Editorial from the Progress Newsletter
November 1986, Vol. 2, No. 3
© 1986, 2004
For the first time in several years, the National Pediculosis Association was not among the exhibitors at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. Our decision not to participate this year was based on our concerns about apparent inconsistencies in policy within the APHA. Over the past two years, we have concluded that APHA editorial positions are contradicted by the advertisements carried in its publications. In addition, the sheer volume of pediculicide advertising testifies to a lice epidemic that continues to go unaddressed at the APHA Annual Meetings.
The following are among the inconsistencies we have noted: (1) The May 1985 issue of the American Journal of Public Health contained an article about the hazards to children from contact with pesticide/ herbicide-treated lawns. The same issue advertised a pesticide spray intended for use on children's bedding.
(2) While pediculicide manufacturers are represented by more exhibits at the Annual Meeting than any other disease category, and while these manufacturers are among the major advertising sponsors of the AJPH, the American Public Health Association neither addresses pediculosis in its five-day program nor develops any policy statement, guideline or goal regarding the direction of pediculosis management in this country.
(3) In the April 1986 issue of The Nation's Health, APHA leader and Massachusetts Health Commissioner, Dr. Bailus Walker, Jr., stated that "household pesticide usage is playing a more significant role in human exposure to pesticides than previously thought..." In his letter discouraging reliance on chemical based pesticides, Dr. Walker went on to mention mites, beetles,
mosquitoes and cockroaches, but omitted human lice, which account for tens of millions of dollars in pesticide purchases each year.
(4) As we noted in the March 1986 issue of Archives of Dermatology, pediculosis management has historically been guided by pharmaceutical company marketing, and as a result, has been characterized by confusing and contradictory information. By running four or five competing pediculicide ads in each issue, the APHA only perpetuates the prevailing confusion.
As an agency member of the APHA, we look to this umbrella organization as a vital advocate of the public's health and well-being -- one that must, by definition, base its policies on quality resource information and represent its views consistently to our elected representatives, the public health community and the public itself.
As a result, we urge the leadership of the APHA to reconsider its future acceptance of pesticide product advertising as being inconsistent with its health goals for our nation. We further urge the APHA to acknowledge the widespread impact of pediculosis and resolve to address it in 1987.