Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The U.K.’s plan to offer all residents over 40 a free health screening was named Partnership for Prevention’s Best Prevention Idea of the Week, while the U.S. Border Patrol’s plan to widely spray a chemical herbicide near the city of Nuevo Laredo’s water supply was named the Worst Prevention Idea of the week.

The Best/Worst Idea awards are a regular feature of Prevention Matters, the blog of Partnership for Prevention. Each week, Partnership for Prevention's staff will choose the designees based on nominations of items in the previous week’s news submitted by members, staff and the public at large. To submit a nomination or for more information, contact Damon Thompson at .


UK to Launch Ambitious Health Screening Program

The UK is pressing ahead with plans to give all people in England over the age of 40 a free health screening as part of a new, heavier focus on disease prevention to better the health of the nation, tackle health inequalities, and help the National Health Service cope with the increasing demands of an aging population. The idea behind the health check – plans for which were first touted back in 2006 and then confirmed last year - is that patients at risk of developing serious illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes will be picked up on the radar much earlier, allowing for quicker lifestyle or drug-based interventions to either ward off or better treat potentially life-threatening conditions.

Under the plans, from next month everyone in England will be invited to undergo a free health check in order to identify those at risk of developing serious and expensive to manage/treat illnesses such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease, as well as better inform people of these conditions, in a move which the government claims will help to save 650 lives and prevent 1,600 heart attacks every year.

The health check will be centered on questions regarding patients’ general health, lifestyles, family medical history, height and weight measurements, cholesterol and where necessary blood glucose tests, and will be followed up with a personal assessment of disease risk and recommendations on how to best reduce it, at an annual cost of around £330 million.


Border Patrol to Spray Chemical Herbicide near City Water Supply

The U.S. Border Patrol intends to employ a chemical herbicide in order to eradicate stands of the Carrizo cane, an invasive plant that grows as tall as 30 feet and provides convenient cover for undocumented border crossers and smugglers. The variety of Carrizo cane that is common in the Laredo-Del Rio borderlands is from the region of Valencia, Spain.

Concerned about risks to public health from possible herbicide spray drift, runoff and leaching, officials from the city government of neighboring Nuevo Laredo are steadfastly opposed to aerial spraying. “I’ve always been respectful of the law and sovereignty,” said Nuevo Laredo Mayor Ramon Garza Barrios. “But herbicides that affect health in both countries can’t be sprayed.”

The zone targeted for spraying is across the Rio Grande from Nuevo Laredo’s Hidalgo neighborhood and only hundreds of yards from the Mexican city’s public water intake system. Carlos Montiel Saeb, general manager for Nuevo Laredo’s water utility, said the Border Patrol advised his office to turn off water pumps a few hours prior to spraying. “If there is no problem, why are they asking us to do this?” Montiel questioned.


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