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Entries in public health (2)

Wednesday
Oct282009

One Foot In, One Foot Out

*Most of us entered public health for a mixture of reasons: the urgency to alleviate the suffering in the world combined with an intellectual concern for the scientific problems of infectious and chronic disease, poverty and inequality, and the organization of health service. We are professionals. But unlike other professionals we cannot maintain a detached neutrality...*We are also workers. We are hired to create and apply knowledge within the constraints set by our employers. But we are a special kind of worker in that our labor is not completely alienated from us: we are really concerned with the product of our labor, with what it does in the world, unlike the employees in an ammunitions factory who do not seek out that job for the joy of helping to kill people...We are activists, critical of the way society is run and we work to change policies in many areas of life. But our activism is not limited to the correction of today's abuses. We also stand back from the immediate to theorize, analyze, contemplate, ask how our present struggles contribute to or detract from the long haul.

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Saturday
Oct242009

Review of The Society and Population Health Reader. Vol. I. Income Inequality and Health.

Review of The Society and Population Health Reader. Vol. I. Income Inequality and Health. Kawachi, Ichiro, Bruce Kennedy and Richard Wilkinson, editors. The New Press, New York.

One of the more surprising finds of modern archeology is that in the transition from gatherer/hunter societies to agriculture, health deteriorated. Skeletal remains show smaller stature, indicators of tuberculosis, horizontal lines on teeth that indicate arrested growth, periodontal disease and other suggestions that "progress" isn't always good for people. The adoption of agriculture brought with it the possibilities of permanent and elaborate homes, increased food production, and long term storage of food and water. People were now productive enough to be exploitable. The transition brought with it hierarchy and then classes, to the detriment of health.

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