July 28 is World Hepatitis Day, and this year’s theme is “Hepatitis Can’t Wait.” This theme was chosen by the World Hepatitis Alliance because testing, vaccination, and treatment for hepatitis can’t wait, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In South Carolina, hepatitis continues to be a major health burden on many in our communities. Chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to liver disease, cancer and death if untreated. Hepatitis A, while usually a mild illness, has caused increased hospitalizations during the ongoing outbreak in South Carolina that began in 2018.
In 2019, 527 cases of chronic hepatitis B and 7,022 cases of chronic hepatitis C were diagnosed in South Carolina. Additionally, 2,000 hepatitis A cases have been identified since the outbreak began in November 2018.
The best way to prevent viral hepatitis infection and liver damage is to be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B and to be screened for hepatitis C. People diagnosed with hepatitis C can be cured of the infection, and the risk of further liver damage can be reduced.
Hepatitis can’t wait, and we can all do our part to reduce the burden of hepatitis in our communities.
To learn more about hepatitis, please click here. To find hepatitis, STD and HIV services in your areas, please click here.
DHEC’s Division of Tobacco Control and Prevention and the Midlands Community Systems team recently celebrated with community partners for Lancaster County going tobacco free. Congratulations and a big thank you to our community partners in Lancaster County, especially the Lancaster County Health and Wellness commission, for all they have done to protect residents from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
In 2013, Lancaster became the first county in the state to ban indoor smoking at its public facilities and municipal government. Many other public agencies also adopted tobacco-free policies at that time. In 2019, three remaining public entities needed to adopt tobacco-free policies for the county to be considered fully tobacco-free – the first such county in South Carolina.
The Division of Tobacco Control and Prevention and the Midlands Community Systems team were able to offer support and resources to help Lancaster County achieve this incredible milestone. By July 2020, the three remaining entities passed tobacco free polices.
To celebrate and show our appreciation for all the hard work achieved by our partners, we provided tobacco free signs to all seven entities. A billboard on I-77 also recognized this accomplishment.
On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, where they shared the news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free. The Emancipation Proclamation had officially ended slavery in the states fighting against the Union on January 1, 1863, but it only took effect when Union forces took control of an area. Of note, the first area it took effect was Beaufort and surrounding islands, since the Union already held this area.
Galveston and the surrounding area of Texas was the last area to fall to Union forces, so June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth) marks the end of slavery in the South. This event led to Juneteenth as the nationally celebrated remembrance of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Juneteenth is a holiday that has many meanings for the community, and DHEC’s Public Health Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Deputy Area of Environmental Affairs are recognizing the important role African Americans have had and continue to have in the fields of environmental protection and public health. This includes, here at home in South Carolina.
At DHEC, we are committed to building upon our agency’s existing internal structures and community relationships as well as creating new ones to enhance health equity in South Carolina and better reach our vulnerable communities. While work is ongoing, we recognize that we all must continue to take actions to proactively address long-standing equity gaps and reduce disparities.
Many today celebrate this holiday by having educational programs and fellowshipping with family and friends. Some communities also raise the Juneteenth flag, which highlights this day’s connection to Texas, African Americans, and the reminder that those that were enslaved, and their descendants, were and are Americans.
May is National Trauma Awareness Month, and the American Trauma Society (ATS) has deemed this year’s theme “Safe & Secure: Safety is a Choice, Prevention is Key.”
Most injuries are preventable, and it takes us as individuals to be aware of our surroundings, informed of current practices and methods, and encouraging others to practice safety and prevention. Luckily, DHEC has a number of employees who have dedicated their careers to teaching the public and healthcare providers what it means to prevent injury and traumas.
Child Passenger Safety Program
Did you know that DHEC has a Child Passenger Safety Program? Its purpose is to educate parents and the community, public health offices, and partner organization on how to properly install various child safety seats, including booster seats, to prevent child trauma in vehicular accidents.
Child Passenger Safety Technicians will explain potential dangers for children who are not properly restrained and will serve as a valuable resource for child passenger safety. Karen Moore is a Child Passenger Safety Technician and partners with Safe Kids Worldwide.
Healthcare Systems and Services
DHEC’S Bureau of Healthcare Systems and Services is doing great work with South Carolina’s healthcare providers and the community. Within the bureau is the division of EMS, which is gearing up for EMS Week, May 16th-22nd, 2021.
Each day during EMS Week has a different theme, and May 19th is EMS for Children Day. Karen is also the interim manager for Emergent Care and coordinates the EMS for Children program at DHEC. She is actively involved with the mission to improve performance measures and healthcare outcomes for children through education and training for EMS personnel and hospital providers.
EMS for Children
The EMS for Children program focuses on prevention in many, if not all, of its initiatives.
The program holds an annual Pediatric Trauma & Injury Prevention Symposium as a collaboration with the South Carolina Trauma Association. This year marked the 11th annual symposium, which was held in early March. Presentations and topics varied from pediatric burn prevention, traumatic brain injury among children, to new advances in early trauma management.
This training helps providers in the field stay up to date with the latest data, equipment advances, and prevention & treatment protocol.
Stop the Bleed
Also among EMS for Children’s initiatives is the Stop the Bleed program, which has its own observance on May 20th during EMS Week (May 16-22).
Stop the Bleed is an annual observance that focuses on training the public how to stop traumatic bleeding. Participants will learn how to apply pressure to a wound, pack a wound to control bleeding, and apply a tourniquet.
The training is open to anyone and offered by a number of organizations; DHEC partners with the American Red Cross. Being trained to Stop the Bleed can mean preventing further injury or death for a traumatically injured person waiting for help from professionals. To find out more about the Stop the Bleed campaign, click here to visit their website.
In observance of National Trauma Awareness Month, we’ve highlighted a few ways DHEC is working to prevent injury, disability, and fatal outcomes in the community. Please check out the links to learn more.
By providing trainings and information on these trauma prevention methods, DHEC displays the core value of Promoting Teamwork and the agency strategy of Education and Engagement.