American mom’s were able to celebrate this Mother’s Day with a little relief, as it seems the threat of swine flu that temporarily took 172,000 children out of school has passed. With all these bombastic news titles, we thought mom’s and families might appreciate some news to celebrate, specifically, with regard to children’s health. Among a laundry list of accomplishments on part of Obama in his first 100 days were a few paramount steps for children’s health. The current list includes an extension and expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), increase in federal tobacco tax, movements towards safer food system, and a re-expansion of the 2010 budget for family planning. Collectively, these movements symbolize a reprioritization of the U.S. Government toward our collective future and a movement away from the bombastic, egocentric legislation from the days of yore (hopefully). So, take a moment to sit back and celebrate the small victories for children’s health!
We kicked off the year with a great leap for children’s health with the passing of the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-Chip). Originally created in 1997 to reduce the population of uninsured American children by providing subsidized insurance to children of the working poor. As of January 2009, this program will continue to cover these children and be expanded to cover another four million uninsured children. This round’s passing also eliminated a highly debated five-year waiting period imposed on immigrant children. This bill has been sitting on Capitol Hill for over two years… GOBAMA!
Ironically (and quite intelligently), we are paying for the extension and expansion of the S-CHIP with an increase in taxes on cigarettes. This Federal tobacco tax increase is projected to generate $31. 2 billion over the next four years. And just maybe, if we are really lucky, this tax will also discourage the purchasing of cigarettes by minors, and decrease children’s exposure to second hand smoke via decrease in use on part of their parents and relatives.
When it comes to healthier and safer foodways for kids, we are coming at it from two angles. The first being a general revamping of FDA and USDA food regulation bodies, which will hopefully have a tighter grasp on where, how, and by what safety measures our food is being produced. And second being the proposal of several bills to re-evaluate our nutritional standards that haven’t been reviewed since the 1960’s. These steps will not only decrease the chances of possible exposure to contaminated food, which can be especially dangerous for children, but will also bring about health promoting nutritional guidelines for schools to combat obesity.
As for expansion of family planning funding, the proposed budget for 2010 ends funding of ineffective abstinence-only programs, while also providing $178 million for evidence-based comprehensive sex education programs that will prevent teen pregnancy. Imagine that? Research based sex education. Who would have thunk it?
In honor of Mother’s Day, it’s nice to sit back and celebrate our victories as mothers, tax-payers, and good citizens. It’s a breath of fresh air for mom’s, families, and the general public, when we look back on the somewhat backwards politics of the past eight years. But, seeing as it is now Monday, we must get back to paying close attention to how we can enable future generations to thrive. After all, what is good for one child is good for the future of all of society. If we take this proverb a little further, the health dangers facing children globally, such as war, tuberculosis, malaria, access to clean food and water must not be forgotten. Disparities in health and health-care become even more apparent when threats of pandemics arise —as we just experienced in the case of Swine Flu. And in this global age, for better or for worse, one nation’s vulnerability is a vulnerability (and cause for concern) to us all.