Umair Shah’s story isn’t an uncommon one in public health. Starting out in medicine, with a career as an emergency department doctor, he said it quickly became clear that most of what impacts our health happens outside the hospital and in the community.
To get a clearer sense of just how bad our drug overdose problem has gotten, look no further than this year’s County Health Rankings. The annual report found that after years of declining premature deaths, that rate is on the rise and due primarily to overdose deaths. It means we could be seeing the first generation of American kids with shorter life expectancies than their parents.
A couple months ago, we reported on a study that found raising the minimum wage to $15 could have prevented thousands of premature deaths in New York City alone. Now comes more science on the life-saving benefits of higher wages — this one found that just a modest increase in the minimum wage could have saved the lives of hundreds of babies. It’s yet another reminder that the movement for a living wage is also a movement toward a healthier nation for all.
Poverty and poor health often go hand-in-hand. However, the effects of poverty may be especially profound for children, who are moving through critical developmental and educational phases in their young lives. Knowing that this social determinant of health can lead to a lifelong struggle with poor health and disease, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now calling on pediatricians to screen their young patients for poverty.
In the U.S., the gap in life expectancy by income is getting wider. To be even clearer: Life expectancy for people with higher incomes has gone up over time, while life expectancy for people earning lower incomes has actually declined.
As public health practitioners increasingly look upstream to identify the determinants that put people on a trajectory toward lifelong health and wellbeing, early childhood is often tapped as a pivotal intervention point. Now, a new tool is available that practitioners can use to measure neighborhood-level opportunity indicators that are fundamentally linked to children’s health.
Yesterday, the nation celebrated its workers. However, new research finds that most workers face fewer and fewer reasons to rejoice.
Thomas Piketty’s prediction that wealth inequality will grow in the future has been everywhere in the media. Piketty’s methods would help public health efforts to reduce health inequality.
This year’s County Health Rankings once again illustrate why geography and good health go hand-in-hand. They’re also a poignant reminder that there may be no better way to improve health for all than by focusing on the social determinants of health.