Earlier this month at its Annual Meeting and Exposition, the American Public Health Association (APHA) adopted 18 new policy statements ranging from contraception access to preventing prescription painkiller abuse. Although they go beyond the Pap test and pelvic exam, many of the new standards are directly related to ob-gyns as population health is closely linked to our specialty. It’s important for us to pay attention to these related issues so, I’d like to take a moment to review a few of them here. Please note that these are only some of the women’s health focused policy positions.
Universal access to contraception
The APHA notes that access to contraception is essential and is urging all governments, health providers and funding decision-makers to ensure the right to contraception without exceptions.
This new standard is comparable to ACOG’s Committee Opinion, “Access to Contraception,” where it notes, “All women should have unhindered and affordable access to all U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives.”
Preventing prescription painkiller abuse
Currently, there is an epidemic of prescription painkiller overdose deaths in the U.S. To address this, the APHA is calling for evidence-based training programs on mental health substance abuse and overdose prevention. It urges health care providers to be educated on using state-based Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, and we should all use this resource. It works in my state and it has helped me with my prescribing significantly.
ACOG is proud to be a member of the American Medical Association (AMA) Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse, and several weeks ago Dr. Hal Lawrence and I attended a conference sponsored by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. As women’s physicians, we recognize the importance of working with our health care provider counterparts to combat abuse of prescription opioids across the country.
Public heath approach to human trafficking
The APHA calls on all health professional schools, societies and certifying bodies to incorporate human trafficking into their curricula and enact policies on the involvement of health care workers in identifying trafficked people in clinical settings.
ACOG’s Committee Opinion, “Human Trafficking,” notes that 80% of trafficked individuals are women and girls: “The members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists should be aware of this problem and strive to recognize and assist their patients who are victims or who have been victims of human trafficking.” Stay tuned to this extremely important issue, as we will have several very engaging activities at our next Annual Clinical & Scientific Meeting in May, 2016. This meeting will mark the end of my presidential year, and will be held in Washington, DC.
For more information and to see all of the new APHA Policy Standards please click here.