CDC Releases Road Safety Tool

June 3rd, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

Arizona has been able to decrease the rate of deaths from car, truck and motorcycle crashes by 43% in the last 4 years, from about 19 deaths per 100,000 in 2005 to 11 per 100,000 Arizonans in 2009.  While this is good progress, we still have a long way to go.  Crashes are still the leading cause of death for people between 3 and 34, and 710 Arizonans died from vehicle crashes in 2009.  This is a dramatic decrease from 2005 when 1,128 Arizonans died in crashes.  Between 2005 and 2009 Arizona improved roadways, implemented a graduated drivers license for people under 18, and strengthened our DUI laws and enforcement.  More cities are decreasing red light running by various methods including red-light cameras.  Also, our fleet of cars gets safer each year as older vehicles break down and get discarded.

The national trends are going in the right direction as well.  You can read more about this Winnable Battle on the CDC’s website.  You can also visit our injury prevention website and look at the response end of traumatic injury on our trauma site where you’ll find Arizona-specific reports.  Still, there’s a lot of work to be done: seatbelt and child safety seat usage use is only at 80% and speeding and distracted driving remain a problem.

The CDC released some new state specific tools for policy makers and the public to help drive positive change.  The CDC has a new State-specific website where you can download your state’s fact sheet. You’ll also find details about medical and work loss costs for your state.  You can also learn more about your state’s policies related to motor vehicle safety and evidence-based strategies that could address gaps.  Interventions to reduce motor vehicle deaths are multi-sectoral and include p0licy making, highway safety, law enforcement, public health, social marketing, engineering and other disciplines.  Let’s keep this moving in the right direction.

MyPlate Kickoff

June 2nd, 2011 by admin No comments »

The USDA kicked off their (well-researched) approach to help folks better understand how to make better and healthier food choices.  The new approach- called MyPlate presents a new way to look at what you eat- and replaces the 2 decade old “food pyramid”.  The MyPlate approach will become the new curriculum moving forward for schools and other institutions and is designed to drive our society toward better and healthier choices.  The interactive website is at: www.choosemyplate.gov.

The MyPlate tool is far more than a flat new plan.  It provides exciting and targeted resources for families and teachers such as tools for Preschoolers (2-5yrs);   Kids (6-11yrs); Pregnant & Breastfeeding; and the General Population, information on healthy dieting, a Daily Food Plan and a Food Planner.

The MyPlate idea will give people a better idea of how much of which foods to eat to be healthy.  Last year, ADHS began a similar concept educating people who receive SNAP benefits and all of us.  We published two documents to show people what an Adult Portion Plate and a Youth Portion Plate look like.

Today’s kick off is the perfect opportunity for you to look at what you’re eating or feeding your family and learn how to make healthier food choices.  You can also sign up for healthy recipes on ADHS’s www.eatwellbewell.org.

Dispensary Application News

June 1st, 2011 by admin 27 comments »

A prospective dispensary applicant came to our offices this morning in an effort to submit an application for a dispensary registration certificate.   We declined to accept the application because, as I wrote on Friday, we won’t be accepting dispensary registration certificate applications until the outcome of legal action filed last week.

There were several members of the media present when the prospective applicant arrived.  One of the reporters asked me a question about how the decision was made to halt the acceptance of dispensary registration certificate applications.  I want to clarify my answer to that question.  The decision to halt the acceptance of dispensary registration certificate applications was collaborative.  It was the result of multiple discussions that followed the May 2 letter from the U.S. Attorney for Arizona – including conversations involving myself, the Governor, legal counsel and staff.  It’s most accurate to say that the Governor and I reached the decision to suspend the acceptance of dispensary applications in consultation and coordination, as is typical for an issue of this significance.

Cell phones and cancer

June 1st, 2011 by admin No comments »

The World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer met this week in Lyon, France to analyze health-risk data regarding the electromagnetic fields generated by cell phones.  Their initial report was published this week, concluding that the chronic use of cell phones could be “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.  The group didn’t do any primary research themselves; rather, they reviewed the published literature to draw their conclusion.  The group concluded that, “Over the last few years, there has been mounting concern about the possibility of adverse health effects resulting from exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by wireless communication devices…  (and that) the evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion…  that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.”

This statement is a far cry from drawing a direct link between cell phone use and cancer.  But, the report also made some recommendations that, pending the availability of more research, it makes sense to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as using hands‐free devices or texting (electromagnetic fields drop off exponentially with distance, meaning that even moving the phone a few centimeters away from the head drops the exposure dramatically).  A concise report summarizing the main conclusions of the IARC Working Group and the evaluations of the carcinogenic hazard from radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (including the use of mobile telephones) will be published in a few days in The Lancet Oncology.

And remember, the most important thing to remember is to avoid distracted driving, which is an absolute and clear danger (to yourself and others).

Arizonans are Kicking the Habit / World No Tobacco Day

May 31st, 2011 by admin No comments »

Over 166,000 Arizonans kicked their tobacco habit in 2010.  Our smoking rate now stands at only 13.5%.  This news is exciting when you consider that many states have seen increases in tobacco use over the last couple of years.  This brand-new data isn’t published yet, but our team thinks that this will put is neck-and-neck with Utah for the lowest smoking rate in the nation.

How did we get here you ask?  We’ve been working hard with our community partners have not taken their foot off the accelerator in their statewide effort to help people to quit and to prevent kids from starting.  Calls to the Arizona Smokers Helpline have soared because of our targeted “call to action” campaign.  For example, in the first six weeks of our You Can Quit- We Can Help campaign, the ASHline received more calls than it had in the previous five months. Enrollment rates have climbed, and the ASHLine has a nearly 40% quit rate after six months (best in the country). We also think that our youth prevention campaign and the implementation of the Smoke Free Arizona Act in 2007 are factors that have helped us make progress.

We expect this recent success to continue as more Arizonans see their family members, friends, and co-workers break their addiction to tobacco.  The social determinants are now weighed heavily in favor of healthy lifestyle choices and being tobacco-free is now the norm!

But that’s not the case in the rest of the world -that’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) set aside today – May 31, 2011 – as World No Tobacco Day.  According to the WHO website:

This year, the tobacco epidemic will kill nearly 6 million people, including some 600,000 nonsmokers who will die from exposure to tobacco smoke. By 2030, it could kill 8 million.

So keep up the good work Arizonans – we’re showing the world it is possible to kick the habit.

AZ Medical Marijuana Program Update

May 27th, 2011 by admin 13 comments »

In light of recent communication from the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, the Governor asked the Attorney General to file a suit this week asking for a declaratory judgment from a federal court regarding the legality of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and our Rules. We had been planning to begin accepting dispensary applications beginning next Wednesday, June 1 (continuing through June 30).  However, as a result of this legal action, legal advice we’ve received from the AZ Attorney General’s Office and the overall uncertainty about the legality of the Act itself (especially the dispensary parts) we won’t be accepting dispensary applications in June after all.  Whether we accept and process dispensary applications at a later date will depend on the outcome of legal action. However, we will continue to accept and process on-line applications for Qualifying Patient and Designated Caregiver ID cards on our website.

Limit the Sun, Not the Fun

May 27th, 2011 by admin No comments »

Today is Don’t Fry Day – a day established by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention to remind people of the importance of sunscreen.  In Arizona, we need more than a day – it is more of a season and now that school’s just about out (or is), kids have more time on their hands for outdoor fun.  The vast majority of a person’s lifetime exposure to the sun occurs by the age of 18- meaning it’s crucial to protect and educate parents and children about common-sense sun safety.  Our SunWise program made YouTube history with its inaugural video contest this year. Junior high and high school students across Arizona were invited to create an original video how to be SunWise when being active outside or making a prom plan not to tan.  Congratulations to 2011 contest winners Anthony Bejarano for his video called When You’re Active Outside, Be SunWise and to Destiny Galindo for her winning video called Make A Prom Plan Not to Tan.

Also, congrats to Joyce Kuang for her winning entry in this year’s poster contest Poster Contest winner. Joyce is a 7th-grade student at Payne Junior High School in Queen Creek. The Arizona Diamondbacks selected her poster from among 6900 entries.  Joyce and teacher Eric Nedow will be celebrated at the Arizona Diamondbacks game on June 15 at Chase Field. Joyce and Mr. Nedow will receive on-field awards, appear on the jumbotron screen, and Joyce’s drawing will be the official SunWise campaign poster for 2011-2012 school year. Congratulations to everyone who entered and to all of this year’s 2011 SunWise Poster Contest Semifinalists.

We hope you enjoy the winning entries as much we do! Learn more about how to protect yourself and family in the sun at www.azdhs.gov/phs/sunwise.

Celebrating Women’s Health

May 26th, 2011 by admin No comments »

With all the things that have been going on I somehow neglected to write about Women’s Health Week – which was a couple of weeks ago.  The theme this year is “It’s Your Time” and serves to remind women to take time out to take care of themselves.   Women in all parts of the world have primary influence on the health of their families, as they tend to coordinate family wellness and family health care.  They often model health behaviors by insisting on healthy meals and by getting family members engaged in different fun activities that promote physical activity.

Women’s Health Week provides an opportunity for women to make their own health a top priority and encourages them to take steps to improve their physical and mental health. Our Women’s and Children’s Health team partnered with the Arizona Department of Administration to launch the second annual Women’s Health Week celebration at the Capitol building.  Women and men from more than 30 state agencies/offices received health screenings on Monday and Tuesday and visited 21 exhibits to receive information/resources for improving their health.  Two vendors offered the special treat of free chair massages – a much appreciated stress reliever.  In addition, presentations were held on Body Image and Physical Activity, Women’s Mental Health, and Fit Bones for Life.  The P.E.A.C.E Project, a youth performing troupe that promotes healthy relationships and sexual assault prevention provided a memorable performance on Thursday.  Kudos to Angie Lorenzo and the planning committee members for making this event even more successful this year.  To learn more about Women’s Health Week and learn more about what women can do to improve their physical and mental health, visit the National Women’s Health website .

Who is John Snow?

May 25th, 2011 by admin No comments »

He’s a guy that’s often thought of as the founder of modern day epidemiology because of his work in tracing the source of a cholera outbreak in England in the mid 1800s.  At the time, scientists and the public believed that diseases like cholera were spread by “miasma”- basically that diseases like cholera were spread by pollution or “bad air”.   The “germ theory” of disease was in its infancy, so Snow didn’t have the advantage of knowing that microorganisms spread disease.  But he was skeptical that bad air was the cause.

During an outbreak of cholera in the mid 1860s he started talking to local residents and concluded that the source of the outbreak might actually be from the water in a public water pump on Broad Street.  He didn’t have the instruments to observe a problem with the water but the pattern of disease he documented was convincing enough to persuade the local council to disable the well pump by removing its handle.  He later developed a spot map to illustrate how cases of cholera clustered around the pump and statistically showed the connection between the quality of the source of water and cholera cases.

Looking behind the scenes, he found that homes that had an increased incidence of cholera were more likely to be delivered water from the parts of the Thames River that were polluted with sewage.  At the time, it was a really hard sell to convince the public that many diseases were spread through the fecal-oral route partly because it grossed people out.  However, the next decade (1860s-1870s) was a real growth period for public health as the germ theory developed, opening the possibilities for hundreds of public health interventions.

AZ Medical Marijuana Act Legal Update

May 24th, 2011 by admin 10 comments »

We understand that the Governor and the Attorney General are seeking a declaratory judgment in federal court regarding the implementation of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.  When further information is available, ADHS will update you. Until then, the Department will continue to issue Qualifying Patient and Designated Caregiver Registry Cards on our website.