Yes means test

2019 was another record year for STIs (sexually transmitted infections). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rates of reported STIs rose for the sixth straight year, and they continue to rise today. Young people continue to endure a big share of the STI burden. About half of the 20 million cases of STIs each year are in people ages 15-25.

Chlamydia is the STI most commonly reported to CDC—about 1.8 million cases in 2019, a 19% rate increase since 2015. Young women ages 15-24 account for nearly half of these cases. Yet, chlamydia and gonorrhea frequently have no symptoms. Without diagnosis and treatment, they can cause serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Given the potential health problems, CDC recommends annual testing for sexually active women under 25.

Yes Means Test, a campaign from the American Sexual Health Association, addresses the need for testing. The group aims to reduce the stigma around STI tests. YES Means YES has become a sexual empowerment movement. It’s about the right to make your own choices about sex—and have those choices respected. The Yes Means TEST campaign aligns with that movement, empowering people who say “yes” to sex with an understanding of the rights and responsibilities that choice carries. YES means TEST helps steer the conversation: “Yes” to sex, means “Yes” to getting tested.

Call the Malheur County Health Department to schedule your test. 541-889-7279.

World Health Day: Health is a Human Right

For science.
At least half of the world’s population can’t access basic health services such as seeing a doctor, getting vaccinated or even receiving emergency care. Even in wealthier regions, households are spending at least 10% of their budgets on health-related expenses. Many households are pushed further into extreme poverty due to high out-of-pocket health care costs. These issues are made even worse during a health crisis such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Studies show poverty and poor health outcomes are closely linked. When faced with financial hardship, people must decide between their daily living expenses versus their health needs. As a result, they are more likely to go without necessary care such as consulting with a doctor or getting a prescription.

For action.
We have many opportunities in our daily lives to speak out for the right to health. Stay informed on why health issues are human rights issues. Urge your legislators to pass laws and funding to support greater access to health care for all. Ask your employer to support a workplace that promotes health as a human right through family-friendly policies, decent working conditions, non-discrimination and gender equality. Encourage your family and friends to speak up or take action. Organize events and partner with community leaders and other local organizations to promote the right to health. Share stories on social media about why health matters, and challenge online misinformation with credible health facts. Support public health leaders, doctors, nurses, journalists, community members, and activists around the world who face attacks for defending our right to health.

For health.
Human rights are closely tied to how diseases spread and impact communities. Certain groups are at higher risk for disease due to inequalities. The HIV/AIDS epidemic shows us why human rights are so critical to health. People living with HIV often face discrimination that can affect their jobs or housing. When the rights of certain groups are not recognized, lack of access to health information and resources makes disease prevention more difficult. Using advocacy and legal action, civil society organizations and people living with the disease have demanded equality and the protection of their right to health. As a result, governments around the world have enacted policy changes, legal reform and greater program funding for HIV/AIDS research and treatment. These actions have helped to extend the lives of those living with the disease as well as reduce the rate of new infections and AIDS-related deaths.

Where you are.
Social determinants of health impact the health of every community. Where you are born determines your access to health care along with lifestyle and disease prospects. An unequal and fragmented health care system means people receive different care depending on whether they can afford it. If you live in an underserved community, most likely your life expectancy will be shorter than if you live in a well-resourced community. To ensure good health is a reality for everyone, we must call on all countries to protect human rights as part of their health policies and systems. More investments are needed to strengthen the health care workforce and expand services. Better health outcomes depend on health workers delivering quality care.

Racism, stigma and discrimination are setbacks to our health by creating conditions that unfairly disadvantage certain communities while unfairly advancing others. When certain groups are excluded or treated unequally, their physical and mental health suffers. We must find ways to engage communities in speaking out against discrimination and taking action to tackle these inequalities. When we are active in accessing our own care, we can help our health systems become more efficient, which can lead to better health outcomes for everyone.

Information provided by the American Public Health Association.

OHA seeks youth ages 15-19 for advisory council on pandemic recovery

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is looking for young people ages 15-19 to lead a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) that will decide how to spend $1 million to help youth and their communities and schools recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is part of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide economic relief following the pandemic.

From applications received through March 31, OHA will select 20 youth to serve on the advisory council. They will be required to attend a once monthly two-hour meetings and asked to spend about three additional hours a month on council activities, as well as attend two four-hour retreats.

YAC members will work together to:

  • Define what recovery looks like and the values of recovery
  • Identify needs and health inequities that are priorities for youth
  • Have discussions about health equity and community engagement
  • Talk about what is already happening regarding pandemic recovery for youth

For their time and contributions, YAC members will receive:

  • $45 an hour for time spent on council activities
  • Mentorship from state public health officials and adult community partners
  • Training on youth-adult partnerships and health equity
  • Learning opportunities and professional development related to public health, education and community support
  • The chance to make a positive difference in the lives of Oregon youth

Interested youth ages 15-19 living in Oregon are encouraged to apply here. Applications will be accepted through March 31.

More information can be found here.

State vaccination goal of 12,000 met at end of last week

Vehicles are lined up along SW 3rd Avenue prior to the start of Thursday’s drive-up vaccine clinic, held inside the parking garage at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center-Ontario.

Based on updated totals, Oregon Health Authority announced that vaccination sites across the state met Gov. Kate Brown’s goal of ensuring 12,000 vaccinations a day at the end of last week. Vaccine providers in Oregon administered 12,039 total doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines on Jan. 8, 2021. The governor required the benchmark to be met by the end of the two-week period that began Jan. 4.

The Malheur County Health Department has administered roughly 580 vaccines since Jan. 6 and plans to continue to hold vaccine PODs (points of distribution) at least once a week, contingent on vaccine availability.

Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting. OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).

“While we hit the Governor’s goal of hitting 12,000 vaccines administered in a day last week,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen, “we want to sustain and expand our daily totals. The state can’t achieve our goal to deliver vaccinations quickly, efficiently and equitably all on our own. I’m grateful for the hard work that staff in hospitals, local health clinics and other sites have put into ramping up vaccinations for Oregonians. Vaccines are the safest and most effective way we can end this pandemic.”

Through Jan. 22, vaccine availability is limited to people in Phase 1a of the vaccine distribution sequencing. Beginning Jan. 23, Phase 1b opens up to people age 65 and over, child care providers, and early learning and K-12 staff. MCHD will provide details on vaccine distribution plans for seniors and educators as those plans are finalized. Check our monthly events calendar for upcoming vaccine clinics and other public health-related events.

We’re looking for a great Nurse Practitioner to join our team

Public Health Nurse Practitioners work in clinical settings to provide a range of services. They work to protect the health of Malheur County residents through prevention, education and the provision of direct services in the areas of home visiting, immunization, family planning, communicable disease, sexually transmitted disease, general health education and referral. They actively promote the mission of the department as well as maintain a basic knowledge of quality improvement, and sound nursing principles and practices. The successful candidate will have current licensure in good standing as a Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant or Certified Nurse Midwife in the State of Oregon. EOE, Veterans Preference.

This is a part-time, contract position that works one business day per week, and you get to pick the day. If this sounds like a good opportunity for you or someone you know, visit the Malheur County Job Opportunities listing to learn more about the position and apply.