This Week @ Gillings: The Abstract

September 7, 2021

Whether you’re local or global, student or alumni, the Abstract’s weekly news digest will help you stay in the loop with our amazing Gillings School community.

Louden wins Central South Carolina Mensa Scholarship

Adia Louden, MPH

Adia Louden

Congratulations to Adia Louden, MPH, a doctoral student in maternal and child health, who has been awarded the Central South Carolina Mensa scholarship.

The Mensa Foundation Scholarship Program is an essay contest open to all students who reside within the boundaries of a participating American Mensa Local Group and who are enrolled in a United States college or university the following academic year. The Central South Carolina Mensa chapter awards a scholarship to a student who demonstrates a desire for scholastic achievement. The U.S Scholarship Program awards scholarships at the local, regional and national levels, with a value of more than $100,000 every year.

Brown named to The Lancet Commission on water, sanitation and hygiene, and health

This week, The Lancet has announced a new Commission on water, sanitation and hygiene and health. The aim of the Commission is to reimagine and reconstitute water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) not only as a central pillar of public health, but also as a pathway to gender equality and social and environmental justice. The work of the Commission will be informed by the latest evidence but will also be grounded in critical reflection on the evolution and priorities of this global sector.

Dr. Joe Brown

Dr. Joe Brown

Joe Brown, PhD, PE, assistant professor of environmental sciences and engineering, is a member of an international consortium of health researchers named to this commission that will be producing a series of high-profile papers on this topic.

The commission has three priority areas of focus, according to The Lancet‘s article.

“First, the necessity of achieving universal access to at least safely managed WaSH services must be clearly argued. The continued pursuit of narrow, low-cost household interventions in the face of growing evidence of their insufficiency distracts from the central challenge of building national systems capable of delivering universal access to safely managed services. The Commission will assess the health, social and environmental consequences of slow progress towards universal access to safely managed WaSH services, and delineate the scale and distribution of these deficits.

“Second, the cost of achieving universal access to at least safely managed WaSH services will be immense but so too are the potential benefits. The Commission will assess the financial costs of achieving universal access to at least safely managed services, as well as other barriers to progress. But we will also provide a comprehensive assessment of the potential benefits of such an achievement, encompassing public health gains, financial returns through improvements in human capital and productivity, and other benefits relating to social and environmental justice and gender equality.

“Third, the Commission will make concrete recommendations for reform focused on the establishment of national systems that are capable of both professionalized delivery of WaSH services for all and responding to key challenges such as climate change and rapid urbanization. Public health, gender equality, and broader social and environmental justice will be at the heart of our recommendations. The focus will be global, recognizing that WaSH-related inequalities exist in high-income countries and low-and-middle-income countries, as does the potential for further health and social gains.”

Read more about The Lancet’s WaSH commission on their website.

Turpin named to EPA panel on particulate matter

Dr. Barbara Turpin

Dr. Barbara Turpin

Barbara Turpin, PhD, professor and chair of environmental sciences and engineering, has been named to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee‘s (CASAC) 2021 Particulate Matter (PM) Panel. This panel will provide independent advice through the CASAC on updates to the science and policy assessments supporting the agency’s reconsideration of the December 2020 decision to retain the PM National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

In June, the EPA announced that it will “reconsider the previous administration’s decision to retain the PM National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which were last strengthened in 2012. The EPA is reconsidering the December 2020 decision because available scientific evidence and technical information indicate that the current standards may not be adequate to protect public health and welfare, as required by the Clean Air Act.”

According to the EPA, “as part of this process, the agency will develop a supplement to the 2019 Final Integrated Science Assessment that will take into account the most up-to-date science, including new studies in the emerging area of COVID-related research. This supplement will be reviewed at a public meeting by the chartered CASAC, supported by a particulate matter review panel of scientific experts on the health and welfare impacts of PM. The CASAC and the PM panel will also review a revised policy assessment and formulate advice to the Administrator.”

Wilson co-founds harm reduction center in South Africa

Michael Wilson, 2014 health behavior alumnus, has co-founded the Bellhaven Harm Reduction Centre in Durban, the third-largest city in South Africa. The Bellhaven Centre is South Africa’s first comprehensive harm reduction center, which opened during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown and currently serves approximately 200 people a day.

Bellhaven is an evidence-based harm reduction center serving individuals who have low income or are experiencing homelessness. It provides methadone treatment to individuals seeking to overcome drug use disorders. With clinical, psychosocial and public health staff on hand, the care provided to individuals who use Bellhaven’s services is in line with the guidance of the World Health Organization.

Learn more about Wilson’s work in Durban during the pandemic.

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