NIH Launches a Web Site for the Minority Health Initiative
The Office of Research on Minority Health (ORMH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a new Web site to offer the public and scientific community information about the NIH Minority Health Initiative (MHI). This multiyear program supports biomedical and behavioral research aimed at improving the health of minority Americans across the lifespan and research training programs designed to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities in all aspects of biomedical and behavioral research. Scientists, health care professionals and students will be able to access information about the research and research training programs of the MHI; the ORMH Advisory Committee on Minority Health; health statistics; NIH grants and contracts; employment and training opportunities; and NIH program staff, publications, reports and resources. For more information, visit the ORMH Web site at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/.
HHS Begins a New Immunization Public Service Campaign
During National Immunization Week in April, Donna Shalala, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS), launched a public health awareness campaign urging all parents, particularly Hispanic and black parents, to immunize their children. The public service campaign features a color poster, a video news release, and new television and radio public service announcements reminding parents that children should receive all of their recommended vaccinations by age two to protect against 10 preventable childhood diseases. According to the HHS, immunization rates for the most commonly recommended childhood immunizations have reached a record high of 80 percent. While 83 percent of non-Hispanic children (19 to 35 months old) have received the most commonly recommended series by age two, only 74 percent of black children and 77 percent of Hispanic children are fully vaccinated. A toll-free information service refers callers to local immunization professionals and offers information in English and Spanish. The toll-free number for English is 800-232-2522, and the number for Spanish-speaking persons is 800-232-0233.
Project C.U.R.E. Volunteers Provide Medical Care to Indigent Patients
Through Project C.U.R.E., a nonprofit organization started in 1989, a staff of health care volunteers, including Jim Williams, M.D., Lakewood, Colo., recently traveled to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and provided medical care to about 1,000 indigent patients. Dr. Williams and the other eight volunteers staffed four different clinic days in Santa Cruz. Associates of Project C.U.R.E. have been collecting and donating medical supplies and equipment to impoverished countries around the world for the past 10 years. The organization is now seeking medical volunteers to go to these countries and staff medical clinics. Volunteers are needed for trips to China, Senegal, and possibly India, Guatemala, Vietnam and Ethiopia. The trips are organized through Project C.U.R.E. and the host governments, and each trip lasts from seven to 10 days. The volunteer pays for the cost of the trip. The program has been reviewed by the American Academy of Family Physicians and is acceptable for up to 21 prescribed continuing medical education hours. For more information, contact Project C.U.R.E. at 303-727-9414.
States Receive Grants for Newborn Hearing Screening
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has given $3 million in grant money to 22 states for the development and expansion of universal newborn hearing screening and intervention programs. In addition, a national resource and technical assistance center will receive $332,279 to help link screening with appropriate early intervention. “Each year, 24,000 infants are born in the United States with some degree of hearing loss,” said HRSA Administrator Claude Earl Fox, M.D., M.P.H. “Since early detection is the key to effective treatment, these grants will help assure that more newborns are screened before they leave the hospital and receive early intervention in the first six months.” The states receiving the grants are Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin.
BPHC Drug Discount Program Is Given a New Name
The Office of Pharmacy Affairs is the new name for the Bureau of Primary Health Care's (BPHC) former Office of Drug Pricing. The office administers the Section 340B drug discount program, under which certain federally funded grantees have access to low-cost pharmaceutical drugs. The new name reflects the office's primary position in managing BPHC's Clinical Pharmacy Initiative. The initiative emphasizes clinical pharmacy services as a necessary part of the delivery of primary health care. The initiative's emphasis on comprehensive pharmacy services is consistent with the strategy of the Health Resources Services Administration for achieving 100 percent access to health care and zero health disparities among ethnic and racial groups, states Dr. Marilyn Gaston, HRSA's associate administrator for primary health care.
Reports Discuss Prescription Drug Coverage for Medicare Beneficiaries
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) has released three new resources on prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. “Prescription Drug Coverage for Medicare Beneficiaries: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Selected Proposals,” includes summaries and detailed descriptions of five major federal proposals that are currently under consideration. The second report, “The Role of PBMs in Managing Drug Costs: Implications for a Medicare Drug Benefit,” examines the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and explores the implications of using PBMs to manage a Medicare prescription drug benefit. The third resource, “Medicare and Prescription Drugs,” profiles current sources of drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, describes characteristics of beneficiaries who lack drug coverage and provides data on prescription drug use and spending. The reports can be found on the KFF Web site at http://www.kff.org. The reports can also be obtained by calling the KFF publications request line at 800-656-5433.