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O.T.A. Report Backs Use Of School-Based Clinics

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The United States is not doing all it can to protect the health of its children, the Office of Technology Assessment concludes in a new report.

Among a number of recommendations aimed at improving that performance, the report calls for the establishment of more school-based clinics to provide health care and help prevent adolescent pregnancies.

While evaluation has not been extensive, the report says, "there is accumulating tentative evidence that comprehensive school-based clinics that offer contraceptive services, as well as other kinds of health care, can influence teen-age pregnancy rates and avoid unwanted births."

The children of teen-agers, it notes, are at high risk for health problems.

Two ota analysts, Roger Herdman and Judith L. Wagner, outlined the conclusions at a Congressional hearing last week.

They noted that the U.S. ranks 17th among industrialized nations in infant-mortality rates.

In addition, they told the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, thousands of American children die each year from abuse and preventable accidents and a "substantial number" of young children have not received recommended immunizations.

"Furthermore, children who live in poverty bear more than their share of the burdens of illness and death," they said.

In 1986, 14 percent to 19 percent of children under age 13 had no health-insurance coverage, and 61 percent of the uninsured children were from poor families, the study found.

The chief recommendation of the ota--a nonpartisan research arm of the Congress--is to improve the access of poor women and children to health care.

This can be done, it says, by expanding Medicaid eligibility, increasing doctor's fees under the program, and raising funding for other federal health subsidies, such as maternal- and child-health-services block grants.

Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., has received a $478,639 contract from the Education Department to operate a resource and evaluation center on Indian education.

The center is one of five mandated by the Indian Education Act to provide technical assistance to school districts with concentrated populations of Indian children. The Gonzaga University center will serve Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Two optional years are included in the agreement.

The National Academy of Sciences has been awarded a $300,000 contract to study school-volunteer programs and their effects on the classroom.

The academy's Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences will conduct the study and is expected to report its findings by the end of the year.

The project was authorized by the 1986 Higher Education Act. Funding was provided through the Secretary of Education's discretionary fund.

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