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  • For One Rural Community, Fighting Addiction Started With Recruiting The Right Doctor
    Lindsay Bunker woke up from a nightmare. The 32-year-old lives with her sixth-month-old daughter on the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation in northern Wisconsin. She's struggled with addiction for over 10 years, mostly to heroin. Then came the nightmare: She dreamt two men were attacking her baby while she could think only about drugs. "In my mind I was thinking, 'If I can just get one hit, if I can get one line, I can save her,'" she recalls, pausing before continuing, "I woke up and I was panicking. How can a mother think like that?" It was a wake-up call. Bunker says she realized in that moment that heroin was "evil" and she resolved to get into treatment. In a lot of rural America, that's where the story could have ended. Many rural communities lack basic resources for substance abuse. There are fewer services available than in urban areas—as many as 82 percent of rural Americans may live in counties that lack detoxification services, for example. But Bunker was lucky. She

  • Facing Critical Labor Shortage, Japan Opens Door Wider To Foreign Workers
    Japanese lawmakers have passed controversial legislation expanding the number of semi-skilled foreign workers who can live and work in the notably insular nation for up to five years. Japan has been pressed to make the change because of a critical labor shortage that results from its rapidly aging society and low birth rate. Japan's upper house of parliament passed the law 161 to 76 just after 4 a.m. Saturday local time, after a day when the opposition parties tried to unsuccessfully to block the measure. The law will go into effect in April 2019. The legislation has been viewed as a last-resort measure by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ultra-conservative government to address a severe shortage of workers in 14 industries, including restaurants, nursing, construction and agriculture. According to the Associated Press, two categories of workers will be accepted, with conditions that will discourage them from trying to immigrate permanently. The law will apply to as many as 345,000 less

  • Poll: Young People More Likely To Defer Health Care Because Of Cost
    If you're not feeling well or have a routine health issue, do you go ahead and get it checked out or put if off because of the cost? And, let's say you do make an appointment and go. Afterward, do you fill the prescription you received or do financial concerns stop you? We wondered how often people deferred or skipped care because of cost, so we asked in the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health Health Poll. The survey queried more than 3,000 households nationwide in July. For starters we asked if people had postponed, delayed or canceled some kind of health care service, such as a doctor's appointment or medical procedure, because of cost in the preceding three months. About 1 in 5 people had done so. "I am pretty impressed that it was only 20 percent that had postponed or delayed or canceled health care services," says Dr. Anil Jain , vice president and chief health information officer for IBM Watson Health. "I thought it would be higher." The proportion of people who said cost had deterred

  • More Salt, Fewer Whole Grains: USDA Eases School Lunch Nutrition Rules
    School lunches are healthier than they were five years ago. But Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says schools need more flexibility in serving meals that kids will eat. "If kids are not eating what is being served, they are not benefiting, and food is being wasted," Perdue said in a statement announcing a rule that is set to be published later this month. The rule will give administrators more leeway in serving up white breads, biscuits, tortillas and white pastas by requiring that only half of the grains served in school meals each week be whole-grain rich. Currently schools are only allowed to serve whole grain-rich breads and pastas unless they get a waiver. In addition, the administration is putting the brakes on the targets developed during the Obama administration to cut back on sodium. "We will continue to listen to schools, and make common-sense changes as needed, to ensure they can meet the needs of their students based on their real-world experience in local communities,"

  • UNAIDS Report: 9 Million Are Likely HIV Positive And Don't Know It
    About 9.4 million people are likely HIV-positive and don't know it. That's a key finding from a new report from UNAIDS — and it's why the theme of this month's World AIDS Day is "Know your HIV status." That's an important message, HIV/AIDS specialists say, at a time when the disease no longer makes headlines. "Some people are under the erroneous impression that the epidemic is done," says Wafaa El-Sadr , global director of the public-health organization ICAP and a professor at Columbia University. But HIV/AIDS remains an enormous problem around the world, she says: "Two million new infections in the past year; still about a million deaths every year." Knowing your status, she says, is "the foundation" for preventing new infections. But simply knowing your status is not enough to stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic, El-Sadr and other global-health specialists say. "My big issue with just knowing your status as a theme is that it puts all the burden on the individual," says Chris Beyrer , the

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