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Health Policy Insights New Top 10 Dr Wen's Checkup Concerns 1

Health Policy Insights: New Top 10 Dr. Wen’s Checkup Concerns

In this insights, The Checkup With Dr. Wen, provides advice on navigating COVID-19 and other public health issues. To receive the entire newsletter—which includes reader questions answered and a synopsis of recently published scientific research—in your inbox, click this link.

I compiled a list of the top ten medical and public health policy issues that I thought would be major news stories in 2023 last year. Here is the most recent list of subjects I plan to cover in 2024:

Covid-19 and additional viruses

The “triple threat” of covid, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) continues to strain hospital resources during peak season. Despite the fact that widely accessible vaccinations and antiviral medications have made it possible for the majority of Americans to resume their pre-pandemic lives. Treatments continue to be underutilised, and the updated vaccine’s uptake among the vulnerable—most notably nursing home residents—remains unacceptablely low.

Variants of the coronavirus will persist, and I anticipate that federal health officials will approve a fresh round of targeted vaccinations in the autumn and will intensify the distribution of instruments that lessen the severity of the disease. I’ll discuss these advancements as well as how we’re understanding and hopefully treating long-term COVID-19.

Health and climate change

According to the World Meteorological Organisation, 2023 will be the hottest year on record for Earth. The numerous negative health effects of climate change, such as excessive heat and smoke from wildfires, are being felt directly by Americans.

I will continue to report on the impact of the climate crisis on public health and potential remedies. For example, the health-care industry itself contributes significantly to carbon emissions, although excellent efforts have been made to lessen these effects. In this area, I want to discover and publish more motivational tales.

Health Policy Insights New Top 10 Dr Wens Checkup Concerns 2

Drug addiction and mental health

I wrote last year about how teens’ use of social media is exacerbating depression and about ongoing efforts—including legislative measures—to stop this dangerous trend. I will investigate this further.

The opioid crisis persists, and although I applaud the FDA for deciding to make naloxone. An overdose prevention drug, available without a prescription, a change in policy does not guarantee access. I’ll discuss community-based initiatives to lower the cost and increase access to naloxone as well as grassroots efforts to address loneliness, another rapidly increasing mental health issue.

Gene therapy

Recently, the FDA authorised two novel treatments for sickle cell disease. This is a significant advancement in the fight against a severe and crippling disease that affects about 100,000 Americans and almost 8 million people worldwide. The first commercially available treatment based on CRISPR gene-editing technology is among the approved therapies.

Treatment for obesity

I anticipate more research on the exciting new GLP-1s—drugs that treat obesity—to be published. Including a side-by-side comparison of the two approved drugs, tirzepatide and semaglutide. These medications are also being researched for a variety of other illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease and addiction. In addition, the federal government is under increasing pressure to pay for Medicare beneficiaries’ expenses. These will be some of the most important discussions regarding US health policy.

Approvals from regulators

Additionally, a number of significant regulatory decisions are anticipated to be made by federal officials in 2024. Psychedelic medications may be approved by the FDA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression. It might also take a cue from California and outlaw specific food additives like Red No. 3 colour additive and brominated vegetable oil.

A significant decision by the Supreme Court is expected soon. Which may restrict access to the abortion drug mifepristone. The health of Americans would be significantly impacted by each of these choices.

Technology in medicine

The use of artificial intelligence in healthcare is undergoing a rapid revolution that is here to stay. I wrote about a number of noteworthy AI tools last year that are already contributing to safer healthcare. I’ll be writing about a lot more applications in the future. In addition, I’ll monitor the development of telemedicine since the pandemic and keep an eye on newly emerging technologies like wearables.

The workforce in healthcare

Researchers were predicting severe shortages of healthcare providers long before the coronavirus pandemic. As hospitals and nursing homes struggle with employee retention and burnout, the issues are becoming more serious. What can be done, and how did we get here? I will investigate this.

Infrastructure for public health

Similar resource constraints faced by state and local public health organisations existed before COVID. Due to staffing shortages and budget cuts, conditions have gotten worse in many health departments. I want to draw attention to the negative effects of underinvestment, like the increase in STDs and the drop in childhood vaccination rates.

Health Policy Insights New Top 10 Dr Wens Checkup Concerns

Policies with a broad impact on the welfare of Americans

Health is influenced by a person’s surroundings, including their living situation, access to food, and availability of educational opportunities. In addition to the medical care they receive. I intend to revisit these social determinants of health. Including the expanding field of “food as medicine” and the relationship between public safety and public health.


And lastly, I’d like to highlight you, our readers. My columns are frequently sparked by reader stories. I am also appreciative of readers who share their expert knowledge. Two nonprofit leaders were highlighted in last week’s column on nursing home vaccinations. One contacted me via the online submission form, while the other did so through a colleague. If you have any experiences, either personal or professional. To share in any of these ten areas—or anything else—please write to me. I’m eager to pick your brains.

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