Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dr. Koh Confirmed as HHS Assistant Secretary for Health

Koh confirmed as assistant secretary at HHS
By Jennifer Lubell
Posted: June 22, 2009 - 11:00 am EDT

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the Senate’s confirmation of Howard Koh, 57, as HHS’ assistant secretary for health.

The former Massachusetts public health commissioner “is a world-renowned public health expert and physician who has devoted his career to promoting prevention and wellness policies and reducing health disparities,” Sebelius said in a written statement. “He will be an outstanding assistant secretary for health, and we look forward to his expertise and advice when it comes to making America’s families healthier and our health system stronger.”

Koh, an associate dean for public health practice and director of the division of public health practice at the Harvard School of Public Health, will oversee major health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health. He will also serve as the leading health adviser to the HHS secretary.

Koh previously served as Massachusetts’ public health commissioner from 1997 to 2003. At the Harvard School of Public Health, Koh has served as a principal investigator of multiple research grants related to community-based participatory research, cancer prevention, health disparities, tobacco control and emergency preparedness.

The Yale School of Medicine alumnus completed his postgraduate training and chief residencies at Boston City Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and has earned board certification in internal medicine, hematology, medical oncology and dermatology, as well as a master’s degree in public health.

First Asian H1N1 Death

It's on everyone's mind: Swine flu, or H1N1 flu. What we have to understand is that media coverage in other countries is by no means similar to how it is within the United States. During my trip to China, every time I turned on the TV, I'd hear about someone being quarantined, or how many new cases have popped up. So you wonder how much worse things are going to get once this hits:

First Asian Swine Flu Death Reported

The first swine flu death in Asia is being reported in the Philippines. A 49-year-old woman with heart and liver ailments has died after contracting the virus.

The woman died at her home on Friday, June 19, two days after she first showed symptoms of the virus.

post-autopsy results show that the death was caused by congestive heart failure and pneumonia...

and not H1N1 directly, there's no telling how this piece of news will affect government regulation and action regarding this pandemic.

A more personal story about my experiences with the swine flu scare in China coming up later.

Illinois legislation to create colorectal screening and threat

eNews Park Forest, "Riley, Demuzio Team Up to Create Cancer Screening

June 22, 2009


Springfield, IL-(ENEWSPF)- State Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields) and
state Sen. Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville) passed legislation out of both
chambers of the General Assembly this session to create the Colorectal
Cancer Screening and Treatment Pilot Program in parts of the state with
the highest number of deaths due to colon cancer.

"People without insurance coverage need to be tested for this too-often
fatal cancer before it is too late," Riley said. "Illinois residents are
dying everyday because of a lack of awareness of colon cancer and
because they are unable to afford potentially life-saving screening and

Under Senate Bill 270, the Department of Public Health will provide
grants for the colorectal cancer screening and tests in areas that have
high rates of fatal colorectal cancer. The screening and treatment will
be provided to people without health insurance who are 50 years of age
or have a high risk of colon cancer. Testing will also be available to
those who have exhausted their current health insurance benefits. The
program will spread public information about the importance of screening
and reach out to people eligible for the program in participating

"Colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, which is why regular screening
is so important," said Demuzio. "I lost my husband to this disease and I
want to do everything I can to help prevent others from dying of colon

The bill had support from the American Cancer Society.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the 3rd
most commonly diagnosed cancer among Illinois residents and causes over
3,000 deaths a year. Screening is essential to catch the cancer in its
early stages and reduces mortality by detecting a higher proportion of
cancers when they are more treatable.

"Screening and early detection will lead to successful treatment for
colon cancer," said Dr. K. Thomas Robbins, Director of the SIU Cancer
Institute at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. "Senate
Bill 270 is a worthy program that will save lives and cost to the health
care system."

"I am passionate about seeing this bill become law because I have no
doubt it will save lives," said Sheila Strong, American Cancer Society
advocacy volunteer. "I have lost dear friends and loved ones to this
disease. How many more people have to die because they can't afford
life-saving screening? Like the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer
program that has saved the lives of so many, I truly hope to see this
measure have that same success."

Senate Bill 270 was sent to the governor's desk for his signature on
June 12.