VOL. 131 | NO. 244 | Thursday, December 8, 2016
Cohen Proposes Grants For School Bus Seatbelts
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen has introduced a bill that would provide federal grants for hip and shoulder seatbelts and retrofit existing school buses with the same.
Cohen is calling the legislation the Bring Enhanced Liability in Transportation for Students (BELTS) Act. It also includes grants for motion activation sensors in school buses.
The bill also directs the federal government’s Transportation Department to withhold 10 percent of some federal highway funds to states whose legislatures do not require background checks of school bus drivers in their states.
The same penalty would apply to states that do not have a law that increases penalties from a first offense to a second offense for motorists cited and convicted of illegally passing a stopped school bus.
The legislation is prompted by a November school bus crash in Chattanooga that killed six children. Cohen termed the incident a “wakeup call.”
As a state senator, before his election to the U.S. House, Cohen sponsored a bill requiring seat belts on school buses that never got out of Senate committee.
– Bill Dries
UTHSC Dept. Chair Joins Council on Alcohol Abuse
Dr. Alex Dopico of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, who has spent more than 20 years researching the effects of alcohol on the brain, has been appointed to serve a four-year term on the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Dopico is chair of the Department of Pharmacology in the College of Medicine at UTHSC.
The council is the highest advisory board for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health.
The 18-member council advises, assists and consults with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the director of the NIAAA on matters related to the activities and policies of the institute.
Along with helping to shape policy nationwide, the council is charged with second-level review on grants for alcohol research before they are funded.
– Andy Meek
U of M Professor Writes Medical Neutrality Editorial
Dr. Soumitra Bhuyan, assistant professor of Health Systems Management and Policy in the University of Memphis School of Public Health, is the lead author of an editorial urging the international community to defend medical neutrality in war zones and calls for the United Nations to act when health care facilities are attacked.
The Geneva Conventions – ratified by 196 countries – are intended to protect medical services for civilians in war zones. The editorial was published recently in the British Medical Journal Global Health.
The International Humanitarian Law, which specifically promotes medical neutrality and protection of medical services for people in war zones, as set out in the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. Breaches of the law, which was modified in 1977 and 2005 to strengthen it further, are regarded as war crimes.
Inaction dates back to the 1970s in Mozambique, and is still evident today in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan, the editorial says. The destruction of health care facilities around the world shows no sign of abating. In 2015-16, 600 such attacks were recorded – 228 of them in Syria alone – killing 1,000 people and injuring more than 1,500 others.
According the World Health Organization, 113 health care facilities in 17 countries were attacked in the first six months of 2016. Since the war in Syria began, 654 doctors and nurses have died.
“The International Humanitarian Law is explicit and provides for the protection of patients, health facilities, health personnel and patients in times of war as long as they are not directly involved in hostilities,” the authors write.
The co-authors of the editorial were researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Health Research and Educational Trust of American Hospital Association. Bhuyan is an associate editor of British Medical Journal Global Health.
The article is online at gh.bmj.com.
– Don Wade
Tenn. Lawmakers Elected To National Black Caucus Roles
Several Democratic state lawmakers from Tennessee, including four from Memphis, have been elected to leadership roles within the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
Rep. Raumesh Akbari was elected treasurer of the national organization at its 40th annual legislative conference in New Orleans last week. Fellow Memphis Rep. Larry Miller was named regional vice chair.
Reps. Karen Camper and G.A. Hardaway of Memphis and Brenda Gilmore of Nashville were named executive members at large.
Gilmore, who is the chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus, says the Tennessee lawmakers’ election to leadership roles with the National Black Caucus “shows the great influence that African-American lawmakers from this state are having on the national stage.”
– The Associated Press