Floodwaters pose a significant hazard to public health says Houston Health Department
With tropical storm Harvey having caused destruction in Houston, the regional health department has revealed that the aftermath is just as dangerous to public health as the storm itself as a result of the flood water that has remained.
Both the health and environmental risks that the body of water contains is significant, containing sewage, debris and waste, as well as chemicals coming from the city’s petrochemical plants that were hit and damaged by the storm.
As a result, it is feared that the flooding could begin to cause infectious diseases such as cholera and typhoid, and expose citizens to toxic and carcinogenic compounds that could cause bodily harm.
“There’s no need to test it. It’s contaminated. There’s millions of contaminants,” said Porfirio Villarreal, a spokesperson for the Houston Health Department.
“We’re telling people to avoid the floodwater as much as possible. Don’t let your children play in it. And if you do touch it, wash it off. Remember, this is going to go on for weeks.”
To make matters worse, the stagnant standing water that remains is the ideal breeding ground for mosquitos, already a common pest in the Houston area. “I can’t emphasise the vector-borne disease issue,” said Dr Gerald Parker on the matter, a man who served in disaster response for the federal government for 36 years.
With contamination such a health hazard in the immediate aftermath of the storm, avoiding the flood water and taking necessary precautions will be a high priority for the population over the coming weeks in order to contain the threats to public health.
Slovenia launches EU COVID pass built on Better Platform
Slovenia has launched its EU Digital COVID Certificate, also known as the Digital Green Certificate, which was developed in only three weeks and built on top of a national clinical data repository (CDR) powered by the Better Platform.
The service generates a certificate based on the data available in Slovenia’s national CDR. The COVID certificate uses integrated care record data such as demographic data, vaccination and test result data that is already available. The data is made available through previously established services by the national COVID-19 screening data management solution and the national eVaccination registry – so there is no need for additional data to be generated solely for certificate purposes.
This rapid development of EU Digital Covid Certificate was made possible by an open-platform approach. It has also been created so that it can used by different systems, providing a vendor-neutral exchange of documents, and is available on-demand in digital or PDF form, with QR codes.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed national health systems to quickly develop new digital solutions for including to manage epidemiological data, and organise COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. The EU Digital COVID Certificate is the latest example of a solution that was developed at this new fast pace to allow citizens to travel safely this summer.
The Slovenian healthcare system already had a national eHealth infrastructure, enabling data to be shared via an integrated care record that makes data available for any digital service instantly, at scale and volume.
Currently, Slovenia's healthcare system includes:
* more than 150 million health records for 2.1 million unique individuals (98% of the population)
* more than 86% (135 million) of records in the form of structured data that uses openEHR models
* more than 4 million records of COVID-19 test results
* unstructured data that includes discharge summaries, clinical notes, opt-in statements, consent documents and other clinical data
* data which is sent to the national system by more than 1,250 registered healthcare providers in Slovenia
Initially, the digital health platform enabled the Slovenian Ministry of Health to respond rapidly and deploy a COVID-19 screening data management solution on a county-wide level in just 14 days. With vaccination data available through the national eVaccination registry, there was no need for additional data to be generated solely to create the COVID certificate.
“We are happy that we already had the suitable IT infrastructure in place in Slovenia" said Minister of Health Janez Poklukar. "It allowed us to respond quickly and provide the necessary digital solutions that support the efforts of medical and epidemiological teams to manage the pandemic, as well as to allow our citizens to travel freely.”