Over the next three years, SDOS will use the grant to test and promote new models to expand dental health services in existing school-based health centers. Central to the project are partnerships with community-based providers and collaboration with parents and school administrators.
Recent reports from the U.S. Surgeon General have highlighted the large number of children and youth who do not get the care they need for dental health problems. An estimated 5 percent of children under age 18 have untreated dental problems, with that percentage rising to 39 percent for African-American children and 60 percent for Mexican-American children. An estimated 51 million hours of school are lost because of dental problems.
he Center for Public Health Preparedness at the Mailman Schoolone of the original academic centers funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2000 to link schools of public health, state and local health agencies, and other academic and community health partners to foster emergency health preparednessis expected to receive $1 million in federal funding to expand its training programs. On Jan. 10 President Bush signed bioterrorism appropriations totaling $2.9 billion, which includes $20 million in fiscal year 2002 to expand the nationwide network of Centers for Public Health Preparedness.
Tommy Thompson, U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services, praised the mission of the centers, which are designed to prepare the nations public health and healthcare workforce to respond to terrorist incidents and other emerging health threats.
In announcing the new funding, HHS specifically cited the actions of the Center for Public Health Preparedness at the Mailman School, a collaboration between the university and the New York City Department of Health. Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 800 public health nurses were deployed to manage New York City shelters. These nurses had just been trained in emergency preparedness by the center in late August 2001 in conjunction with the American Red Cross. This training proved to be invaluable, and as a result the city plans to further expand the role of the public health nurses in its disaster response plan. A generic version of this program was developed, which can be used by other departments of health.
But Mr. White, speaking at the sixth Robert J. Weiss lecture at the Mailman School of Public Health on Feb. 6, leavened his rosy outlook with a discussion about how society will address major ethical issues still surrounding medical genetic research. The main concern, he said in his remarks, is how to maintain the confidentiality of a persons genetic information.
One of the challenges is that ethics and privacy laws [for genetic data] havent been written yet, said the head of Applera, the parent company of Celera Genomics Group and Applied Biosystems Group. Genomics advances, he said, are moving faster than societys debate about the implications of such information.
Celera competed with the federally funded effort to sequence the entire human DNA sequence. The firm also sequenced the mouse genome. The company is now spending $100 million for research and is sequencing the genomes of more than 50 people and two chimpanzees to build a catalog of genetic variation.
Mr. White made it clear that he looks at genomics as a business. And as an employer, he said, he would like to know an employees genetic predispositions so he can limit his firms healthcare costs. But he realizes such an attitude might not be shared by society and most people want to protect their genetic privacy.
Putting the ethical concerns aside, the benefits of genomic information for public health are numerous, he said, enabling society to provide better care to more people around the world. The prime targets he listed for genomics applications are cholera, tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria.
Mr. White said he was encouraged by the talk he had with officials of the Mailman School concerning genomics applications to public health. This school has a pretty strong lead over other places that I go to, Mr. White said.