Public Health Newswire interviewed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Acting Director Anne Schuchat, MD, on the state of public health and the agency’s plans for 2018.
What do you anticipate being the biggest public health challenges for our country in 2018?
We know that infectious disease threats, antimicrobial resistance, global health security and opioids will continue to be critical public health issues. But regardless of the nature of the threat, CDC remains committed to working 24/7 to keep America safe, healthy and secure. We will continue to conduct critical science and provide health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and respond quickly when they happen.
Read the full Q&A with Schuchat on Public Health Newswire.
The Nation's Health spoke with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, about what he plans to accomplish. Photo courtesy EZ Event Photography.
How do you plan to uphold your promise to put science before politics as surgeon general?
As surgeon general of the United States, I think what is important is that we engage the right partners and show them how embracing health and embracing our priorities will lead to them being more prosperous, will lead to them being safer and more secure, will lead to them being able to provide for themselves and their families. And if we do that, then it’s not really putting science before politics, it’s understanding that science needs to be part of the complicated multi-variant policy equation, but that it’s one of several components. If we’re going to expect people to listen to and embrace the science, then we have to listen to and embrace their priorities.
Read the full Q&A with Adams in The Nation's Health.
In 2017, police shot and killed almost 1,000 people in the U.S., according to a tracking project from The Washington Post. Julia Haskins, reporter for The Nation’s Health newspaper, interviews Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA, about the problem of police violence in the U.S., and how it affects the health of the public.
How is police violence a public health issue?
Violence, in all of its forms, is a public health issue because it impacts both physical health and mental health. It's a significant problem, because violence can lead to injury and even death and undermines both the sense of community well-being and the sense of personal well-being. And we know that like other violence, police violence is preventable.
Read the full Q&A with Benjamin in The Nation's Health.
During the 2017 APHA Annual Meeting, Howard Frumkin, MD, DrPH, MPH, professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health, discussed the “Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change 2017” report, of which he is a co-author. APHA served as co-publisher of the “Lancet Countdown 2017 Report: U.S. Briefing.” Frumkin shared highlights of the report, and how public health advocates can use it today.
The countdown outlines policy-level steps that can be taken to fight climate change. Why start there?
Well, it’s really important to start at two different levels simultaneously. One is policy. At the federal and state levels, we need to do things like shift our primary energy sources, shift our transportation system and change the incentives in our food system so that all those systems can contribute less to climate change.
But it’s also important to start at the very personal and community levels. We need to shift our preferences in eating toward less meat-heavy diets. We need to shift our preferences in transportation away from gas-guzzling, single-occupancy vehicles to walking, biking and transit. We need to use less energy, insulate our houses better, use fewer resources, reuse and recycle more. All of those traditional environmental behaviors and attitudes are very important at the individual and community level, but they need to be accompanied, of course, by policy changes.
And then, of course, in the public health sector, where we are responsible for driving a lot of adaptation, protecting the public from the impacts of climate change, we need to step up and do even more than we’re doing, protecting people from disasters like floods and fires and droughts, protecting people from the expansion of infectious diseases, protecting people from expanding allergic illnesses, protecting people from respiratory hazards due to worsening air pollution.
Read the full Q&A with Frumkin in The Nation's Health. And learn more about the Lancet Countdown Report and climate change and health.
Since stepping down as CDC director, APHA member Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, has been busy with a new global public health initiative, Resolve to Save Lives. The purpose of the initiative is twofold: Resolve to Save 100 Million Lives aims to reduce cardiovascular disease, while Resolve to Prevent Epidemics will target infectious disease epidemics. Over the course of the five-year program — funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — Resolve to Save Lives will implement best practices in low- and middle-income countries to curb preventable deaths. The Nation’s Health spoke with Frieden, an APHA member, about what to expect.
How will Resolve engage with local public health advocates and stakeholders to pursue improved health outcomes?
Most countries have the determination and the will to improve the health of their citizens, but may need help turning that determination into action. We’re not going to tell countries what to do, rather, we’ll help countries reach the goals they’ve already set for improving heart health or epidemic preparedness. Engagement with local public health leaders is critical to our success and the health of their country.
Read the full Q&A with Frieden in The Nation's Health. And learn more about Resolve to Save Lives.
Now more than ever, people need tools and resources to adapt to a changing climate, according to Mollie Marti, PhD, JD, president and CEO of the National Resilience Institute. Marti, an APHA member, spoke to The Nation’s Health about how climate change affects health, and what people can do to resist such harm.
What should be the public health community’s role on this issue?
I think the role on public health, and psychologists and people who are focused both on building awareness and providing education, must be on building that personal and psychosocial resilience.
Because what’s happening as we don’t have those capacities is there’s a higher level of fear. And there’s fear-based human reaction to these climate impacts, and so that’s going to decrease our ability to think clearly, it’s going to decrease our ability to work collaboratively. And all of that is going to decrease our ability to look at it with a broader perspective and see what is needed. How do we cut emissions, how do we prepare for climate impacts? And humans, when they’re in a fear response, or reaction, aren’t able to be thinking clearly and creatively and innovatively and collaboratively.
If we don’t really focus on building up this resilience base, building up this capacity, then it’s going to be a negative spiral, and that spiral can start moving more and more quickly.
Read the full Q&A with Marti in The Nation's Health. And learn more about the Year of Climate Change and Health.