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The Surgeon General’s deafening silence on gun violence

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

September 26, 2019

TheHill.com

Last week the head of the Association of American Medical Colleges called gun violence a “public health crisis” in America. To address it, Dr. David J. Skorton wrote, “[t]hose of us in the health care field have a central role to play.” His voice adds to the increasing chorus of leading medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Surgeons, demanding action on the issue.

Yet there is one high-profile figure conspicuously absent from this growing symphony of doctors calling for change: The Surgeon General of the United States. 

Congress Can’t Even Study Gun Violence Unless It Changes The Law

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

September 7, 2019

TheHill.com

Earlier this year, the House Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill allocating $50 million to study the impact of gun violence in America. It had nothing to do with expanding background checks, eliminating bump stocks, increasing waiting periods, or revisiting the ban on assault weapons. It was simply intended to give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) each $25 million to study the issue and identify ways to prevent gun deaths in America. 

One would think even in today’s deeply divided political environment that Democrats and Republications would agree on funding government research to understand why gun violence is on the rise in America. But the funding set aside in the House bill to conduct it has little chance of gaining any support in the Senate, due a little-known law called the “Dickey Amendment.”

It’s Time to Fix the Border Public Health Crisis

August 8, 2019 – Does anyone believe President Trump wants to have a serious discussion with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)  to address the public health crisis at the southern border?  “Senator Chuck Schumer has finally gone to the Southern Border with some Democrat Senators,” Trump recently tweeted, suggesting Democrats have sat on their hands and done nothing to try and address the situation.  “I will set up a meeting [with Schumer] ASAP!,” Trump wrote.   The opposite, of course, is true. Prior to Sen. Schumer’s trip, House Democrats visited two Texas-based detention centers last month and exposed the horrors of what they discovered. Democrats have held hearings, too, and passed a $4.6 billion border package to try and help migrant children held in U.S. custody.   The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate tabled the bill. “It’s not going to happen,” Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said.  Even Vice President Mike Pence, who toured detention facilities in Texas a few weeks ago, couldn’t deny what he saw. “This is tough stuff,” he said.  “The crisis is real, the time for action is now,” he added.   Trump has yet to tour a facility, saying only that he “may” do so in the future.  But that didn’t stop him from contradicting the Vice President’s assessment regarding the conditions at the centers Pence visited. Trump said they’re “beautifully run” and “clean,” despite having never been there himself.  We already know how a meeting between Trump and Schumer on detention center conditions would play out.  Trump would play to his base and blame Schumer and the Democratic party for the current situation. […]

Children at southern border are facing a public health crisis

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

June 17, 2019

TheHill.com

The public health crisis facing migrant children at the southern U.S. border is at a boiling point. Detained kids are sleeping on concrete benches because the government is running out of room, and out of money. Thousands have been sexually abused. And six have died in U.S. custody over the past eight months alone.

Dr. Lyndon Haviland Receives Dean’s Champion of Public Health Award from CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy

Here is the full text of Dr. Haviland’s acceptance speech before the graduating class of 2019 at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy: Thank you, Dean El Mohandes. I am delighted to be here tonight, with Dr. Nabarro, Trustee Berger, CUNY faculty, my family (especially my husband Tom), honored guests and most importantly with you– the graduating class. It is truly an honor to share with you two key lessons I have learned in three decades of working in public health – lessons that resonate both here in the United States and around the globe.   In thinking about what might be useful to impart on a night like tonight, I realized that two issues have been central to my career and to my life – and I hope they will be similarly central to you as you leave CUNY and build your own journey in public health research and practice. At the end of the day, for me, the central values we espouse in public health are boldness and persistence.  I think both are essential — since our mission is nothing less than to change the world and to deliver on the promise of achieving social justice and health equity. I find it highly ironic that I am going to talk with you about either boldness or persistence. Because I would tell you, I never thought of myself as a risk taker or as that annoying and persistent “never say die” kind-of-person, […]

What parents can learn from the Boy Scouts sexual abuse crisis

An excerpt from my recent op-ed in The Seattle Times:

“The recent legal settlement resolving decades-old child sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America by a Snohomish County man brings to light an important issue that too often is ignored or swept aside. It should be a clarion call to parents in Seattle and around the country, especially now as they start their search to identify summer camps for their kids: Ask the right questions of prospective youth serving organizations ahead of time to protect your child’s safety.”

Dr. Lyndon Haviland to receive Dean’s Champion of Public Health Award from CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy

Nielsen resignation doesn’t change fact that sexual abuse at the border is a real emergency

An excerpt from my recent op-ed in the USA Today:

The abrupt resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reignited the debate over President Donald Trump’s border policies and his pledge to build a wall. But what continues to be lost in the national conversation on illegal immigration is the crisis involving the abuse of children while in U.S. “care” at the Mexico boundary.

Migrant Health Doctoral Fellowship Established by Lyndon Haviland at CUNY SPH

Dr. Haviland recently awarded the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) “its first named and endowed doctoral fellowship.”  The Lyndon Haviland Fellowship “will provide one incoming doctoral student the opportunity to develop theoretical knowledge and practical skills in addressing migrant health issues through public health policies and strategies, while learning from and collaborating with Dr. Haviland, an internationally recognized global public health expert and a passionate advocate for refugees, immigrants, and young people. … ” See link below for the full text of the CUNY SPH announcement. 

Our health depends on the passage of an achievable Green New Deal

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

TheHill.com

2/12/19

The Green New Deal is all the rage in Congress, capturing our imaginations about new jobs, new industries and a cleaner energy future for the nation.

But the only way any deal will get done is if lawmakers don’t lose sight of the serious human health consequences of inaction. They must work together, show leadership and pass a realistic plan that may not please everyone, but will put our nation on a constructive path toward addressing the increasing health threat posed by climate change.