Jan 24 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: January 24

GAO Report: Number of Female Homeless Veterans Has More than Doubled in Four Years

A new General Accounting Office report released yesterday found that the number of women veterans identified as homeless more than doubled, from 1,380 in fiscal year 2006 to 3,328 in fiscal year 2010. Almost two-thirds were between 40 and 59 years old, over one-third had disabilities and many of the women live with children under age 18.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • In order to help achieve the goal of ending homelessness among veterans, the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should collaborate to ensure appropriate data are collected on homeless women veterans, and use these data to strategically plan for services.
  • In order to ensure homeless women veterans have an appropriate place to stay while they await housing placement, the Secretary of VA should ensure implementation of the agency’s referral policies.
  • To better serve the needs of homeless women veterans with children, the Secretary of VA should examine ways to improve transitional housing services for those veterans.
  • To ensure that women veterans are safely housed, the Secretary of VA should determine what gender-specific safety and security standards are needed for housing programs, especially for those serving both women and men.

Read more on military health and housing.

Online Gathering for Cancer Advocates during the State of the Union Address

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network will hold an online chat for cancer advocates during the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Information during the chat will include updates on 2012 cancer issue campaigns. Get more cancer news.

Only One in Four Teens Regularly Uses Sunscreen

Children who have had sunburn at an early age are at almost double the risk for developing melanoma in adulthood, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Despite that, a new study in the journal Pediatrics found that half of 360 children for whom sunscreen data was recorded in Massachusetts had sunburn before age 11. The researchers followed up with the same group three years later and found that their rates of sunburn remained high and that sunscreen use had dropped to 25 percent. The authors say that studies are needed to determine how best to promote sun protection in settings that attract teens such as beaches, after-school sites and sporting events. Read more on children's health.

GAO Report: Federal Agencies Tackling Prescription Pain Reliever Abuse Need to Better Coordinate Efforts

Agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration use a variety of strategies to educate prescribers about issues related to increasing abuse of prescription pain relievers, but more education is needed, according to a new report from the General Accounting Office.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is working to develop a legislative proposal to require education for prescribers who register with the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe controlled substances. The GAO recommends that the Director of ONDCP establish outcome metrics and implement a plan to evaluate proposed educational efforts, and ensure that agencies share lessons learned. Read more on prescription drugs.

Tags: Cancer, Housing, Military, News roundups, Pediatrics, Prescription drugs, Public health