Creating a Bubble of Safety in an Otherwise Destructive Environment

The Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program is in the process of finalizing a “safe space” for heroin users within their center. A room with a nurse present would create a safer environment for people who are currently high and need a place where medical attention is readily available should they need it. It is important to understand what this “safe space” truly is: “It’s not a place where people would be injecting…[It would be] a place where people would come if they’re high and they need a safe place to be that’s not a street corner or not a bathroom by themselves, where they’re at high risk of dying if they do overdose,” says Dr. Jessie Galea in an article from wbur’s Common Health.

This initiative comes at a time of great concern over the opioid epidemic that is spreading across the United States. In Massachusetts, the number of confirmed cases of unintentional opioid overdose deaths in 2014 was a 57% increase over the number of cases recorded in 2012, as reported by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This form of harm reduction policy may come as a shock to some people- it is strange thing to conceive the provision of a space where heroin users who are currently high will be allowed to stay without facing legal penalty. While this is an unconventional method to combat drug overdoses, it is certainly a step in the right direction. Something needs to be done. Our current policies in place create an environment that leads addicts to endanger themselves even further. In order to fully address the opioid epidemic, policy implementation is going to have to target all of the factors contributing to the epidemic, rather than solely tightening restrictions on opioid prescriptions (though that should not be slighted). By creating a safe space where people who are currently experiencing a high can come, this could lead to many lives saved who would’ve otherwise overdosed because medical treatment could not be sought in time. In addition, we may see a rise in users who admit themselves into treatment and detox centers. It is important to think creatively when trying to combat an epidemic of the magnitude that we see with the opioid epidemic in the U.S., and to be open to unconventional ideas.

 

By Jackie Sheridan

What You Need to Know: Ebola

If you’ve been keeping up with the news at all lately, chances are you have heard a lot of talk about Ebola. The outbreak of the virus has recently spread beyond Africa, and as expected many people are nervous. The news keeps telling us that the United States can easily combat the virus, but you still can’t help but worry, right? Especially after hearing of the death of Thomas Duncan, the first person to contract Ebola in the United States, it is easy to panic. Before you do, however, it is important to educate yourself. We hear all the extreme statistics and horror stories surrounding the outbreak, but how much do we really know? Determining the facts about Ebola can greatly help reduce the stress you may be feeling.

What is Ebola?
Ebola is a virus originally transmitted to people through wild animals, but now spreads human to human. The recent outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most complex outbreak since the virus was first discovered in 1976.

How does it spread?
Ebola spreads through direct contact through broken skin, like a wound, or mucous membranes, like the eyes, with blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected people and also with materials like bedding and clothing that have been contaminated with these fluids.

What are the symptoms?
The first symptoms of Ebola are a fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. Eventually, these are followed by vomiting, diarrhea, a rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, internal and external bleeding.

How long are you contagious for once you contract the virus?
People are not contagious until they start developing symptoms. It may take anywhere from 2 to 21 days after contracting the virus for symptoms to appear. Once diagnosed, a person is contagious as long as their bodily fluids contain the virus. These bodily fluids include but are not limited to urine, sweat, feces, saliva, vomit, semen, and breast milk.

What is the fatality rate?
There have been other outbreaks of different strains of Ebola with fatality rates of 90%, but the average fatality rate is about 50% for this specific outbreak.

Is there a vaccine?
There are 2 vaccine candidates undergoing evaluation, but at this point in time there is no FDA approved treatment or vaccine for the virus.

What is the United States doing to prevent an outbreak in the US?
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that in order to prevent further Ebola outbreaks, it is important to maintain surveillance for the virus at airports. WHO also wants to support at-risk countries to develop preparedness plans.

What does all this mean?
The United States is caring for the few cases here to the best of their abilities. The country currently does not have a Surgeon General appointed, but the government is assuring the public not to worry. Our country has the resources to contain the virus for those cases that are already diagnosed. There are not many precautions to be taken from the public, just be aware of the symptoms and avoid bodily fluids of others. At this point in time, there is no real need to panic about contracting the virus, the country is mainly focusing on continuing to screen people entering the US in hopes of stopping the virus from spreading.

For more information please visit http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/ or to read an interesting article on other things you may want to know about Ebola, check out this article from USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/10/08/ebola-texas-dallas-death/16914319/

2011 Clinton Global Initiative University

The application to attend the 2011 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), hosted by President Clinton, is now available online, visit http://e.clintonfoundation.org/ctl=33A9850:C4F419C393911C255B45E1D408F8050CDF0D87866D547BF0& to apply now! CGI U 2011 will take place at the University of California, San Diego from April 1-3, 2011.

Applying and attending are free, and the travel assistance application is available to those who apply before the early decision deadline.

CGI U is President Clinton’s initiative designed to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. Each CGI U student member makes a Commitment to Action: a specific plan of action that addresses a pressing challenge on their campus, in their community, or around the world.

The early decision deadline is November 30, 2010. The final decision deadline is February 7, 2011.

Students will be admitted on a rolling basis. Space at CGI U 2011 will likely be filled after the early decision deadline, so we encourage you to apply early! Limited travel and/or lodging assistance will be available to those who qualify.

2011 Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program

Summer Program Opportunity:

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation is accepting applications, http://www.kff.org/minorityhealth/bjscholars/bjsapplication.cfm, for the 2011 Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program. This intensive summer program provides college students with an opportunity to work on policy issues in a congressional office and to engage in original health policy research and analysis under the guidance of Foundation research staff.

College seniors and recent college graduates who have a strong interest in addressing racial and ethnic health disparities or who are themselves a member of a population that is adversely affected by racial and ethnic health disparities are eligible to apply. Eligible candidates must be U.S. citizens who will be seniors or recent graduates of an accredited U.S. college or university by the fall of 2011. Individuals with a graduate degree and those individuals currently enrolled in a graduate degree program are not eligible to participate. The application deadline is 5 p.m. ET on Friday, December 3, 2010. Application materials and more information are available online.

Selected Scholars will work in congressional offices in Washington, D.C. for 10 weeks and will participate in weekly seminars and site visits designed to increase their understanding of the intersection between policy and the legislative process. Scholars are expected to write and present a health policy research paper in one of the following research areas: health reform and the uninsured, Medicaid, Medicare or HIV/AIDS. Housing is provided through Howard University, the Foundation’s partner in operating the program.

The Kaiser Family Foundation established the Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program to honor the legacy of Barbara Jordan – the first African American elected to Congress from Texas and a well-respected former member of the Foundation’s board of trustees. Barbara Jordan had a distinguished career exemplified by her tireless advocacy on behalf of vulnerable populations. She brought this passion to her work, inspiring other to become involved in addressing challenging health policy issues.

For questions, please contact:

Cara James, program director at the Kaiser Family Foundation at (202) 347-5270 or cjames@kff.org.

Jomo Kassaye, program manager at Howard University at (202) 238-2385 or jzkassaye@howard.edu.

Next Year’s E-board!

Congratulations to next year’s eboard!

President: Jackie Byrd (byrd@bu.edu)
Vice-President: Michelle Gammill (mgammill@bu.edu)
Secretary: Kira Skolas (kskolas@bu.edu)
Treasurer: Kelsey Anderson (kelsey.lynneanderson@gmail.com)
Social and Advertising Chair: Tara Melillo (tmelillo@bu.edu)
International Liason: Sean Oehrle (soehrle@bu.edu)

Job Opportunity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

A part-time laboratory assistant position is available at Brigham and Women’s Hospital under the leadership of Cam Fraer (Research Coordinator).

They are looking for a rising sophomore (or junior) student who has work-study funding and who can come in 2-4 hours per week.

The tasks range from administrative work (filing, taking inventory, etc.) to lab work. The research studies generally deal with ovarian cancer.

If you are interested in this position, contact mapsbu@bu.edu to receive the contact information for the position!