Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 08, 2007

Fire toll underscores an injury epidemic

Last month's tragic loss of life in a house fire in Baltimore ("Death toll in city fire now up to 8," June 3) and the death of a child who fell from a third-story window at her home in Montgomery County underscore the public health issue of injury, an epidemic hiding in plain sight.

Every day, 16,000 people around the world die from injuries. And by the year 2020, some estimates project that traffic injuries alone will be the third-leading cause of death and disability in the world.

In the United States, injury is the No. 1 cause of death for people ages 1 to 44, and more children under 15 years old die from injuries than from cancer, heart disease and sudden infant death syndrome combined. The 50 million injuries that require medical treatment in a single year cost our society $406 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity.

Why does this problem continue year after year?

The simple truth is that we as a society have often failed to recognize that injuries, just like other health problems, can be prevented and controlled through science and the translation of research into effective programs and policies.

A recent national public opinion poll showed that more than 1 in 10 people think injuries are caused by carelessness and stupidity.

In fact, decades of research has identified many of the risk factors and protective factors associated with injuries.

As a result, we have developed lifesaving interventions such as seat belts, air bags, car safety seats, smoke alarms, bicycle helmets, tougher drunken driving laws and new trauma centers, to name just a few.

Now we need to accelerate the translation of our knowledge into public health action - and to find ways to ensure that everyone has equal access to the protections that work to prevent and control injury.

Andrea Gielen

Baltimore

The writer is director of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Injury Research and Policy.

No-pain breast scan may have saved life

Many thanks to Susan Reimer for having the courage to write an honest column about one reason mammogram rates have declined: mammograms hurt ("Mammogram column sparked scolding, praise," June 5).

I am a 58-year-old African-American who put off having a mammogram for 10 years because the test hurt too much.

Even after I felt a lump, I wouldn't get a mammogram because of the pain.

Then the people at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore said I should try getting a mammogram with a breast cushion.

With a cushion, the mammogram didn't hurt at all.

And thank goodness, because that test led to a biopsy, which showed that my lump was cancer. I had a mastectomy in January.

Getting that mammogram probably saved my life.

Darlene Milling-Bey

Baltimore

Put lives of victims on the front page

I fear The Sun's coverage of the homicide rate in Baltimore has become more about numbers than people ("Death on the streets," June 5).

What might happen if The Sun ran an obituary for each murder victim on the front page?

Like The New York Times' effort to eulogize those killed on 9/11, this might help add names and stories to the count.

One can become hardened to numbers.

But, I would hope, not to lives.

Marian Grant

Reisterstown

Some didn't believe O'Malley's pledge

I was quite amused by the letter "Attacking O'Malley won't cut energy bill" (June 5).

But I think the reason that there is not a great deal of anger now directed toward Constellation Energy CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III is that he is doing what he is supposed to do - seek to make his company profitable.

However, it was Martin O'Malley who proclaimed, while running for governor, that we needed "real leadership" to prevent the rubber-stamping of the rate increase and insisted he would stand up against Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

I was born on a day; it just wasn't yesterday. So I voted for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

But many across the state of Maryland swallowed the hook and voted for Mr. O'Malley, and yet (and here comes the understatement of the year) he didn't deliver on all that he promised.

Robert McKoy

Reisterstown

Frivolous road sign no help to drivers

A Maryland highway administrator's sophomoric attempt to entertain westbound travelers on Interstate 70 with a road sign displaying distance trivia (such as the 2,200 miles to get to Cove Fort, Utah, from here) falls short of what most daily commuters along this busy route would hope for from their government ("Go West, Young Man," June 4).

Such frivolous use of resources and public service energy might be better channeled into deploying some active signage alerting eastbound I-70 travelers of impending congestion delay before they enter the five-mile stretch-of-no-return after U.S. 29.

Frequent stand-still backups and tedious gas-consuming queues of cars might be lessened or avoided with well-placed and timely signs warning motorists to consider alternative routes of travel.

Jim Russell

Lutherville

It's easy to see why the zoo is in decline

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