Tag Archives: Medical and Public Health

Acoustic Focusing in Flow Cytometry

22 Mar

I will admit that I am a bit of a flow cytometry nerd. Our medical lab science program only has one graduate class so far, and it is in diagnostic flow cytometry. I begged the department head to let me take it, despite not having yet fulfilled my immunology requirement. I had taken the hematology class though, and flow cytometry is most commonly used in the medical lab to identify and monitor hematological diseases, so they decided to let me take it. I was ecstatic, and flow cytometry is still one of my favorite instrumentation methods. So this little video demonstrating acoustic focusing made my day.

Band Aids for Every Lab

15 Mar

Every laboratory needs a box of these.

Every scientist knows that ninja fights, shark bites, pipette jousting, and dance offs are the top four causes of laboratory accidents.

Designing Disorder

12 Mar

Talented designer Graphic Patrick, whose work and inspiration can also be found here, decided to challenge himself by designing posters of mental disorders. He took serious mental conditions, which are hard enough to fully describe in words, and with creative use of simple color, shapes, and space, successfully created series of graphic representations.

I absolutely love them. The depression one is quite powerful, and the narcolepsy one always makes me giggle (A close family member has it, and I will admit, it’s a pretty hilarious disorder. Except when they fall asleep while driving.)
I would love to see him tackle ADD/ADHD

How Birth Control Saves Taxpayers Money

7 Mar

Julie Rovner, of NPR’s health blog Shots, wrote the amazing following article outlining how contraceptives, an important aspect of American public health, actually does save the taxpayers money.

How Birth Control Saves Taxpayers Money

birth control options

While the controversy continues to swirl around radio talkmeister Rush Limbaugh and his admittedly inappropriate comments about Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke, an analysis from the left-leaning Brookings Institution adds an economic twist to the debate over coverage of contraception.

Love them or hate them, contraceptives do save taxpayers money, Brookings concludes.

The study, from the Brookings Center on Children and Families, looked at three different ways to prevent unintended pregnancies, which account for about half of all pregnancies in the U.S.

All three approaches more than pay for themselves. But one -– increasing funding for family planning services through the Medicaid program -– clearly outshines the other two in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Yes, you may have heard there are lots of ways to lower the rate of unintended pregnancy. There are mass media campaigns to urge young people to avoid unprotected sex. Other programs urge teens to delay having sex, or, as a fallback, teach them how to use contraception effectively. And then there’s Medicaid’s help low-income women afford the most effective contraceptive methods.

But this study, using a simulation model devised by Brookings, is the first to estimate exactly how much could be saved using each method.

It found that a national mass media campaign that would cost $100 million would result in about $431 million in savings to taxpayers, largely by reducing unintended pregnancy, particularly among people who don’t make much money.

Programs the Brookings researchers called “evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention,” which combine an emphasis on abstinence “while also educating participants about how to use various methods of contraception” have both reduced the rate of sexual activity and increased the use of contraception.

Spending $145 million on such programs would return $356 million to taxpayers, according to the model.

But by far the biggest return on investment would come from expanding access to family planning through Medicaid, something made possibly through the 2010 Affordable Care Act. A $235 million investment there would lower taxpayer costs of $1.32 billion by preventing unintended pregnancies.

“Evidence-based pregnancy prevention interventions are public policy trifectas: They generate taxpayer savings, they improve the lives of children and families, and they reduce the incidence of abortion,” writes Adam Thomas, the study’s author.

Big deal, say some people, unimpressed with the idea of birth control as a money saver.

“So you’re saying by not having babies born, we’re going to save money in healthcare?” asked an incredulous Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing last week.

Exactly, Sebelius replied, explaining what studies like the one from Brookings have shown for years. “Providing contraception as a critical preventive health benefit for women and for their children reduces health care funds,” she said.

“Not having babies born is a critical benefit. This is absolutely amazing to me. I yield back,” said Murphy.

In Limbaugh’s apology to Fluke, there’s no suggestion that he had changed his mind about who should pay for contraception: Women, not the government, should pick up the tab.

Urgent Aid Needed for Myanmar

6 Mar

Medicins San Frontieres/Doctor’s Without Borders recently released a report called “Lives In The Balance,” calling for urgent funding and assistance in helping Myanmar close the devastating gap between people’s need and access to treatment for HIV and TB.

From the their website:
“Tens of thousands of people living with HIV and tuberculosis (TB) in Myanmar are unable to access lifesaving antiretroviral therapy, a dire situation exacerbated by the recent cancellation of a new round of funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.”

MRI Embroidery

4 Mar

Becky Stern had an MRI of her knee. And then embroidered it. Genius.

New Tuberculosis Center

3 Mar

ASCP Collaborates to Open New TB Testing Center in Swaziland

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

To combat the deadly combination of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) decimating its population, a new TB testing center opened on Jan. 26, 2012, in Mbabane, Swaziland. It is a collaboration of ASCP, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), University Research Corporation, and Doctors Without Borders. The facility, with high technology laboratory equipment, access control, and computerized laboratory to match the requirements of the World Health Organization (WHO), is housed within the five-story National Reference Laboratory.

Swaziland has the world’s most severe HIV/AIDS epidemic, affecting 26.3 percent of its adult population between 15 and 29 years old and 15 percent of children under the age of 15. Due to their weakened immune systems, HIV patients are more vulnerable to TB. Health officials estimate 50 percent of Swaziland’s HIV patients also have TB.

“Correct diagnoses for specific types of tuberculosis are critical in order to treat Swazi patients correctly and efficiently, and turn the tide on this devastating epidemic,” said Dr. Blair Holladay, ASCP Executive Vice President. “Erecting the new TB testing facility finally allows for timely testing to assist these patients in need. Since TB—in all its forms—is highly contagious, laboratory professionals in Swaziland also have a much safer environment to conduct the tests and reverse the current paucity in testing.”

Additionally, a recent national survey about drug resistance in Swaziland revealed a high prevalence of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB with new cases at 7 percent and re-treatment cases at 33.9 percent. MDR-TB is resistant to isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful anti-TB drugs. Affected patients require extensive chemotherapy (up to two years in treatment) with second-line anti-TB drugs, which are more costly and produce more severe drug reactions.

The high prevalence of disease and deaths among adults in their productive working years poses a serious obstacle toward economic improvement for Swaziland. Between 1990 and 2007, the average Swazi life expectancy fell by half in great part due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

To help remedy this situation in 2009, the Government of Swaziland signed the Swaziland Partnership Framework on HIV and AIDS to be undertaken from 2009 to 2013. Established between the U.S. government and the Swazi Government for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programs, the Partnership Framework aims to provide a more sustainable approach to fighting HIV/AIDS and other diseases such as TB. The Framework focuses on five pillars: developing a comprehensive national HIV prevention program; improving the coverage and quality of HIV-related treatment and care; mitigating the impacts of HIV/AIDS with a focus on children; increasing access to high-quality medical care; and building the human and institutional capacity to achieve and sustain these goals.

Click here to read the original article, as well as learn more about ASCP.