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Summaries of 2006 policies passed by the Governing Council: new policies address issues such as pandemic flu, nanotechnology, abstinence.

The following are brief descriptions of the 22 policies adopted by the Governing Council at the 134th APHA Annual Meeting in Boston. Three of the new policies were latebreakers, meaning they were not open to the same review and comment as the other 2006 policies and will serve as interim policies until they are confirmed by the Governing Council at its 2007 meeting.

For more information on any of the newly adopted APHA policies, e-mail <policy@apha.org>.

(Disclaimer: These brief descriptions are not comprehensive and do not include every point, statement or conclusion presented in the policies. To read the full 2006 policies, visit the APHA Web site at <www.apha.org/nation links/>).

20061 Addressing needs of immigrants during disasters--Outlines some of the specific needs faced by immigrants during natural and manmade disasters, such as loss of documentation proving lawful immigrant or refugee status and barriers to disaster relief and government assistance. Gives recommendations such as including immigrant needs in disaster preparedness planning, partnering with community-based organizations to better prepare and ensuring access to services in the event of a disaster.

20062 Reducing disparities in birth outcomes--Provides the scientific basis for the importance of addressing racial and ethnic disparities in preterm and low-birth-weight births. Outlines a broad course of action to reduce the excess risk of preterm and low-birth-weight births in minority and low-income populations. Emphasizes the importance of creating interventions at both the individual and societal level. Supports sufficient funding for such interventions, more research into the issue and a national effort to end social and racial inequalities.

20063 Pandemic flu preparedness--Identifies the most important issues to be addressed in preparation for, and response to, an influenza pandemic. Outlines which federal agencies should be in charge of pandemic flu preparedness and response activities. Urges clear federal guidance on such issues as school closures, quarantine, isolation, occupational health and controlling public transportation in the event of a pandemic. Urges federal investments in the purchase, tracking, distribution and research of vaccines, antivirals and other countermeasures. Calls for the creation of an emergency Medicaid designation for pandemic flu and federally funded loan repayment and scholarship programs for public health students.

20064 Support for Alaska dental aide program--Stresses the need for access to preventive and therapeutic oral health services. Supports the Alaska Dental Health Aide Program and other innovative programs and practices as ways to bring oral health services to Alaska Natives. Urges local, state and federal support for the program. Urges Congress, the presidential administration and federal agencies to improve oral health policies, programs and funding.

20065 Potential risks of nanotechnology--Addresses the potential environmental and occupational health and safety risks of nanotechnology as well as the design and manipulation of atomic materials. Urges Congress and federal agencies to substantially increase funding for environmental and occupational health and safety surrounding nanotechnology. Urges manufacturers to voluntarily adopt safeguards. Urges federal agencies to develop regulations and standards if needed.

20066 Evidence-based community health assessments--Urges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to initiate and oversee evaluations of community health assessments. Encourages the formation of a work group led by federal, state and local agencies, in collaboration with professional groups such as APHA, to develop a plan and recommendations for developing an evidence base of effective community health assessment practice.

20067 Promoting protective eyewear for kids who play sports--Strongly recommends that all children who participate in sports with a moderate to high risk of eye injury wear protective eyewear. Urges state legislatures to enact laws similar to that of New Jersey's requiring protective eyewear for children who participate in organized sports. Encourages donations of protective eyewear or funding, and encourages manufacturers to make protective eyewear tailored for children.

20068 Employees' right to form unions--Supports the organizations that defend the rights of workers to have access to quality health care. Urges Congress to support legislation that enables workers to form unions. Urges the National Labor Relations Board to refrain from further attacks on workers' rights. Urges all employers, particularly those in the health care industry, to allow their workers to form unions and bargain collectively. Outlines specific APHA activities to support worker unions.

20069 Protection for those responding to disasters--Addresses the public health impact and needs of disaster responders based on experiences of Hurricane Katrina. Recommends the implementation of certain sections of the National Response Plan in the event of future disasters. Advises that workers presume contamination unless proven otherwise in an area that has undergone significant damage during a disaster. Recommends responding to findings from environmental assessments with ongoing follow-up testing.

200610 Concerns with abstinence education--Raises questions about U.S. programs that promote abstinence only until marriage as a universal strategy in light of statistics that show most Americans have sex many years prior to marriage. Notes that significant ethical and human rights concerns arise when abstinence is presented to adolescents as the sole choice, or when health information regarding other choices is limited or misrepresented. Calls for federal funding for comprehensive sexuality education.

200611 Ensuring emergency contraceptive access at pharmacies--Urges pharmacist associations, pharmacies and schools of pharmacy to work with reproductive health and public health professionals to conduct ongoing educational programs for pharmacists about dispensing contraception, including emergency contraception. Outlines the time-sensitive nature of emergency contraception.

200612 School and child care hand hygiene--Acknowledges that keeping hands clean is one of the most effective methods of preventing the spread of colds, diarrhea, influenza and food-borne illness. Calls for all state legislatures and education agencies to adopt and enforce mandatory standards and funding for adequate handwashing facilities and supplies in child care settings and school restrooms, classrooms and cafeterias. Calls for the support of and proper funding for handwashing programs, as well as research into the effectiveness of handwashing education.

200613 Regulating prescription drugs--Outlines the current drug regulatory process and its limitations, including conflicts of interest. Supports legislation to require the Food and Drug Administration to require post-marketing drug studies. Supports requiring more transparency and access to data from pharmaceutical post-marketing studies. Calls for restoring FDA's authority to limit drug advertising.

200614 The pharmacist's public health role--Calls for greater inclusion of public health concepts in the curricula of schools of pharmacy. Encourages the participation of pharmacists and other public health professionals in research that crosses disciplines. Urges Congress to require federal health agencies to recognize pharmacists as health care providers under programs such as Medicare. Supports the influx of more pharmacists trained in public health to address the public health worker shortage.

200615 Alcohol control--Calls for the World Health Organization to adopt and implement a binding international treaty on alcohol control modeled after the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Urges national public health organizations and other non-governmental organizations to support the treaty. Asks the U.S. government to support and help plan for such a treaty, designed to reduce the global health burden of alcohol.

200616 Ethical recruitment of health professionals--Calls for ethical restrictions on the international recruitment of health professionals to the United States. Urges U.S. health workers to voluntarily adopt an industry-wide code of ethics that guides their recruitment and hiring of health professionals from abroad. Recommends the U.S. government ask health care employees to report regularly on their recruitment practices. Calls for better pay and better working conditions for health care workers in the United States.

200617 Opposing the war in Iraq--Calls for the immediate safe withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, accompanied by deployment of peacekeeping forces under the command of the United Nations in areas at risk for interethnic conflict or civil war. Calls for halting plans to establish "enduring" U.S. military bases in Iraq. Supports a U.N.-led process to develop an Iraqi constitution. Calls for allowing agencies such as the U.N. Environmental Program to begin to evaluate the environmental contamination caused by the military conflict in Iraq.

200618 Reducing hunger in America--Raises concerns about proposed cuts to the U.S. Food Stamp Program. Calls on Congress and federal agencies to modernize and streamline the requirements of the Food Stamp Nutrition Education program to better allow for state and local participation and improve access to healthy, fresh food. Increase the food stamp minimum monthly benefit. Calls for a national action plan for improving the diets of low-income American families.

200619 Reversing the obesity epidemic--Calls for governmental, public and private agencies to coordinate actions to reverse the obesity epidemic. Calls for identifying the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as the lead federal agency to convene an anti-obesity task force. Calls for sufficient funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support a plan for nutrition and physical activity in all states, tribes and territories. Calls for mass communication campaigns that promote healthy eating and physical activity.

Latebreakers

LB-06-01 Prevention and control of multidrug-resistant organisms--Encourages and promotes rigorous infection prevention and control practices in health care settings. Stresses the need for health care quality and standards-setting organizations to create additional infection prevention and control standards, alerts and patient safety goals focused on multidrug-resistant organism prevention, identification and control.

LB-06-02 End-of-life choices--Urges health educators, policy-makers, journalists and health care providers to recognize that the choice of a mentally competent, terminally ill person to choose to self-administer medications to bring about a peaceful death is not "suicide," nor is the prescribing of such medication by a physician "assisted suicide." Urges terms such as "aid in dying" or "patient-directed dying" be used to describe such a choice.

LB-06-03 Restricting trans fat--Supports a key recommendation of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to limit trans fatty acids in the American diet. Urges Congress, state and local governments to require nutrition labeling of trans fats on commercial food products. Urges restrictions on the amount of trans fat that can be served in restaurant food. Urges federal agencies to revoke the "generally recognized as safe" status of trans fat.
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Publication:The Nation's Health
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Date:Dec 1, 2006
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