Entries in Poverty (6)


Poor Teens Lack Access to Emergency Contraception: Study

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Low-income communities have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S., yet emergency contraception may be hardest for girls in those areas to get their hands on, according to a new study.

While pharmacies in underserved communities are just as likely to stock the morning-after pill as pharmacies in more affluent ones, researchers from Boston Medical Center found that pharmacists in poorer areas were more often misinformed about the law and mistakenly were denying 17-year-old girls access to Plan B.

Plan B, or levonorgestrel, prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus, if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.  The drug is sometimes confused with the so-called abortion pill, RU-486, but unlike RU-486, Plan B cannot be used to terminate a pregnancy.

In 2006, Plan B became available for purchase by adults in the U.S. without a prescription. Three years later, in 2009, the FDA lowered the age at which Plan B could be dispensed without a prescription to allow 17 year olds access to the drug without a prescription.

According to the study, pharmacists and pharmacy staff may not be adequately apprised of the change in the law.

"We were very surprised by the results" of the study, said Dr. Tracey Wilkinson, its senior author and a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center. "There is a lot of misinformation about emergency contraception."

Wilkinson also suggested that the box labels on the contraception -- as well as the advertising -- may not be clear, and may be contributing to the problem.

In the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, graduate assistants posed as 17-year-old adolescents and called more than 900 pharmacies in diverse neighborhoods throughout the U.S. to see whether pharmacists would dispense the morning-after pill to the "teen" customers.

Eighty percent of pharmacies said they had Plan B in stock, and the availability of the pill was consistent across the diverse communities, researchers said.  But 19 percent of all the pharmacists told the "teenagers" that they could not obtain the pill under any circumstance, and they said the misinformation occurred more often -- 23.7 percent versus 14.6 percent -- in low-income neighborhoods.

While this study focused on pharmacies, Wilkinson said there is a lot of confusion about Plan B within the medical community at large, not just the pharmacies. Given the controversy surrounding the drug, and the changes in the rules and guidelines surrounding access, it's, "not really surprising that it permeates everywhere,'' she said.

Whatever the reason for the misinformation, whether it's a problem with staff education in the pharmacies, high turnover, the relative rarity of teens asking for the drug, she said, "at the end of the day, it puts adolescents in poor neighborhoods at a disadvantage," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mt. Sinai Working with Mozambique Officials to Improve Health Care

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Dr. Natasha Anushri Anandaraja, director of the Mount Sinai Global Health Training Center, and Dr. Sigrid Hahn have spent the past two years traveling with medical students from Mt. Sinai in New York City to remote Mozambique, where they are working with local health providers there to help villagers in remote areas gain access to basic health care.

Hahn explained that poverty is the biggest underlying cause for health issues in a region where the average salary is just seven cents a day. The Mozambique Health Ministry is working to convince villagers to understand why it is important that women go to the hospital where it is safer to have their babies.

The doctors are partnered up with Mozambican health care workers who speak the languages of the region and understand the deeply ingrained cultural issues. While trying to impress upon villagers the importance of getting to the hospital, the team recognizes that so many of the women will continue to give birth in the villages in part because they are so far away from any hospital and getting there is difficult.

In light of the circumstances, the team trains volunteer village birth attendants on how to identify and handle complications that arise in pregnancy and childbirth in a region where one in five infants die.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


USDA Report Outlines Food Insecurity in America

USDA(WASHINGTON) -- USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced the results of USDA's Household Food Security in the United States 2010 report.

The USDA’s report on hunger indicates that in 2010 there was no change in the number of people who say they have had trouble coming up with enough money to buy food at some point. In 2010 17.2 million households in America had difficulty providing enough food due to lack of resources.

But there was a slight drop in the number who say things got so bad that they had run out of food, skipped meals or otherwise cut back on eating on one or more occasions. That’s 5.4 percent of households in 2010, down from 5.7 percent in 2009

The report released Wednesday indicates that 59 percent of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest nutrition assistance programs around the time of the survey.

Food insecurity rates were substantially higher than the national average for households with incomes near or below the current federal poverty line, households with children headed by single women or single men and black and Hispanic households.

Food insecurity was more common in large cities and rural areas than in suburban areas and other outlying areas around large cities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More Americans in Their 50s Facing Hunger

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LEXINGTON, Ky.) -- Nancy and Randal Watkins say they were just like most middle-class couples in their early 50s.

The Lexington, Ky., couple made sure that every bill was paid on time. Then last year, Randal Watkins got sick and soon after his wife got sick. They eventually lost their jobs.

Now they can barely put food on the table.

According to an AARP report on hunger released Tuesday, nearly 9 million Americans in their 50s are more likely to be hungry than people in their 60s and 70s. When the 50-year old Americans become food insecure, they become twice as likely to become diabetic and five times more likely to suffer from depression.

"These are folks suffering from the recession and the economic declines in this country," Jo Ann Jenkins, president of the AARP Foundation, said. "Some of them have just recently lost jobs."

"Sometimes you don't want to get up," Nancy Watkins told ABC News through tears. "You think today will be better. So I'm thinking 'Lord, let me feel better.' Yea, every day that I get up."

The Watkinses use all kinds of tricks to make their food last. They eat food that's gone bad and eat cereal without milk.

"Sometimes there's not a lot of milk but you compromise," Nancy Watkins said. "You can use water."

They make too much from disability to get food stamps but the couple doesn't make enough to pay their bills. They owe $25,000 to a Kentucky hospital.

The Watkinses say they have to remain positive.

"Always remember that you're blessed regardless," Nancy Watkins said. "There's somebody out there worse off than you."

If you would like to donate money to help those in need of food, there are several ways. Feeding America will help provide food to an estimated 14 million children this year. The organization says that for $45, it can feed a family of four for a month. You can also make a food donation to your local food pantry.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hunger at Home: Since Recession 20 Million More Americans on Food Stamps

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The McKimmons girls in Arkansas pray before each dinner, grateful for every meal. Michelle Sutton near Atlanta sacrifices her own food for her boys. And 10-year-old Jahzaire Sutton in Philadelphia has a nearly empty refrigerator.

In every corner of the country, a portrait of hidden hunger has now emerged. The recession has pushed 2.4 million more children into poverty. Seventeen million children are "food insecure," meaning their parents often don't know where the next meal will come from.

Simply put, one in six Americans don't have enough food.

Dawn and Michael McKimmons live near Fort Smith, Ark., and have moved into a trailer to save money. Dawn works at a hotel, while Michael delivers pizzas. They have taken whatever jobs they could find, but it is still not enough to feed the family.

They make do with help from their local food bank and try to shield their three little girls from the daily struggle.

"I hear my kids ask me, 'Mommy what's for dinner?' And I sit there at times, I sit there and kind of just pace back and forth thinking to myself, 'Oh my gosh, what is for dinner,'" said Dawn.

Outside Atlanta, the Suttons slipped from the middle class when Bob Sutton's concrete company went under. Michelle Sutton said she used to be a typical soccer mom, but not anymore. She told ABC News that her 11-year-old son hugged her and said, "Wow, you feel skinny."

Dr. Mariana Chilton, founder of Witnesses to Hunger, says the recession has hit the middle class hard.

"People who have been middle class who are now struggling to put food on the table are feeling an enormous amount of stress," she said. "They are starting to experience the pain of poverty, of what it's like to be poor."

In Philadelphia, 10-year-old Jahzaire Sutton knows it's the end of the month, when the food stamps have long run out.

His mother is trying to finish her degree so she can find work.

When asked what is toughest for him, Sutton said, "When I eat, and my mom doesn't. She sacrifices."

Before the recession, 26 million Americans were on food stamps. Today, that number has grown to more than 46 million, or one in seven Americans.

Sutton says he wants to be a senator when he grows up and has even written to Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., to ask for help.

Without a car, Sutton and his mother are forced to walk to Rite Aid to buy food. Rite Aid is the closest store, but it is often too expensive and there is no supermarket nearby. Walmart is their best alternative.

St. Christopher's Hospital in Philadelphia is ground zero for hunger. The emergency room might see 250 children a day, and up to half are hungry.

"They don't have the growth that they should," said. Dr. Chris Haines, ER director at St. Christopher's Hospital. "What disturbs me is that your brain grows much in your childhood, and nutrition is what's important to your brain's growth."

Tom Lesher, who brought his grandson to the hospital, has been out of a job for 18 months.

"Things are going to get tough," he said. "I don't know what I'm going to do. I can't find a job."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hunger in America: How to Help

Comstock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- One in six Americans does cannot get enough food, and more than 50 million Americans live in "food insecure" households, according to Feeding America, a U.S. hunger-relief organization.

Hunger exists throughout America, in cities, suburbs and rural areas, affecting people of every race and religion, according to the organization. Doctors at Boston Medical Center's Grow Clinic said they have seen a dramatic increase in the number of children they treat who are dangerously thin.

"What's so hard is that a lot of families are working so hard," said Dr. Megan Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics and public health at BMC. "They are working jobs. They are earning money, and their dollars just don't go far enough."

Nearly 15 million children live in poverty in the U.S., according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, and that number is up almost 20 percent from 2000, primarily because of higher unemployment and foreclosures. While children across the nation are in need, the neediest are in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Here's how you can help those in need of food.

Organizations That Help the Hungry

Feeding America: Feeding America will help provide food to an estimated 14 million children this year. The organization says that for $45, it can feed a family of four for a month.

To donate to Feeding America Click Here, or you can contribute $10 by texting FEED to 50555.

Food Bank for New York City: Food Bank for New York City is one of America's largest food banks, and its mission is to end hunger in New York City by tackling it on three fronts: food distribution, income support and nutrition education. The organization says it provides 400,000 free meals a day for New Yorkers in need.

To donate to the Food Bank for New York City Click Here.

Freedom From Hunger: Established in 1946 Freedom From Hunger works in 19 countries to help the poorest people in the world achieve food security. The organization says its microfinance programs serve more than 18 million people.

To donate to Freedom From Hunger Click Here.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio