Health leaders partner to talk key issues with West Virginians

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Health care leaders from around West Virginia have joined forces to educate the public about specific health issues.

The organization called Rx for West Virginia is led by Dr. Michael Brumage, health officer of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and Dr. Michael Kilkenny, health officer of the Cabell-Huntington Health Departments. Other partners include the American Heart Association, the Charleston Area Medical Center, the Kanawha Coalition for Community Health Improvement and the West Virginia Association of Local Health Departments.

Topics include the importance of childhood vaccines, the dangers of consuming raw milk and the support of smoke-free indoor environments.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of conflicting information, so we wanted to be very clear about those three messages in particular,” said Brumage. “Speaking as a group, we feel that is much more powerful than standing and saying these messages alone.”

A press conference was held Friday in Charleston to introduce the organization to members of the media and local health leaders.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there have been 148 outbreaks from raw milk resulting in over 2,300 illnesses, more than 280 hospital visits and two deaths from 1998-2011. A bill to allow the consumption of raw milk in West Virginia passed both the Senate and the House last year, but was vetoed by the governor.

“We know that raw milk is dangerous,” Brumage said. “We don’t see any kind of health benefit from drinking raw milk. Pasteurized milk and milk products really are the only way really to go with that.”

The group is also pushing for more West Virginians to get vaccinated to prevent deadly diseases.

“(There’s) some of the best immunization laws on the record and so we want to continue to make sure that our children in West Virginia are protected,” said Brumage.

When it comes to clean indoor air regulations, he said most people across the state don’t smoke, so they want to continue to “look after the health and well-being of the majority of our population.”

Rx for West Virginia will be speaking to local audiences and post information on their organization’s websites.