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PHI in the News

What’s Next in the Fight to End Child Marriage in Guatemala?

October 04, 2017 | Claudia Romeu, Rise Up | Ms. Magazine

Guatemala has taken a huge step forward for girls, officially outlawing child marriage following years of advocacy by activists and girl leaders. New legislation closes a major loophole in the law, a major victory for girls in a country that has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Latin America.

Starting in 2013, PHI's Rise Up began investing in girl-led advocacy to pressure Guatemalan law makers to increase the minimum age of marriage to 18 years. This campaign led to the first big step towards banning child marriage in Guatemala, a law that increased the legal age of marriage to 18 in November 2015. However, a major loophole in the law allowed for girls and boys 16 to 18 years old to be legally married with the consent of a family judge. But girl leaders and civil society activists refused to give up, continuing in their fight to end child marriage.   more

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation gives $100,000 toward monitoring pollution at Salton Sea

September 20, 2017 | Ian James | The Desert Sun

Efforts by community members and PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program to monitor air quality in California's Imperial County are getting a boost from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which is providing a $100,000 grant to support an expanding network of air pollution monitors there. The new funding will help keep the network operating and will pay for 20 more monitors, which provide air quality information to the public at a time when the nearby Salton Sea is shrinking—producing large amounts of dust and intensifying a public health crisis in the area.

Learn more in this article and accompanying video by The Desert Sun.  more

Study: Rise In Marijuana Use Not Caused By Legalization

September 14, 2017 | Tom Angell | Forbes

Marijuana use has risen sharply among adults in the U.S., but instead of being caused by laws legalizing the use of medical or recreational marijuana, the trend is primarily explained by decreasing disapproval of marijuana use. That's the main finding of a study by PHI's Alcohol Research Group published this week in the journal Addiction. Read more in this Forbes article.  more

Marijuana Use in the U.S. Has Increased, But Not Because of Legislation, Study Says

September 12, 2017 | Robert Valencia | Newsweek

American adults are smoking more pot, but increased cannabis use does not appear to be due to wider availability of legal marijuana, a new study from PHI's Alcohol Research Group shows.

"Results ...did not show significant increases in use related to medicinal marijuana legislation,” lead investigator William Kerr said in a statement. “It appears that the passage of these policies reflects changing attitudes toward marijuana use, rather than the other way around.”  more

Image: Kaiser Health News

California needs health-care workers, and it’s asking for help

August 23, 2017 | Anna Gorman, California Healthline | The Los Angeles Daily News

Health and education leaders across California have joined forces with business and labor leaders to address workforce shortages in health care through the newly unveiled California Future Health Workforce Commission. PHI's Kevin Barnett, co-director of the commission, says in this Los Angeles Daily News article that among other things, home health care workers should earn a higher wage to improve retention and that more workers are needed outside the clinical setting to address upstream issues that lead to poor health.  more

Veteran advocate worked to erase health care disparities for many

August 21, 2017 | Cathie Anderson | The Sacramento Bee

This obituary honors the personal and professional legacy of Mario Gutierrez, executive director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy, who died unexpectedly on August 16 in Sacramento.

Mario’s passion was clear: to make sure that every person, no matter how poor or how isolated, could access high-quality healthcare. His groundbreaking work researching and supporting telehealth innovations has helped children in remote rural communities receive life-saving treatment from world-renowned physicians, and has explored the potential of connecting health care providers in Mexico with undocumented individuals needing care in California. His contributions to the field have saved lives, and his loss will leave a significant void. But the loss of his generous nature, his kindness, sense of humor and overall humanity will be what is most keenly missed.

Read more in this Sacramento Bee obituary.  more

Non-Profit Hospitals and the Health of Surrounding Communities

August 16, 2017 | WCPN's The Sound of Ideas

Access to affordable, high-quality health care is critical in creating healthier populations. Yet much of what makes people healthy is determined outside the doctor’s office—from education and housing to safety and healthy food access. What role should hospitals play in improving these social determinants of health?

PHI President and CEO Mary Pittman joined WCPN's The Sound of Ideas program to discuss why hospitals are getting into the "zip code improvement business" and why community conditions such as safe streets and healthy housing are critical to health.  more

Kent County Health Department's "Health Lens" focuses on Health in All Policies

August 16, 2017 | Patrick Center | WGVU

Julia Caplan, head of PHI's California Health in All Policies team, was recently at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, talking to local public and private leaders about how high rates of chronic disease like obesity, diabetes and cancers among young people need to be addressed, explaining that policy can curb economic and societal burdens on the health care system.  more

Americans Are Drinking More Than Ever and It’s Costing the U.S. Billions

August 09, 2017 | Fortune

Americans are drinking more than they used to. The number of adults who binge drink at least once a week could be as high as 30 million, according to a new study. William Kerr, senior scientist at PHI's Alcohol Research Group, comments on what could be done to reduce consumption: making alcohol more costly by increasing taxes or setting minimum prices.  more

IEPS a bebidas azucaradas opera con éxito en otros países: expertas

August 08, 2017 | Belen M. Saldivar | El Economista

A recent study by PHI and the University of North Carolina, showing that sugar drink purchase in Berkeley decreased 9.6% in the first year of that city's soda tax, is highlighted in this El Economista article on the success of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes in the U.S. PHI's Lynn Silver, lead author on the study, said the fight against obesity needs to include not only sugary drink taxes, but also public awareness campaigns, limits on the size of sugary beverages and warnings on drink labels. Click to read the article (in Spanish).  more

100 Percent Renewables: For a Healthful California

August 07, 2017 | Napa Valley Register

PHI President and CEO Mary Pittman co-authored an op-ed on the importance of renewable energy with Richard Allen Williams, M.D., president of the National Medical Association and founder of the Association of Black Cardiologists. "Our energy system is one of the biggest sources of climate pollution. So, the faster we transition from the dirty energy sources of the past to clean, renewable energy, the better able we will be to protect our communities from large-scale climate catastrophe (think coastal flooding, extreme heat, wildfires and storms, and widespread food and water shortages)," they say.  more

Telemedicine Laws Gain Momentum With Passage in 2 More States

August 02, 2017 | Eric Wicklund | mHealthIntelligence

Two more U.S. states have telehealth laws on the books, following the lead of other states codifying telemedicine and stipulating what types of technology can and cannot be used. A recent report from PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) found more than 200 telehealth-related bills that had been introduced in 44 states so far this year.  more

California Strengthens Its Role as Leader on Climate Change: State Steps Up As Federal Support Lags

August 01, 2017 | Kim Krisberg | The Nation's Health

An agricultural worker prunes a grapevine in April in Windsor, California. A record winter rainfall ended the state’s five-year drought, which has been linked to climate change. California is one of the states leading the charge on combating climate change, particularly now that federal action has stalled. Photo by George Rose, Getty Images.A growing, multisector policy framework at the state and local levels underscores California’s climate change efforts. Linda Rudolph, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Climate Change and Health at California’s Public Health Institute, said California has “taken the climate problem to heart” because in many ways, the state is on the front lines of climate-related impacts. Scientists warn that California is at risk for a range of climate effects, including sea level rise, more frequent and intense wildfires, more drought, drinking water contamination and worsening air quality.

“Just take drought,” said Rudolph, an APHA member. “Other states haven’t seen droughts that led to thousands of poor rural households running out of tap water and local health departments having to put in place systems for community showers… There’s a recognition here that climate change is real, it’s happening and it really is impacting people.”  more

Photo: David Goldman/AP

CDC may face double jeopardy with Senate health bill

July 27, 2017 | Lev Facher | STAT

PHI and other leading public health organizations responded to efforts in the Senate to defund the Prevention and Public Health Fund—which makes up 12% of the CDC's budget—in a letter quoted in this STAT article: “Slashing public health and prevention funding would increase preventable suffering and death, make the poorest and sickest communities fall even further behind, and leave our country far less prepared for and capable of responding to public health emergencies.”  more

In Response: Watered down facts on soda tax

July 14, 2017 | Lynn Silver | The San Diego Union-Tribune

PHI's Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, writes in a letter to the editor that a recent op-ed by a vice president of the American Beverage Association misrepresented the findings of a study she authored on the soda tax in Berkeley. The ABA "understands marketing better than science," she says, noting that the analyses showed declines in sugary drink purchases while the city's food sector revenue grew.  more

Artwork by Diana Ofosu

The hidden toxic threat in America’s backyards

July 12, 2017 | Yvette Cabrera | ThinkProgress

Childhood lead poisoning dramatically decreased across America as the federal government began phasing out leaded gasoline in the 1970s. But many children are still being exposed today because of lead’s legacy: polluted environments, particularly in urban areas. As the issue recedes from public consciousness, lead exposure is still harming children in complex ways. ThinkProgress takes an in depth look at the toll on one community, and explores research from PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program, which found that states across the country are severely undercounting and underreporting the number of lead-burdened children. 


Telemedicine Is Wide-Reaching But Doesn’t Always Replace Doctor’s Touch

July 07, 2017 | Elaine Korry | California Healthline

Regulators have been limiting insurance plans from being able to utilize telehealth to its fullest, even though California passed legislation in 2011 recognizing telehealth as appropriate care, said Mario Gutierrez, executive director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy in this California Healthline article.  more

Photo: Kellen Browning/California Healthline

Why Teens Are Smoking Less, In Their Own Words

July 05, 2017 | Kellen Browning | KQED

Despite declining teen smoking rates, anti-smoking advocates need to remain vigilant to counteract tobacco companies’ advertising, says Alison Chopel, director of PHI's California Adolescent Health Collaborative, in this KQED article. CAHC's research has found that flavors of e-cigarettes such as “Mango Tango” and “Watermelon Wave” entice teens.  more

Eric Paul Zamora / The Fresno Bee

Fresno’s city parks need a champion

June 25, 2017 | Genoveva Islas | The Fresno Bee

"The benefits of parks are numerous, yet parks are non-existent in some portions of Fresno, depriving these neighborhoods of assets to health promotion, mental wellness, centers for celebration, and property values, among other value-adds," says Genoveva Islas, director of PHI's Cultiva La Salud, in this op-ed in The Fresno Bee. Islas calls for a better parks system in the city—one that is equitable for all neighborhoods.  more

The Paradox of the Sugar Tax: How Buying a Soda Benefits Services for the Poor

June 19, 2017 | Martha C. White | NBC News

A recent study by PHI and the University of North Carolina showing that the sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Berkeley has been successful in curbing consumption of sugary drinks is included in this NBC News article on soda taxes around the country, which also highlights an additional analysis by PHI's Lynn Silver finding that employment in the food industry in Berkeley also rose following implementation of the tax.  more

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