Friday, November 30, 2018

Breaking free: How several initiatives are helping Africa get better healthcare

If you are an African, you are likely to live shorter than people elsewhere. Be it child mortality, maternal mortality or the risk of death from non-communicable diseases, the continent grapples with healthcare issues. Small initiatives, however, are springing up in several countries to help the citizens. Down To Earth focuses on a few of them.
Condom kiosks fight the risk of HIV
United States-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has collaborated with the country’s Ministry of Health through Rwanda Biomedical Centre to set up round-the-clock kiosks to distribute condoms for free.
The initiative, started in May 2016, is aimed at reducing new HIV infections as well as focus on family planning, says Narcisse Nteziryayo, in charge of prevention activities at AHF-Rwanda. A kiosk typically vends out 3,000 condoms a day, reaching up to 7,000 pieces in the weekends and totaling to about 28,000 pieces a month. At the end of the first year, over a million condoms were distributed.
Capital Kigali currently has five such kiosks. “As new infections continued, we thought about how to make condoms accessible,” Nteziryayo says. According to him, the facility kicked off at hospitality centres and was later expanded to cover those who don’t have access to hotels.
After the success in Kigali, the program has been expended, especially in borders areas. Every kiosk is put under the charge of a person who receives a monthly allowance. It takes $10,000 to keep a kiosk running.
Among those the facilities serve, 71 per cent are aged 18-30 years and 57 per cent attended secondary schools. While 37 per cent were sex workers, 21 per cent were civil servant and 17 per cent drivers, an AHF survey found.
The number of people infected by HIV has been a steady 3 per cent for over a decade now. They receive free antiretroviral therapy regularly.
“We welcomed the kiosks as they made condoms free. Earlier we paid 100 Rwandan francs (11 cents) for a pack of four; at times we preferred not to use them to save money. We hope more kiosks come up in other locations,” Nadia Kaneza, one of the kiosk users in Kigali, says.
About three million condoms are imported per year, which will be increased to four million from the next. Kasha, an online health service supplier, is now planning to start delivering the condoms from kiosks to other destinations.
Initiatives to address shortage of health personnel
Barely three years after graduating with a diploma in clinical medicine and surgery from a local medical training college, Statius Osoro runs two clinics in western Kenya’s Nyamira County and employs four fully qualified health workers at his Bethany clinics in North Masaba.
The youthful father of one employs a nurse and a pharmaceutical technologist at each clinic, among them an eight-bed facility that admits inpatients.
The ambitious clinician, who offers critical health services, is a 2016 graduate of AfyaElimu Fund (Swahili for Education for Health Fund)—a Human Resources for Health (HRM) project implemented by non-governmental organisation IntraHealth International, Kenya’s Strathmore Business School and African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF).
The fund (AEF) was founded in 2013 to address the shortage of health personnel in Kenya by offering support through loans to students for enrolling in medical training institutes, says Wasunna Owino, HRM Kenya, head of party.
“The aim was to address the critical shortage of frontline health professionals who offer ‘promotive’ and preventative health services in dispensaries and health centres-at community level,” he told Down To Earth in Nairobi.
It started with a $1.19 million seed money from the United States Agency for International Development, $100,000 from the health ministry Health as well funds from other contributors including Rattansi Education Trust.
The money was meant to be lent to the most needy students, including those with disabilities, orphaned, from disadvantaged backgrounds and marginalised areas. The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), a government agency speacialising in disbursement of education loans, was roped in for effective execution.
“We decided at the outset that this wouldn’t be a scholarship, but a revolving fund—those who benefit repay,” Owino says. Beneficiaries get a one-year grace period to start paying back over five years.
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Up to $400 per year is offered to a student, equivalent to tuition fees for the average $1,500 total fees medical colleges charge per year.
The fund, now at $11.7 million, has so far helped 4,814 students graduate. Another 1,232 are employed, 90 per cent of whom have started repayment. Currently, 18,211 are enrolled at 110 MTCs.
The fund is now trying to partner with governments, says Owino. 

The Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA) works towards providing access to healthy food and clean water to all within a healthy and sustainable environment.
It works to:
  1. Build a healthy food environment, by educating and empowering South Africans to make healthy food and lifestyle choices to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
  2. Hold government and ‘Big Food’ accountable for the effects of their policies and products on health.
“We see a high burden of obesity-related diseases in South Africa,” says HEALA Director Sibongile Nkosi. “The situation is complex. Despite high rates of NCDs, people continue to drink Coca-Cola and eat carbohydrate-dense food,” she adds.
Established in 2016, HEALA is an alliance of seven South African non-governmental organizations instrumental in the advocacy and implementation of health promotion levy—an 11 per cent tax on sugary beverages was introduced in April. “We lobbied with parliamentarians and political parties to vote for the tax, and tried to raise public awareness of the dangers of sugary drinks through mass media,” Nkosi says.
HEALA is now working on a campaign to remove junk food and sugary drinks from schools, targeting school feeding schemes, tuck-shops, vendors, the marketing of junk food for children and understanding of food labels by students.
“In October we picketed in front of Coca-Cola offices in Johannesburg to hand over a memorandum urging the company to honour their pledge to stop advertising to school children,” Nkosi argued. The multinational pledged to stop advertising to children in 2009 and 2012.
HEALA also has educational campaigns to raise awareness about the impact of diet on health: “We take Coca-Cola products, including energy drinks and ice tea, and calculate their sugar content with the help of the children. Then we show them how much sugar they contains by putting teaspoons of sugar in a glass,” Nkosi says.
An earlier campaign through outreaches at clinics tried to educate pregnant women about the link between stunting and obesity.
The west African country has adopted ‘One Health’, an approach to tackle human and animal diseases as well as environmental pollution.
The source of the 2014 Ebola outbreak could be traced to wild fruit bats in Meliandou, a village located in the Gueckedou prefecture of Guinea. Medical researchers believe that the village was the location of the first known case of Ebola virus disease in the epidemic in West Africa.
More than 11,300 people were killed mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone in the outbreak that commanded a hybrid national and international response. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 43 per cent of those deaths were in Liberia, where the epidemic peaked between August and October with hundreds of cases a week.
In the region where fruit bats and bush meat are a major delicacy, health authorities warn people against eating wildlife (animals) as a precaution, but that warning was being ignored in Liberia.
Months after the Ebola outbreak in 2016, One Health, a collaborative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment was adopted.
The initiative is supervised by a national secretariat, which works with the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, the National Public Health Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It depends on disease surveillance, community-based surveillance, facilities surveillance as well as regional surveillance.
Those providing laboratory services unite to assess capacity needs and gaps as well as find solutions such as training. There are national and sub-national rapid response teams to ensure timely and robust response to any outbreak. The secretariat also has an anti-microbial technical working group and human resource technical working group.
One Health Coordinator Sonpon Sieh says the framework was endorsed by the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO).
Under the human resource technical working group, the secretariat will institutionalise training programs at the national level. “There is an ongoing capacity building programme for field epidemiologists,” Sieh says.
The ministries and agencies conduct joint planning, investigation and joint implementation. This allows for information sharing and joint supervision, he adds but admits that admits that Liberia lacks experts and equipment to detect and control chemical pollution on an industrial skill.

How London became the tuberculosis capital of Europe

Much of London is invisible to its inhabitants. We are largely unaware, for example, of the 250 miles of railway track running underground and the hundreds of other lives being lived in the buildings that surround our own. Despite having lived on the same road in Kentish Town for 20 years, I have never seen the inside of a neighbour’s house.
Read more »

WHO technical team meets to assess anti-polio campaign

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 27 – World Health Organization’s Polio Technical Advisory Group (TAG) is this week meeting in Nairobi to evaluate progress made in ending outbreaks of polio-virus in Kenya and Somalia.
A polio outbreak in Somalia last year resulted into the paralysis of several children in the Horn of Africa nation, a situation the global health agency wants to bring under control/FILE

In a three-day conference beginning on Tuesday, the 18th TAG will also review Uganda, Tanzania, Djibouti, South Sudan, Yemen, and Sudan to establish the readiness of respective countries to tackle a polio outbreak.
A polio outbreak in Somalia last year resulted into the paralysis of several children in the Horn of Africa nation, a situation the global health agency wants to bring under control.
Some parts of Kenya have also been reported to be in danger after a vaccine-derived polio virus was traced in a sewage water sample in April last year.
The virus found in Eastleigh was linked to polio-virus samples tested in Mogadishu in October-November last year, and January this year.
The emergence of the vaccine-derived polio virus in southern Somalia in 2017 and in the informal settlements of Nairobi in Eastleigh in 2018 is a confirmation that the polio threat is real and the virus continues to circulate undetected in the sub-region”, WHO Representative Dr Rudi Eggers stated.
The Ministry of Health is currently undertaking a polio campaign covering 12 high risk counties targeting 2.8 million children aged 5 years and below.
In Nairobi alone, 800,000 children have been targeted in a previous vaccination campaign in July.
2.5 million children were vaccinated during the campaign  in twelve counties.
Following the discovery of the polio-virus at in Eastleigh, the government upscaled vigilance to deter an outbreak of polio boarder surveillance and an elaborate immunization programme targeting Nairobi though a Rapid Results Initiative that lasted 100 days.
Kenya also participated in a synchronized polio campaign with Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Somalia, in September.
While lobbying for the joint effort, Eggers said a united approach was critical to suppressing polio.
It also emphasizes the importance of population movements between the countries and the need to address polio eradication activities as a sub-region, not only in a single country like Kenya,” the regional WHO chief said.
Eggers noted progress made in fighting cholera with the number of children paralyzed as a result of cholera declining from 350,000 annually in 1988 to only 22 in 2017.
“Only 1 per cent is left to totally eradicate the disease and we can do this by vaccinating children with the two drops of the vaccine,” he said.

Decaying health sector is a chronic problem for Somalia

My first visit to Somalia was a 183-km road trip from Hargeisa to Burao. The journey, that would have taken a few hours, took a whole day to complete as I navigated through dry river valleys and bumpy roads. The sheer absence of public services along the route was disconcerting. There were no roads, schools or accessible health facilities. For a country struggling to survive a continuing drought since 2011, which has left millions hungry and malnourished, the absence of proper health facilities was disturbing. 
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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Columbus Welcomes Ohio's First Somali Primary Care Clinic

Columbus' Somali population is the second-largest in the country, at about 40,000 people. Research shows that the community is especially underserved when it comes to preventative testing like pap smears, vaccinations, colon cancer screening, and mammograms.
Somali people that live in Columbus, most of them came to this country as refugees,” says Amina Abdule, a nurse practitioner and one of the clinic owners. “A lot of them do not speak the language. When they go to a provider that is not a Somali speaker, there is a language barrier.
Abdule says she’s seen firsthand the need for a clinic like this one—the language barrier makes it complicated for patients to explain their symptoms, get prescriptions or understand a doctor’s directions. Here, all the doctors, nurses, and pharmacists will speak Somali.
A space like this means a safe haven,” says Farhiya Shirwa, one of the clinic founders. “I can really go deeper in asking, to avoid misdiagnosis, over-diagnosis, or under-diagnosis.
Shirwa, who came to the United States in 2004, earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Cincinnati and a master’s in family nurse partitioning at the Mount Carmel College of Nursing. She’s now pursuing post-master’s work in midwifery at Frontier School of Nursing and a doctorate in nursing at Otterbein University.

Primary care services like the Medcare Clinic are generally associated with higher completion rates of preventive services. 

Farhiya Shirwa in an exam room in the new Somali primary care clinic.
At the grand opening, attendees said that the clinic being owned by two Somali women will help women feel comfortable talking about reproductive health, and set a strong example for young Somali girls.
“I am really excited, I’m excited for the community,” Shirwa says. “I’m excited for what we have accomplished, I’m excited for what we can accomplish in the future.”
The clinic, at 4125 West Broad Street, will officially open its doors Tuesday. And they'll welcomes everyone—Somali or not.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

WHO and Somali Government roll out process to deliver quality health services to all Somalis

Work begins to develop a roadmap to attain universal health coverage in Somalia

Participants at the UHC meeting in Somalia
Participants at the UHC meeting in Somalia. WHO Somalia

In a country where around three quarters of the population lives under US$2 per day, financial hardship is one of the key reasons why Somalis do not access or seek health services. Somalia also falls far below the minimum global expectation of doctor/patient ratio. Currently, there are only four doctors, nurses or midwives for every 10 000 people in Somalia. In addition, one out of every 12 women dies due to causes related to pregnancy, and 1 out of every 7 Somali children dies under the age of 5.
WHO is working with the Somali Government and partners to change this situation. Together, they convened a meeting on 8 November in Mogadishu to develop a roadmap to attain universal health coverage (UHC) in Somalia to ensure that everyone, everywhere can access essential, quality health services, without facing financial hardship.
Led by the Somali Ministry of Health, this meeting saw senior technical government staff and United Nations (UN) agencies discuss key issues related to Somalia’s health sector in an effort to advance UHC in the country. The development of the roadmap began with government representatives, UN agencies, nongovernmental organizations and donors conducting an in-depth review of the Somali health situation at a seminar held in Nairobi in April 2018. Participants at this seminar explored ways to localize the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 – good health and well-being – in the Somali context, compared the products delivered by the Somali essential package of health services, and discussed global best practices contained in “Disease Control Priorities” (third edition).
Reiterating WHO’s commitment towards ensuring equitable health care for all in Somalia, WHO Somalia Representative, Dr Ghulam Popal stated, “WHO is dedicated to changing the rhetoric in Somalia with support from our partners. We are committed to support Somalia to make progress in providing essential services to all individuals and communities in need, while ensuring they do not suffer financial hardship.”
Currently, WHO is working with the Ministry of Health, with substantive support from the Government of Japan, to conduct a series of consultations with Somali stakeholders to develop a common understanding of the roadmap to attaining UHC, and to ensure the plan is realistic, comprehensive, reaches out to a wide range of beneficiaries, complements health-related SDGs, and considers national health strategic priorities.
The Director-General for the Somali Ministry of Health, Dr Abdullahi Hashi, outlined the importance of involving different stakeholders to develop an effective roadmap on UHC. “Reactivating health sector coordination in Somalia will be important for us to have a more effective response towards attaining UHC,” Hashi said, adding that the plan should set realistic baselines and targets, adopt cost-effective interventions, and develop a joint nexus with the humanitarian work in the country.
At the Mogadishu meeting, partners explored options for health financing and health governance reforms, while emphasizing the importance of delivery of essential services through both development and humanitarian approaches.
Following the in-country consultations, WHO and the Ministry of Health will conduct a workshop in Nairobi to finalize the UHC roadmap, with support from the Government of Japan.
Somali stakeholders acknowledge the role of the Somali Ministry of Health and WHO in providing a platform for setting common strategic directions in Somalia’s weak health sector. They reiterated the importance of having similar discussions and regular joint reviews around health in Somalia to ensure the country’s progress in attaining development goals.
For additional information on universal health coverage in Somalia, kindly contact:
Dr Humayun Rizwan
WHO Somalia
Medical Officer, Health Systems Strengthening

First ever mobile clinic Hargeisa brings doctors closer to patients

(ERGO) – Health professionals in Hargeisa have launched the first-ever mobile clinic in Somaliland, taking health care closer to the people who need it.
The mobile clinic aims to reach thousands of people, who have to travel long distances to the nearest medical facility and have to cope with emergency cases at home.

Qaar ka mid ah takhaatiirta adeegyada bixiya/Sawir/Ilyas/Ergo

Muhyadin Dabeyl, the chairman of the seven-member group, told Radio Ergo the Mobile Health Care Organisation (MOHCO) aims to institute reforms in the health sector by improving access, quality, and safe medical practices.
“We treat people at their homes. Our aim is not to make money but to deliver accessible and good quality health services. Our charges are affordable,” Muhyadin said.
MOHCO has installed a telephone hotline service enabling patients to access help at any time of the day.
“The hotline service ensures the needs of people are reported to the hospital and attended to promptly. We have seen an increasing number of people calling us for medical help,” said Muhyadin.
The mobile clinic also conducts targeted health awareness campaigns in and around the town. The service has two doctors, one blood technician, two nurses, and two pharmacists.
So far MOHCO has attended to 93 patients in and around Hargeisa and has vaccinated 243 people against hepatitis.
Ali Jama Mohamud, who lives in Ga’an-libah village in Hargeisa, called the mobile hospital hotline when his nine-year-old daughter fell sick. The doctors responded within a short time.
“I would not have been able to manage the bus fare and medical costs if we opted to go to another hospital in the town. I called them and they treated my daughter for$10,” Ali said.
Amran Abdullahi, Ali’s wife, appreciated the fast response.
“My daughter was sick for five days and we did not have money to take her to hospital. I got information about this group from other people who had previously been treated by the hospital,” said Amran, who sells vegetable in Hargeisa market.
Another satisfied patient, Amin Abdirahman Jama, had a series of three hepatitis vaccinations at the mobile hospital.
“I saved time and money because other hospitals cost $80 and this time I only spent $20 to get the three doses needed. I really like their services,” Amin said.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Kenya: bold political choices best guarantee for good health care

For Societies and Nations to prosper, good health and wellbeing are fundamental. Primary Health Care (PHC) plays a critical role in achieving health for all. It is an essential feature of health systems that secures accessible, affordable, cost-effective, quality, equitable, comprehensive, integrated and people centered services.
Existing evidence indicate health systems that are developed around strong PHC deliver better health outcomes because 90 per cent of all health needs can be met at the Primary Health Care level.

Alma-Ata declaration
 It is in this regard that 40 years ago, 134 countries adopted the declaration of Alma-Ata, which set a target for the attainment of health for all. Progress in the uptake of PHC across the world has since contributed to raising global standards of health care, delivered important population health gains, including improved life expectancy and increased child survival. 

Kenya has made tremendous strides in health care provision. Life expectancy has improved from an average of 48 years in 1978 to 65 years.  Similarly, under-five mortality has reduced from 175 to 54 deaths per 1,000 live births and maternal mortality ratio from more than 800 deaths per 100,000 deliveries in 1978 to 362 deaths per 100,000 deliveries. 
The use of modern contraceptives has increased from as low as 7 per cent in 1978 to 52 per cent in 2018 while fertility rate has reduced from 8.1 per cent to the current 3.8 per cent. Likewise, we have managed to increase the proportion of deliveries by skilled personnel to 62 per cent and the fully immunized children below one year to 80 per cent.

Malaria fatality cases and TB infections have been reduced while the prevalence of HIV has declined from 14 per cent to 5.6 per cent. Diseases like smallpox have been eradicated while guinea worm infections and maternal tetanus have reduced significantly. 
While we cherish these tremendous achievements, the world is now grappling with emerging challenges. For example, close to six million children are lost around the world every year before their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes. Over 150 million children are stunted and many adults are still dying from non-communicable diseases. The emerging challenges of non-communicable diseases including cancers and cardiovascular diseases, mental health, trauma and violence and the unattained goal of health for all has reignited a call for comprehensive PHC interventions.

At a recent global conference in Astana, Kazakhstan to revitalize PHC, Kenya renewed its commitment to develop people-centred PHC interventions, build on the principles of the Alma-Ata Declaration towards UHC and Sustainable Development Goals. The adopted Astana Declaration pledges to make bold political choices for health across all sectors, build sustainable PHC interventions, empower individuals and communities and align stakeholder support to national policies, strategies and plans. We share the common global goals. 
Consequently, we shall carry out the following: Firstly, prioritise, promote and protect people’s health and well-being at both population and individual levels, through strong health systems.

 What we'll do 
Secondly, promote primary health care and health services that are high quality, safe, comprehensive, integrated, accessible, available and affordable for everyone and everywhere, provided with compassion, respect and dignity by health professionals who are well-trained, skilled, motivated and committed.

And thirdly, create enabling and health-conducive environments in which individuals and communities are empowered and engaged in maintaining and enhancing their health and well-being and finally push for alignment of partners and stakeholders activities toward providing effective support to national health policies, strategies and plans. The success of our health system depends on PHC-oriented interventions geared towards proactive care, prevention measures, and health promotion at the local population level.

We are investing in PHC through community-based care, first-level health facilities, and population-based interventions with a hinge on individual and social behaviour for healthy choices throughout the life cycle. 
Mrs Kariuki is the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health


FGM rates in east Africa drop from 71% to 8% in 20 years, study shows

The number of girls undergoing female genital mutilation has fallen dramatically in east Africa over the past two decades, according to a study published in BMJ Global Health.

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The US just elected 9 new scientists to Congress, including an ocean expert, a nurse, and a biochemist. Here's the full list

When the 116th Congress heads to Washington in January, there will be a record number of women in the ranks — at least 123, according to the news website Axios, including the first Muslim women, the first Somali-American, and the first Native American women.
There will be more scientists too.
On Tuesday, nine new science-credentialed candidates were elected: one senator and eight members of the House.
The members of the current 115th Congress include one physicist, one microbiologist, and one chemist, as well as eight engineers and one mathematician. The medical professions are slightly better represented, with three nurses and 15 doctors, as well as at least three veterinarians.
The new winners will bolster those science ranks. The Democratic candidates who won all ran successful campaigns with the support of a nonprofit political action committee called 314 Action, which started in 2016 and is dedicated to recruiting, training, and funding scientists and healthcare workers who want to run for political office. (One Republican engineer turned businessman won a race in Oklahoma, without support from the PAC.)
"Scientists are essentially problem-solvers," Shaughnessy Naughton, the president of 314 Action, told Business Insider before the election results came in.
Since Congress often wrestles with complex issues like climate change, cybersecurity, and how to provide fairer, cheaper healthcare, Naughton said she thought the US should put more scientists into the decision-making body.
"Who better to be tackling these issues than scientists?" she said.
Here's what to know about the new scientists heading to the Hill.

Jacky Rosen, a computer programmer who positioned herself as a moderate Democrat, beat her Republican opponent, Dean Heller, in the US Senate race in Nevada.

Jacky Rosen, a computer programmer who positioned herself as a moderate Democrat, beat her Republican opponent, Dean Heller, in the US Senate race in Nevada.John Locher/AP
Rosen, who two years ago was elected to represent Nevada's 3rd District in the House, touted her role in the construction of a large solar array in a Las Vegas suburb that she said lowered her synagogue's energy bill by 70%.
During the campaign, she criticized Heller for his deciding vote on a law letting internet service providers sell consumer data without their permission. Despite initially opposing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Heller also changed his stance on the healthcare law and supported a Republican replacement plan.
Nevada's turnout was enormous, with twice as many early voters as there were in the 2014 midterm elections.

Chrissy Houlahan, an industrial engineer, Democrat, and Air Force veteran, won the House seat in Pennsylvania's 6th District.

Chrissy Houlahan, an industrial engineer, Democrat, and Air Force veteran, won the House seat in Pennsylvania's 6th District.AP Photo/Matt Rourke
Houlahan, who said she would focus on making healthcare more affordable, defeated her Republican challenger, Greg McCauley, a tax lawyer who has owned 20 Wendy's franchises, after Rep. Ryan Costello decided not to seek reelection.
Houlahan is one of several women who will represent states that currently have no women in the House. She will be the 6th District's first Democratic representative since 2003.

In South Carolina's 1st District, which has been red since 1981, Joe Cunningham, an ocean scientist, defeated the Republican hopeful Katie Arrington.

In South Carolina's 1st District, which has been red since 1981, Joe Cunningham, an ocean scientist, defeated the Republican hopeful Katie Arrington.Mic Smith/AP
Cunningham, who is also a lawyer, sparred with Arrington throughout the campaign over the future of offshore drilling. His expertise in this area won over the Republican mayors of the coastal cities of Folly Beach and Isle of Palms.
Arrington, who has served in South Carolina's House of Representatives, does not oppose offshore drilling. She emphasized national issues such as immigration and President Donald Trump's proposed wall along the US-Mexico border, while Cunningham focused on local issues.
Cunningham won the race by 4,036 votes, a margin of 1.4 percentage points. An outcome with a margin of 1 percentage point or less would have triggered an automatic recount.

Sean Casten, a biochemical engineer, defeated Rep. Peter Roskam, the Republican incumbent, in Illinois' 6th District.

Sean Casten, a biochemical engineer, defeated Rep. Peter Roskam, the Republican incumbent, in Illinois' 6th District.314 Action
Casten, who founded a waste-energy recovery company with his father, was victorious in a district that had been a Republican stronghold since 1970.
Roskam, who has represented the district since 2007, has called the consensus on climate change "junk science." After Casten decided to run, Roskam joined the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.
During his campaign, Casten frequently criticized Trump and focused on healthcare, climate change, gun control, and LGBTQ rights.

Elaine Luria, a nuclear engineer, won her House seat in Virginia, becoming the first Democrat since 2008 to represent the 2nd District.

Elaine Luria, a nuclear engineer, won her House seat in Virginia, becoming the first Democrat since 2008 to represent the 2nd District.314 Action
Luria, who joined the US Navy when she was 17, spent 20 years operating nuclear reactors as an engineer and Navy commander. She defeated Rep. Scott Taylor on Tuesday after focusing her campaign on expanding the Affordable Care Act, pushing for tighter gun laws, and increasing the minimum wage.
Taylor, a former Navy Seal, was seeking his second term in Congress. In September, The Virginian-Pilot reported that Taylor was subpoenaed to testify in a lawsuit alleging that some of his campaign staff members circulated fraudulent petitions to help get an independent candidate on the district's ballot.

In Washington state, Kim Schrier, a pediatrician, defeated former state Sen. Dino Rossi to become the 8th District's first Democratic representative.

In Washington state, Kim Schrier, a pediatrician, defeated former state Sen. Dino Rossi to become the 8th District's first Democratic representative.Elaine Thompson/AP
Schrier was leading with about 53% of the vote as of Wednesday afternoon, and Rossi conceded later in the day after new vote totals put Schrier even further ahead.
Since the 8th District was created in 1983, only three Republicans have been elected to represent it. This year's 8th District election was the most expensive House race in Washington state history.
Schrier, who started her medical practice more than 15 years ago, will become the first female doctor in Congress.

In Illinois' 14th District, Lauren Underwood, a registered nurse, unseated Randy Hultgren, the four-term Republican incumbent.

In Illinois' 14th District, Lauren Underwood, a registered nurse, unseated Randy Hultgren, the four-term Republican incumbent.314 Action
Underwood was a senior adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama. In the role, she focused on preventing and responding to bioterrorism threats, public-health emergencies, and other disasters.
This year, Underwood focused her campaign on expanding access to healthcare, noting that she has a preexisting condition: an irregular heart rhythm.
She will be the first black woman to represent the 14th District, which is about 86% white.

The only new Republican scientist in Congress so far is Kevin Hern, a former aerospace engineer and businessman who handily beat his Democratic challenger, Tim Gilpin, in Oklahoma's 1st District, which includes Tulsa.

Hern's LinkedIn page says he holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Arkansas Tech University.
"While moving around during his early adulthood, Kevin worked a variety of jobs including working in the Aerospace industry for Rockwell, writing computer programs to automate tasks for businesses, real estate, and even hog farming," his campaign website says.
His dream at the time was to be an astronaut. Then the space shuttle Challenger blew up in 1986, and he pivoted to fast food.
"That was a very humbling experience," he said in a campaign video. "I'd gone from working with Ph.D. guys to on Saturday morning cooking Egg McMuffins with a 16-year-old."
Hern is a vocal Trump supporter who wants to expand the US-Mexico border wall and repeal the Affordable Care Act. He owns 10 McDonald's restaurants around the Tulsa area.
In Washington, he'll replace Rep. Jim Bridenstine, who's now the NASA administrator.

In New Jersey's southernmost 2nd District, Jeff Van Drew, a dentist, will replace Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo, who's represented that part of the state since 1995 and is retiring.

In New Jersey's southernmost 2nd District, Jeff Van Drew, a dentist, will replace Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo, who's represented that part of the state since 1995 and is retiring.Mel Evans/AP
Van Drew, who's been a New Jersey state senator since 2008, has sponsored legislation to help children with dyslexia, preserve farmland, and stop offshore drilling on the coast.
He has said his biggest focus on Capitol Hill will be increasing the number of jobs in New Jersey.
His opponent, the Republican attorney Seth Grossman, did not immediately concede the race as results poured in early Wednesday, though Van Drew locked in 52% of the vote.

All seven of the scientists endorsed by 314 Action who were up for reelection won their races. So did seven other incumbent scientists.

All seven of the scientists endorsed by 314 Action who were up for reelection won their races. So did seven other incumbent scientists.
Rep. Ami Bera has represented California's 7th District since 2013. He's also a physician and a professor of medicine.
 AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
They include:
  • Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, a mechanical engineer.
  • Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, a doctor and medical-school professor who serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
  • Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney of California, who's also on the House committee.
  • Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz of California, an emergency-room doctor.
  • Democratic Rep. Bill Foster of Illinois, a physicist who's also on the House committee.
  • Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko of New York, a mechanical and industrial engineer who serves on the House committee.
  • Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a physicist and Iraq War veteran.
  • Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider of Illinois, an industrial engineer.
  • Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas of California, a computer scientist.
  • Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California, a computer scientist.
  • Republican Rep. Chris Collins of New York, a mechanical engineer.
  • Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, a farmer and veterinarian.
  • Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham of Louisiana, a doctor and veterinarian who's also on the House committee.
  • Republican Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida, a veterinarian.

SEE ALSO: There are 21 scientists running for Congress — here's what these engineers, physicians, and computer programmers want to do in DC