The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (Sept. 25)

September 25, 2015|4:52 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

Must-read news for leaders in public health.

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From the Surgeon General to Homebuyers, Everyone Wants Walkable Neighborhoods

Last Wednesday, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a call to action called Step It Up! to increase physical activity through walking. A key component of his plan is promoting walkable communities.

“Everyone deserves to have a safe place to walk or wheelchair roll. But in too many of our communities, that is not the reality,” says Murthy. “We know that an active lifestyle is critical to achieving good overall health. And walking is a simple, effective, and affordable way to build physical activity into our lives. That is why we need to step it up as a country ensuring that everyone can choose to walk in their own communities.”

Murthy also says that promoting walkable communities is a health equity issue.

“What we find is that particularly for communities of color and particularly for elderly people who are living with disabilities and for people who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, they often live in neighborhoods where they have a harder time walking and have less resources for safety than others," Murthy said.

In July, the 2015 National Community and Transportation Preference Survey found that homebuyers aged 18–34 prefer to buy in walkable communities. Forty-eight percent of respondents reported that they would trade off having a big yard for being able to walk to their neighborhood’s amenities. Seventy-nine percent said they believe it is important to be within an easy walking distance of places.

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Ebola Response Slated to Continue Into 2016

The United Nations announced this week that its Ebola response in West Africa will continue through mid-2016. This week, two new cases were confirmed in Guinea, and no new cases were found in Sierra Leone, though they continue to conduct contact tracing and monitoring related to a case that was reported last week.

Liberia hasn’t reported an Ebola case since mid-July, and was declared Ebola-free earlier this month. On Monday, the United States ended the airport screenings for travelers coming from Liberia.

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Turing Pharmaceuticals Raises Price of Drug by 5,000 Percent; Suggests It’s Still Learning How to Be Human

In August, start-up Turing Pharmaceuticals purchased Daraprim, a drug that treats toxoplasmosis, and hiked its cost from $13.50 to $750 per tablet overnight. Although Turing CEO Martin Shkreli said the price change was “not excessive at all” because the drug was previously unprofitable and the new profits could be spent on new drug breakthroughs, the move prompted a strong backlash. Under pressure, Shkreli said on Tuesday that he’ll lower the cost of Daraprim, but declined to say what the new price will be.

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