HHS discusses initiatives prompted by President Obama’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government
WASHINGTON The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday described how the agency is following through on President Barack Obama’s three principles for promoting a transparent and open government — transparency, participation and collaboration — citing the YouTube PSA contest for promoting the H1N1 vaccine as one example. Other examples included information streaming of HHS biomedical research innovation and IdeaLab, an Web-based peer-to-peer program that serves as a clearinghouse for collaborative networking for employees of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“These examples illustrate our commitment to the President’s vision of promoting accountability, collaboration and public engagement,” stated HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “By working together in a transparent manner, we have developed programs that are making real contributions to creating and adopting impactful solutions that protect and improve people’s health.”
The “YouTube Know What to Do About the Flu and Prevention PSA Contest” reached populations most vulnerable to the H1N1 flu virus — young teens and adults — to take proactive actions such as washing your hands and getting a flu shot. The PSA contest provided a venue to encourage families and students to get involved and reached a large audience with a creative outlet and humor, on a serious subject. More than 250 videos were submitted for review and the winning PSA was featured on national television.
“Our PSA Contest tapped the creativity and energy that thrives on YouTube,” stated acting assistant secretary for public affairs Jenny Backus. “We engaged people and they in turn engaged each other. Our important messages about how to prevent the flu reached a new audience of people at increased risk from the H1N1 virus.”
These initiatives are in direct response to the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government the President issued on Jan. 21.
Autopsies reveal H1N1 virus can damage entire airway
NEW YORK Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner on Monday reported that the H1N1 virus can damage cells throughout the respiratory airway, similar to the pandemics occurring in 1918 and 1957.
“This study provides clinicians with a clear and detailed picture of the disease caused by 2009 H1N1 influenza virus that will help inform patient management,” stated Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “In fatal cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza, it appears the novel pandemic influenza virus produces pulmonary damage that looks very much like that seen in earlier influenza pandemics.”
The new report also underscores the impact 2009 H1N1 influenza is having on younger people. While most deaths from seasonal influenza occur in adults over 65 years old, deaths from 2009 H1N1 influenza occur predominately among younger people. The majority of deaths (62%) in the 34 cases studied were among those 25 to 49 years old; two infants were also among the fatal cases.
The scientists reviewed autopsy reports, hospital records and other clinical data from 34 people who died of 2009 H1N1 influenza infection between May 15 and July 9, 2009. All but two of the deaths occurred in New York. A microscopic examination of tissues throughout the airways revealed that the virus caused damage primarily to the upper airway — the trachea and bronchial tubes — but tissue damage in the lower airway, including deep in the lungs, was present as well. Evidence of secondary bacterial infection was seen in more than half of the victims.
Nine-out-of-ten of those autopsied had underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease or respiratory disease, including asthma, before becoming ill with 2009 H1N1 influenza; and 72% of the adults and adolescents who died were obese.
The findings are reported in the Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, now available online and scheduled to appear in the February 2010 print issue.
Duane Reade keeps H1N1 protection a high priority
NEW YORK The Duane Reade at 57th St. & 6th Ave. in Manhattan is selling bottles of hand sanitizer from bowls mounted atop the stanchion posts near the cash registers. Though fears of H1N1 have not yet faded, the onset of the normal flu season still makes hand sanitizers an essential item, thus warranting their placement in such prime retail estate.