WADA adopts new policies, including gun violence reforms and climate change guidelines

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The AMA urges states to create “safe haven” programs to encourage treatment for physicians suffering from burnout and mental health issues.

The American Medical Association adopted several new policies at the organization’s annual meeting this week.

The AMA is the largest national association representing physicians, uniting more than 190 state and specialty medical societies and other key stakeholders. AMA activities include advocacy in courts and legislatures, chronic disease prevention, addressing public health crises, and training physician leaders.

Decisions taken at WADA’s annual meeting this week include the following 10 policy areas.

Poverty-level wages: A new AMA policy says poverty is detrimental to health and commits the organization to advocate for federal, state and local minimum wage policies, including adjusting wage levels to keep pace with the world. ‘inflation. The AMA also asserted that minimum wage policies should be consistent with the AMA principle that the highest attainable standard of health is a fundamental human right and that optimizing the social determinants of health is an ethical obligation of civil society.

Climate change: The AMA has declared climate change a public health crisis that threatens the health and well-being of all. Building on existing efforts to address the climate crisis, the new policy mobilizes WADA to advocate for policies that limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, reduce greenhouse gas emissions greenhouses in the United States aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050, support the rapid implementation and incentivization of clean energy solutions, and push for significant investments in climate resilience with climate justice at the forefront. spirit.

Fighting misinformation: As misinformation continues to have a negative effect on efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the AMA has adopted a policy to address health-related misinformation by healthcare professionals. As part of a report by the WADA Board, the new policy provides a comprehensive strategy to stop the spread of misinformation and protect the health of the public, including steps that can be taken by the AMA, social media companies, publishers, state licensing bodies, credentialing boards, state and specialty health professional societies, and organizations that accredit training keep on going.

Rural public health: As rural local health departments are often constrained by budgets, staffing and capacity constraints that affect their ability to provide sufficient public health services, the AMA has adopted a policy advocating adequate and sustained funding for health programs. rural public health. The policy also supports equitable access to 10 essential public health services and the Basic public health services to protect and promote the health of all. The policy calls for more research to identify the unique needs and models of public health and healthcare service delivery in rural areas.

Combat loneliness: The AMA has adopted a policy identifying loneliness as a public health problem that affects people of all ages. The new policy supports evidence-based efforts to address loneliness. Studies show that loneliness is not only a significant predictor of functional decline and premature death similar to the risk of obesity, but that loneliness in adolescence is associated with sleep disturbances, symptoms of depression and poor health in general.

Criminalization of reproductive health: Responding to more policing and oversight of reproductive health services, the AMA has adopted a policy acknowledging that it is a violation of human rights when the government interferes in the medicine and hinders access to safe, evidence-based reproductive health services, including abortion and contraception. Under the new policy, the AMA will seek to expand legal protection for patients and physicians against government efforts that criminalize reproductive health services.

Physician mental health: For physicians seeking care for burnout or other mental health issues, the AMA has adopted a policy to urge states to create “shelter” programs to encourage counseling and treatment. The programs would complement Physician Health Programs add additional evidence-based options for physicians to receive care and allow them to continue practicing as long as public safety is not threatened.

Legal Cannabis Registries: The AMA has adopted a policy calling on states to expunge the criminal records of those arrested or convicted of cannabis-related offenses that have subsequently been legalized or decriminalized. The policy aims to introduce fairness and justice into the rapidly evolving effort to legalize cannabis. “It affects young people who aspire to careers in medicine as well as many others who are denied housing, education, loans and employment opportunities. It is simply not right to ruin a life based on actions that result in convictions but are then legalized decriminalized,” AMA Trustee Scott Ferguson, MD, said in a prepared statement.

Gun violence: WADA has adopted three policies relating to armed violence:

  • The AMA advocates that school drills related to active shooter scenarios be conducted in an evidence-based and trauma-informed manner, which considers the physical and mental well-being of children, considers past experiences that may affect children’s response to a simulation, avoids creating further traumatic experiences for children, and provides support for students who may be negatively affected.
  • The AMA has called on state and federal lawmakers to subject homemade “ghost guns” to the same regulations and licensing requirements as traditional firearms.
  • The AMA is committed to advocating for legislation requiring ammunition packaging to carry a boxed warning. At a minimum, the AMA promotes a warning with textual statistics and/or graphical warning labels related to the risks, harms and mortality associated with the possession and use of firearms.

Backlog of sexual assault test kits: The AMA called on state and federal authorities to process all pending and new sexual assault test kits with patient consent and in a timely manner. The kits have played an important role in the identification and incarceration of perpetrators of violent sex crimes. Even when a suspect cannot be instantly identified, information can be uploaded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation website. Combined DNA Index System and assist in the subsequent identification of a criminal. WADA also appealed for additional funds to facilitate immediate testing of the kits.

Related: Anesthesiologist becomes president-elect of the American Medical Association

Christopher Cheney is the Clinical Care Editor at HealthLeaders.

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