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WHO: Most Countries Woefully Unprepared to Fight Resistant Superbugs

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Charlotte Harbor, Fla., Publix Pharmacy Technician Sherrie Cocco rings up a customer Monday, Aug. 6, 2007, behind a display of oral antibiotics. (AP Photo/Charlotte Sun)

Charlotte Harbor, Fla., Publix Pharmacy Technician Sherrie Cocco rings up a customer Monday, Aug. 6, 2007, behind a display of oral antibiotics. (AP Photo/Charlotte Sun)

 

(Reuters) – Only 34 countries have national plans to fight the global threat of antibiotic resistance, meaning few are prepared to tackle “superbug” infections which put even basic healthcare at risk, the WHO said on Wednesday.

In a survey of government plans to tackle the issue, the World Health Organization said only a quarter of the 133 countries that responded were addressing the problem.

“This is the single greatest challenge in infectious diseases today,” said Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security. “All types of microbes, including many viruses and parasites, are becoming resistant.”

“This is happening in all parts of the world, so all countries must do their part to tackle this global threat.”

Antimicrobial drugs such as antibiotics and antivirals are used to treat conditions such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and HIV.

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Activism

We Will Not Incarcerate Our Way Out of This

Housing is a human right. We can use public resources to ensure everyone has a safe place to live and effective mental health and substance use treatment. Instead, we’ve gutted our social programs to the point where they don’t function and assume this lack of functionality means there’s no solution.

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As we’ve overfunded police and underfunded housing, treatment, and other essential services, we’ve seen more policing but less safety.
Last week, California Highway Patrol (CHP) and CalTrans violently evicted the Wood Street community, the largest encampment in the Bay Area.

People Are Liberating Public Spaces to Fight the Criminalization of Poverty

By Cat Brooks

How many times have you walked by an unhoused neighbor and told yourself it’s their fault, that they made the wrong life choices?

But the truth is that our unhoused crisis is the result of decades-long policies that criminalize poverty, addiction and mental health disabilities and treat human beings like garbage to be swept away with Friday’s trash while ignoring root causes.

Every city in the U.S. responds to visible poverty with fences, fines, cops, courts, and cages. These shortsighted responses make great photo ops, and let politicians pontificate, but all only accomplish terrorizing the most vulnerable, who move into new neighborhoods and reestablish their right to exist.

No matter how many arrests or evictions, the people will continue to be, and as part of that being — reclaim public spaces.

When San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen called for the erection of fences around the 24th Street Bart Plaza, the community struck back and retook the plaza. @MissionDeFence_SF posted a statement in solidarity with other current public land struggles, including: People’s Park in Berkeley, Parker Elementary in Oakland, Echo Park in Los Angeles and Mystic Garden in Daly City.

These struggles are proof positive that the power lies with the people who will rise up, resist and reclaim the people’s space.

Last week, California Highway Patrol (CHP) and CalTrans violently evicted the Wood Street community, the largest encampment in the Bay Area. CHP (the 4th most murderous law enforcement agency in California) descended on the camp for phase one of an armed eviction that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wood Street’s estimated 200-300 residents are being offered little relocation support or resources. Only a fraction has been given shelters or RV spots. Two were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience amidst an outpouring of community support.

Most of the Wood Street folks are Black, several are elders, many extremely vulnerable, and almost all are victims of gentrification and criminalization.

I was there to bear witness as the state demolished a tiny home, towed RVs, and destroyed lives. No effort was made to move their homes and belongings. Mayor Libby Schaaf doesn’t believe the city has any obligation to do so.

In an open letter to Schaaf, Governor Gavin Newsom, and others, residents offered concrete solutions and laid out their needs. They’ve been asking for sanitation services and fire safety for years. They’ve been ignored.

In their letter, they wrote, “The Wood Street community stands strong in our determination to keep our community together. We plan to continue organizing and fighting for long-term and permanent housing solutions.”

For now, they’ll be forced to move into residential areas where NIMBYS will call cops to protect their fragile senses from the brutality of visible poverty. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

This story is playing out across California.  Instead of meeting people’s basic needs, the state legislature does things like “CARE Courts” — to force unhoused people into court-ordered treatment that will cost millions and target Black and brown folks. The bill is Governor Newsom’s brainchild and a continuation of criminalizing the unhoused under the guise of “care” which he’s done since his days as mayor of San Francisco.

Housing is a human right. We can use public resources to ensure everyone has a safe place to live and effective mental health and substance use treatment. Instead, we’ve gutted our social programs to the point where they don’t function and assume this lack of functionality means there’s no solution.

Poverty is a political choice. Oakland’s unhoused population increased 24% since 2019 (thank you Libby), yet the Town spends 10 times as much on police as it does on housing.

As we’ve overfunded police and underfunded housing, treatment, and other essential services, we’ve seen more policing but less safety. We are less safe when we build walls to keep unhoused neighbors out of public spaces. We are less safe when we respond to mental health crises with a badge and gun.

We are less safe when the treatment plan for substance use problems is a cage.

If seeing unhoused people makes us uncomfortable, then we should invest in housing for all. If public drug use offends us, then we should invest in safe injection facilities (a proven public health intervention that Newsom just vetoed).

If watching someone experience a mental health crisis is distressing, then we should invest in community-driven approaches to support individuals in crisis.

Until we do these things, no matter how much our elected officials try to sanitize the crises we face, the people will keep knocking down fences to liberate public spaces.

Cat Brooks is co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, executive director of the Justice Teams Network and host of Law & Disorder on KPFA, a new show that exposes the cracks in our system and agitates for resistance.

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Activism

Oakland Promise and Kaiser Support Promising Student

Kaiser Permanente gave a significant grant to Oakland Promise, helping it reach a $50 million goal for its Generation Fund, which will offer college savings accounts and scholarships to all low-income Oakland public school students while they’re pursuing college degrees or trade certificates.

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Kaiser Permanente partners with Oakland Promise to cultivate mentor program, scholarships, academic guidance. Pictured, Kaiser Permanente mentor Ingrid Chen, MD, at right, with Sandy La, who begins her second year of college this fall.
Kaiser Permanente partners with Oakland Promise to cultivate mentor program, scholarships, academic guidance. Pictured, Kaiser Permanente mentor Ingrid Chen, MD, at right, with Sandy La, who begins her second year of college this fall.

By Carla Thomas

When Sandy La applied to two programs while a senior at Oakland High, she had no idea the Oakland Promise program would truly reward her for being a promising student on the rise. Now a successful student at UC San Diego majoring in Public Health, La has spent over 12 months mentored by Kaiser Permanente Oakland psychiatry resident Ingrid Chen. For Chen, mentoring a student and just being there for her was key.

Kaiser Permanente gave a significant grant to Oakland Promise, helping it reach a $50 million goal for its Generation Fund, which will offer college savings accounts and scholarships to all low-income Oakland public school students while they’re pursuing college degrees or trade certificates.

“The program is very well organized, and very accessible for busy working people,” said Dr. Chen. Kaiser Permanente is partnered with Oakland Promise to cultivate mentor programs, scholarships and academic guidance.

La was one of the lucky few of 300 to 400 Oakland high school students who received college scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $16,000 each year from Oakland Promise, and Dr. Chen is one of the 34 mentors from Kaiser Permanente who help keep them in college, often forming long lasting friendships.

“When I first moved to Oakland in 2020 to start my residency, the social justice movements spotlighting racial inequality in our society inspired me to help the community,” said Dr. Chen. “My parents are first generation Taiwanese immigrants, so I have a heart for immigrant families and other groups that are often marginalized in society.”

Dr. Chen makes herself available to La and one other student to talk about anything and help them identify opportunities in college and beyond.

“It’s been great to have someone to talk to and support me,” said La, who says the extra support really matters.

Dr. Chen says it has been great getting to know La and supporting her. La says the support has been a great confidence booster and she now pays it forward while counseling incoming freshmen. “I’m majoring in public health because I want to make a difference in health care and solve some of the disparities in the field,” said La.

Kaiser Permanente is also a founding sponsor of Oakland Promise, said Yvette Radford, Kaiser Permanente Northern California vice president of External and Community Affairs. “Oakland Promise is creating brighter futures for children and families by supporting children at every stage in their lives, from the day they’re born to the day they graduate from college,” said Radford. “This innovative public-private partnership is helping Oakland’s children become more successful in school and in life.”

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Activism

New Lifelong Medical Center Holds Dedication Ceremonies in Richmond

In a pre-dedication ceremony, Dr. Brazell H. Carter, president of the Robinson Weeks Robinson (RWR) scholarship program and a physician at LifeLong, officially welcomed early attendees in the RWR Conference Room, announcing that the WJHC has been in full operation since the facility opened in February 2020. The dedication was postponed in March 2020 because of the pandemic

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Lifelong Medical Center
Lifelong Medical Center

By Clifford L. Williams

A cascade of blue and white balloons, amazing colorful artwork, and nearly 300 excited patrons, were all part of the grand dedication last week for the LifeLong William Jenkins Health Center (WJHC), located at 150 Harbour Way in Richmond, CA.

In a pre-dedication ceremony, Dr. Brazell H. Carter, president of the Robinson Weeks Robinson (RWR) scholarship program and a physician at LifeLong, officially welcomed early attendees in the RWR Conference Room, announcing that the WJHC has been in full operation since the facility opened in February 2020. The dedication was postponed in March 2020 because of the pandemic

Dr. Nathan Stern, Associate Medical Director of the LifeLong William Jenkins Health Center, discussed some of the services available at the huge, 33,000 sq. ft., three-story complex. “We are the only LifeLong facility in Richmond, with services for newborns to older adults.”

“We have the only urgent care services in Richmond which are currently open five days a week, in addition to a behavioral health department that includes mental health therapy for adults. Since its opening, the center has served over 80,000 patients.”

“We also have a very active prenatal program. Many pregnancies have come through the facility. We have an 18-resident Family Medicine residency program which started over two years ago, with our first class scheduled to graduate next summer. The faculty will bring with them a lot of specialty services including podiatry, acupuncture, procedure clinics, women’s health procedures, and radiology.”

“In addition, we have a large dental clinic that includes services from extractions to implants, as well as COVID-19 labs where staff can provide COVID testing and vaccinations. The LifeLong faculty also has a wellness center which focuses on healthy eating, and exercise classes which have been conducted via hybrid classes and Zoom because of the pandemic.”

The WJHC accepts MediCal and Medicare patients, as well as people who do not have any insurance at all. “As a federally-qualified health center, we do not deny medical services to anyone, even if they don’t have the ability to pay,” said Dr. Stern.

“Our main population of patients, nearly 70%, have MediCal, and since May of this year, that number has increased significantly. Other patients, about 15%, are uninsured. Some patients may pay on a sliding scale from $45 to $115, based on their income.”

As one of the leading Scholarship Funds in West Contra Costa County, the RWR scholarship has been at the forefront of making a difference in the community since 1989. The program supports students with ambitions in medicine and S.T.E.M. programs, looking to create a lasting change. Dr. Carter, who oversees its operation, has been providing medical services for over 40 years.

Dr. Carter is a Bay Area community leader in health medicine. He practiced at his facility on McDonald Avenue in Richmond for the last 40 years until he joined LifeLong as a practicing physician. He also is a director of four nursing facilities in the area.

Dr. Stern noted that there’s a big difference in how well the County takes care of undocumented residents. “There are fewer services out here for those patients,” said Stern. “When it comes to the health care the County provides, it’s on a different level.

“I’m amazed what a great health center this is in Contra Costa County. Having this health center with all these outstanding services and community resources is why I came to work here. The only other medical facility is the nearby Kaiser Hospital.”

LifeLong has another large clinic in San Pablo, however, the facility does not have a residency program. LifeLong also operates a smaller site in Pinole, as well as a satellite site in Rodeo.

For more information on how to obtain care at LifeLong Medical Care or to make a donation, call 510.981.4100 or visit www.lifelongmedical.org. For more information on the Robinson Weeks Robinson scholarship program and to make scholarship donations, contact them at 510.426.6044 or RobinsonWeeksRobinsonScholarships.org.

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