Sunday, December 12, 2010

Transgender Individuals Do Not Require Surgery to Get a Passport

The US has lightened up its passport regulations for transgender people and ended an earlier requirement that reassignment surgery precede a passport gender change. The new policy and procedures are based on standards and recommendations of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), recognized by the American Medical Association as the authority in this field, the department said.
The State Department said the new rules mean "it is also possible to obtain a limited-validity passport if the physician's statement shows the applicant is in the process of gender transition. No additional medical records are required."
“Transgender Americans face extreme danger when traveling abroad in the many countries that are hostile to them,” Michael D. Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), a group that advocates for the rights of transgender people, said. “Adoption of this safety-focused policy is a giant step forward in protecting transgender Americans abroad, and in fulfilling the State Department's commitment to protect all Americans when they travel, work or live overseas,” he added.
The new policy which takes effect Thursday says that a doctor must confirm that the person is undergoing clinical treatment for gender transition. Limited-validity passports will also be available to applicants in the process of gender transition, the department added.
It was noted that this policy is based on standards and recommendations of the WPATH, recognized by the American Medical Association as the authority in this field. The department also stated that passport-issuing officials will only ask appropriate questions to obtain information necessary to determine citizenship and identity.
This change is yet another victory for gay rights groups seeking changes to federal policy. The timing was planned and meant to coincide with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month and comes one week after President Obama extended more employment benefits to the same-sex partners of gay federal employees. Congress is also considering a repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays and lesbians from openly serving in uniform.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Heat Claims First Victims Of The Year

The early return to summer-like weather has contributed to the first 2008 heat-related deaths in Maryland, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) has announced. A 79-year-old Anne Arundel County man and a 65- year- old Prince George’s man died from heart disease complicated by hyperthermia.
DHMH cautions Maryland citizens that heatstroke and heat exhaustion can develop from the hot and humid conditions typically associated with Maryland summers.
"Everyone should be careful in hot weather, especially elderly people, young children, and those who are overweight," said DHMH Secretary John M. Colmers. "While chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses increase an individual’s risk, there are things people can do to protect themselves."
Heatstroke is a serious illness characterized by a body temperature greater then 105 degrees. Symptoms may include dry red skin, convulsions, disorientation, delirium and coma. Onset of heatstroke can be rapid: a person can go from feeling apparently well to a seriously ill condition within minutes. Treatment of heatstroke involves the rapid lowering of body temperature, using a cool bath or wet towels. A heatstroke victim should be kept in a cool area; emergency medical care should be obtained by dialing 911.
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heatstroke that may develop due to a combination of several days with high temperatures and dehydration in an individual. Signs of heat exhaustion include extreme weakness, muscle cramps, nausea, or headache. Victims may also vomit or faint. Heat exhaustion is treated with plenty of liquids and rest in a cool, shaded area. Those on a low-sodium diet or with other health problems should contact a doctor.
Hot weather tips:
* Drink plenty of fluids such as water and fruit juices to prevent dehydration — be aware that alcohol can impair the body’s sweat mechanism, as can fairly common medications such as antihistamines and diuretics;
* Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes;
* Avoid direct sunlight by staying in the shade or by wearing sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses;
* When possible, stay in air-conditioned areas. If your home is not air-conditioned, consider a visit to a shopping mall or public library. Contact your local health department to see if there are any heat shelters in your area;
* NEVER leave pets or young children in a car, even with the windows cracked;
* Check on elderly relatives or neighbors at least daily; and
* Take it easy when outdoors. Athletes and those who work outdoors should, if possible, take short breaks when feeling fatigued. Schedule physical activity during the morning or evening when it is cooler.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christian Medical Missionaries Attacked and Killed in Afghanistan

Afghanistan officials have announced that a group of 10 American and European medical missionaries were attacked and killed in a remote area of northern Afghanistan while providing eye care in the “relatively peaceful mountain province” of Badakhshan. The group was working with the International Assistance Mission (IAM), an organization that has operated in Afghanistan since 1966.
According to the Washington Post, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the killings because they were “teaching Christianity to Afghans.”
Director of the IAM, Dirk Frans, told the Associated Press that six Americans, one German, one Briton, and two Afghans were part of the team. Although they are registered as a nonprofit Christian Organization, Frans said, the group does not proselytize.
Team leader Tom Little, an optometrist from New York, and Karen Woo, a British surgeon, are among those confirmed dead. The doctors had finished their work and were returning to Kabul at the time of the attack.
The group was part of the NOOR Provincial Ophthalmic Care (POC) project which provides primary eye care to areas that do not have access to eye care facilities. The “eye camps” are non-surgical outpatient clinics that are run on a weekly basis in three Afghan provinces. The team served a total of 75,462 people in 2008, including 34,249 school children who were screened for eye problems.
The International Assistance Mission is an international charitable organization serving the people of Afghanistan through Health Care and Economic Development. The group operates two eye care hospitals throughout the country in addition to the eye camp team.
The Mazar Ophthalmic Center is a 40 bed eye hospital located in Mazar-i-Sharif in the Balkh province. In 2008, the MOC served over 31,000 patients and performed 3201 surgeries. Over 3,000 pairs of eyeglasses were distributed.
The Kandahar Noor Eye Hospital (KNEH) is a ten-bed hospital that opened in the southern region of Afghanistan in 2007. Local donations have provided funding for free care for patients who cannot pay for surgery, glasses or medicine. The KNEH has one eye doctor, who is assisted by two nurses and three opticians. In 2008, the KNEH served almost 8000 patients and performed 654 surgeries.
The group has also established the Hazarajat Community Health Project, which is the nearest healthcare facility for most people in the Lal-wa-Sarjangal district. The project initially began in 1999 as a small Mother and Child Health Clinic, but has now expanded to 157 Health Posts, 5 Basic Health Centers, and a Comprehensive Health Center. The Wakhan Community Health and Development Program has a mission to reduce the under-5 mortality rate and the maternal mortality rate in the far North East of Afghanistan.
The IAM also runs a Community Development Project to facilitate development in Afghan communities. In addition, the Adult Learning and Education Facilitation project, first established in 2007, aims to help the people of Kandahar with learning needs, including English as a second language. More than 90% of the learners used their skills to obtain jobs and earn a living.
A statement by the IAM reads, “This tragedy negatively impacts our ability to continue serving the Afghan people as IAM has been doing since 1966. We hope it will not stop our work that benefits over a quarter of a million Afghans each year.”
Dr. Woo had written before her death that while she realized the expedition would “require a lot of physical and mental resolve and will not be without risk…the effort is worth it in order to assist those who need it most.”
Here at eMaxhealth, our prayers go out to the families of the International Assistance Mission eye camp team and we thank the IAM volunteers for all of the work they do to provide care for those in need.