Category Archives: Public Health

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

April 29, 2017 – 10AM to 2PM

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications.

A number of agencies, pharmacies, organizations and others across South Carolina are joining the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to give the public its 13th opportunity in 7 years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

Find a location near you by visiting the DEA Diversion Website and bring your pills for disposal.  (The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches.)  The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last October, Americans turned in 366 tons (over 730,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,200 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,000 of its state and local law enforcement partners.  Overall, in its 12 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 7.1 million pounds—more than 3,500 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 29 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website.

The value of immunizations for infants can’t be overstated

Immunizations save lives. There is no denying it: Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases.

Just consider some of the milestones shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age 2.
  • In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles and, unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Many physicians today have never seen a case of the measles.
  • Among children born during 1994-2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes. It also saves about $13.5 billion in direct costs.
  • The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.

The importance of immunizations

Immunizations play a valuable role in protecting the health of not only our children, but families and communities. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

The success of vaccines in preventing disease can’t be overstated. Each year we pause to observe National Infant Immunization Week, which this year runs from April 22-29.  It is a time to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States.  It is also a time to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring all children are fully protected from vaccine-preventable diseases through immunization.

Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. For example, measles is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa, and travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the United States. It’s easy for measles to spread when it reaches communities in the United States — or anywhere else — where groups of people are unvaccinated.

The best way to protect against childhood diseases

Remember, giving babies the recommended immunizations by age 2 is the best way to protect them from serious diseases, like whooping cough and measles.  Talk to your health care provider about what vaccines are recommended for your child, and make sure you keep all immunization and well-child appointments.  For more information about how to protect your child with immunizations, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/protecting-children/index.html.

Make getting vaccinations less stressful

Even though you know you are keeping her safe from diseases, it’s hard to see your child cry when she gets her shots. But you can take some steps to make the process less stressful.

The CDC suggests trying the following tips before, during and after shots:

For babies and younger children

  • Distract and comfort your child by cuddling, singing or talking softly.
  • Smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is OK.
  • Comfort your child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar will help your child feel more comfortable.
  • Hold your child firmly on your lap, whenever possible.

For older children and adolescents

  • Take deep breaths with your child to help “blow out” the pain.
  • Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions.
  • Tell or read stories. Be sure to pack their favorite book!
  • Support your child if he or she cries. Never scold a child for not “being brave.”

Champions of the Environment Merit Winner: Montessori School of Anderson Compost Initiative

by
Charles Jordan
Montessori School of Anderson

This is the fifth of a series of blog posts recognizing winners of the 2016 Champions of the Environment awards.

At the Montessori School of Anderson, environmental education is an important aspect of our curriculum. Montessori philosophy encourages children to be self-directed and follow their interests. If we can provide a school environment with opportunities for children to discover the outdoors, we are planting seeds for a healthy environment. The inspiration for MSA’s Champions of the Environment project was food. We realized that after lunches and snacks, we had scrap food that was going to the landfill. This was a missed opportunity for replenishing nutrients in our garden’s soil! Through our composting project, our students are learning how red wiggler worms and bacteria can break down scrap and spoiled food into something useful and beneficial to the soil. Students learned that the worm castings not only return nutrients to the soil but they can help break up clumps of soil to allow air and water to pass through. They were surprised by some of the statistics that shows how much money families can save by composting. The students were given a lesson about the efficiency of red wigglers and how to assemble a worm bin. The class has created two vermiculture bins to compare and contrast the vermicomposting and hot composting methods.

The best part of our project is the campus-wide involvement across grades from K3 to 12th. The most challenging part of this project has been educating teachers and students about the importance of composting and what can be added to a compost pile. We think that this project will have lasting impacts beyond this school year. One of our goals is to grow crops, such as alfalfa and buckwheat that can be added to our compost in addition to food scraps, to create a continuous supply of compost for our gardens. Each level offers a daily morning snack and the students are responsible for preparing their own snack. Our aim is to create an environment where our students can grow, harvest, clean and prepare the food that they have grown. This will help them have a greater understanding of where their food comes from and how easy and rewarding it is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. If you want to start your own environmental education project, we suggest start planning and building community involvement early for your project to continue being successful after its launch.

Maternal and Child Health shares information, tips for NPHW

During this National Public Health Week (April 3-9), divisions of the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health want to take a moment to highlight some programs as well as provide key information encouraging good health practices.

 Division of Children’s Health: First Sound

First Sound is South Carolina’s early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) program. All babies delivered in birthing hospitals are screened for hearing loss before going home. Some babies will need further evaluation to confirm results.

It is very important that babies are screened and, if recommended, follow up with further testing. Hearing loss occurs in newborn infants more frequently than any other health condition for which screening is required. Hearing is extremely important for the development of speech and language skills. Early detection of hearing loss enables the infant to receive early intervention services to avoid developmental delays in speech and language. Age-appropriate language development is essential to success in school.

Women, Infants and Children program (WIC)

WIC is a special supplemental nutrition program that also provides breastfeeding information, support and assistance.

  • WIC offers a positive clinic environment that supports breastfeeding
  • WIC mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their infants, unless there is a medical reason not to.
  • WIC mothers choosing to breastfeed are provided support and information through peer counselors, certified lactation counselors and other experts. Support groups, classes and breastfeeding educational materials are also available.
  • Breastfeeding mothers are eligible to participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers.
  • Breastfeeding mothers can receive breast pumps and other supplies, if appropriate, to help with the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding.
  • Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their infants receive an enhanced food package.

Division of Oral Health: A few brief messages dental health

  • Prevent tooth decay by brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Pregnant women need to visit the dentist regularly even when pregnant.
  • Drink from the tap. Drinking fluoridated water is an easy way to prevent tooth decay.

Division of Women’s Health: Take precautions against Zika

The CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika risk.

  • Avoid traveling to affected regions, especially if you are or are trying to become pregnant.
  • Travelers should wear repellent for at least two weeks after returning because that’s how long the virus stays in a person’s bloodstream.
  • If a mosquito bites a person who has Zika in their blood, that mosquito can pick up the virus and pass it on to another human when it takes its next blood meal.
  • Travelers should also wait at least six months to have unprotected sex after visiting an area with risk of Zika because the virus can persist in semen and in the vaginal tract long after symptoms emerge.

Division of Research and Planning: Safe sleep reminder for babies

A safe sleep environment can help reduce a baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death. This is a good reminder for parents, family members and other caregivers of any infant under one year of age. This 1-minute video shows the ABC‘s of how to create a safe sleep environment for baby – Alone, on his/her Back, in a Crib (or other safety approved sleep surface):  https://youtu.be/Rs9Jw3uIoaU.

For more information

Visit the DHEC website for more information on the agency’s observance of National Public Health Week. You can also go to the official National Public Health Week website.

DHEC’s environmental staff plays a role in improving public health

National Public Health Week (April 3-9) is a time to highlight the importance of public health, promote better health practices among residents — and, of course, celebrate those who work so hard in the field. Staff all across DHEC work to preserve and improve public health. That includes those in our environmental and environmental health programs.

DHEC’s environmental and environmental health programs provide many services that enhance and protect public health. They ensure that the following — and so much more — meet state regulatory requirements: the pools we swim in, the restaurants we eat in, the shippers that handle our shellfish, the landfills we take our trash to, the underground storage tanks that store our gasoline, the wastewater plants that treat our sewage, the drinking water plants that treat our water, the facilities that hold air permits, and the facilities that generate hazardous waste.

With offices located across the state, we are able to provide exceptional customer service, accountability, efficiency and response to regulated entities, local governments and members of the community.  We issue permits, inspect, sample, monitor and analyze as well as investigate complaints. Our day-to-day duties include:

  • Air quality monitoring, modeling and forecasting
  • Industrial air emissions permitting and compliance
  • Stormwater and wastewater permitting and compliance
  • Asbestos awareness and compliance
  • Dam safety
  • Drinking water protection
  • Hazardous, radioactive and infectious waste management
  • Onsite wastewater permitting and licensing
  • Rabies prevention
  • Food protection
  • Dairy and manufactured food protection
  • Laboratory certification
  • Lead risk assessment
  • Oil, chemical and nuclear emergency response programs
  • Air, water, wastewater, soil, fish, milk and dairy analysis
  • Complaint investigation

Visit the DHEC website for more information on the agency’s observance of National Public Health Week. You can also go to the official National Public Health Week website.