U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said the minister of health of the People’s Republic of China agreed today to increase cooperation with the United States and global health officials to combat and learn more about the spread and origin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In a 45-minute telephone conversation with Health Minister Zhang Wenkang, M.D., Secretary Thompson said the United States and HHS are “truly committed to this being a collaborative effort with China.”
The U.S. government announced that it will begin testing a system using handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) for transmitting urgent information about biological agents to clinicians. The three-month pilot test of the PDA network is designed to gauge the best ways for federal officials to communicate effectively with front-line clinicians in the event of a bioterrorist attack. The project will evaluate how and when clinicians download this urgent information and whether they find it useful to receive it via their PDAs. “This important new project will allow us to harness the power of technology to communicate with many of the doctors, nurses, and other clinicians who will be called on to diagnose and treat patients quickly in the event of a bioterrorist attack,” HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said.
Americans’ life expectancy hit an all-time high in 2001, while age-adjusted deaths hit an all-time low, according to a new report released today by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. The report from HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents that the national age-adjusted death rate decreased slightly from 869 deaths per 100,000 population in 2000 to 855 deaths per 100,000 in 2001. There were declines in mortality among most racial, ethnic and gender groups.
The U.S. government today proposed a plan to create a smallpox vaccination compensation program to provide benefits to public health and medical response team members who are injured as a result of receiving the smallpox vaccine. It is based on a similar compensation package that is currently available to police officers and firefighters.
The annual cost of diabetes in medical expenditures and lost productivity climbed from $98 billion in 1997 to $132 billion in 2002, according to a study by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) published in the March issue of Diabetes Care. The direct medical costs of diabetes more than doubled in that time, from $44 billion in 1997 to $91.8 billion in 2002. The study’s findings were announced jointly today by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and American Diabetes Association President Francine R. Kaufman, M.D. “Diabetes continues to be a huge financial burden on patients, their families and society, a burden that continues to grow in parallel with the obesity and diabetes epidemics in this country,” Secretary Thompson said.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has announced the release of a comprehensive research plan from HHS’ National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fight autoimmune diseases, a collection of disorders including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis that affect an estimated 14 to 22 million Americans. The plan will foster research to identify genetic, environmental and infectious causes of autoimmune diseases and to develop new treatments and prevention strategies.
The Bush Administration said it will ask Congress for legislation requiring drug companies to conduct pediatric clinical trials on new medicines. Clearer legislative authority is needed, instead of pursuing appeals in the courts, the administration believes. “The fastest and most decisive route for establishing clear authority in this area is to work with Congress for new legislation,” Secretary Tommy Thompson said. “Children are a special population that need to have access to drugs that can benefit them, and these drugs need to be properly tested for pediatric use, not prescribed and sold without testing. Congress alone can speak clearly on the authority that FDA needs and the provisions that may be appropriate for drug manufacturers when they are required to carry out these tests.”
HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today invited all persons with questions about smallpox and the President’s vaccination plan to visit www.smallpox.gov for comprehensive and up-to-the-minute information. “This is a complicated issue that involves a careful balance between the possibility that smallpox might actually be released at some time by terrorists, and the known risks that are associated with the vaccine itself,” Secretary Thompson said. “I know from my own experience that this issue is complex and difficult, and we need to have answers easily available.”