helping to reduce STDs in younger generations? Simply put, no.

    Comprehensive sex education, using the example of Zambia

    For elementary and middle school students at Chadiza Basic School in the Eastern Province of Zambia, every day begins with a prayer. (more…)

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    Women in Healthcare: Of Leaky Pipes and Sluggish Middles

    DW Vegas HIMSS v2-01

    Corporate America is not on a path to gender equality, which, even purely economically speaking, is a matter of considerable urgency. These findings are based on a recent Women in the Workplace survey McKinsey conducted in partnership with — involving 30,000 employees surveyed and data from 118 companies of which 10 are from the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries — to better understand the context and the path to gender equality.

    Healthcare vs. Other Sectors

    Relative to other sectors such as automotive and industrial, and electronics/technology hardware, the healthcare sector in the US fares better both in accessing talent and representation of women at every level of the organization, based on our research. (more…)

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    Dying to Get an Education

    Meryl Bloomrosen

    Public policy and public health efforts are underway to help assure that people can be healthy where they live, work, and play.  As part of providing education, schools are supposed to protect the health and safety of students.   Various government and non-government organizations (NGOs) offer resources, toolkits and evidence-based resources to help school districts, schools, and school personnel deal with health emergencies, such as life threatening conditions like asthma.  Guidelines indicate that schools should have:  a policy or rule that allows students to carry and use their own asthma medicines; written emergency plan(s) for teachers and staff to follow to take care of a student who has an asthma attack; and standing orders and quick-relief medicines for students’ use.[1] [2]

    In the last few days, I read with admiration about middle and high school students setting aside any personal trepidation and potential disciplinary action to help fellow classmates who were having asthma attacks. (more…)

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    Food, Health and Public Policy

    Meryl Bloomrosen

    I am someone who has worked for many years “inside the Beltway” (aka Washington DC), who admittedly wears the “policy wonk” hat, and was a (long distance) caregiver for elderly parents in the last years of their lives, one of whom faced eating related complications and consequences.   Because of these experiences I advocate on behalf of people who live with chronic diseases.  I appreciate more than ever how important it is to comprehensively explore issues related to public health topics such as obesity, food insecurity, food labeling, food literacy, and food shopping.  Indeed, the intersection of social factors, community, education, environment, behavior and health are prominent components of current health policy discussions and activities. [1] [2] [3]

    The prominent health policy publication, Health Affairs recently devoted its November 2015 issue to Food and Health.  However, most noticeably and disappointingly absent in the discussions about food and heath were the perspectives, values and needs of people living with the challenges of chronic, life threatening and incurable food related diseases, such as food allergies[4].  Food allergies present significant health burdens for patients and their families and caregivers. Public policies related to food and health must consider diverse patient perspectives and values based on their unique circumstances and life goals. (more…)

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