Maternal and Child Health
Section Newsletter
Spring 2008


Over the past year, as political candidates have waged an ongoing discussion of the perceived health needs of the American public, the reality of the situation for mothers and young children is that the current presidential administration is bleak, and the future is no more reassuring.  We in the MCH community are aware of the critical nature of these problems, and expect to use this presidential election to raise awareness and focus public and political concern on the needs of American mothers and children.  The MCH Section is developing an agenda of concerns, and a proposed set of interventions to present to the new President and Congress. The failure of the SCHIP funding efforts is central, but not limiting to this new agenda.  Passage of the original bill would have helped with the process, but would not have fully addressed all the concerns facing this target population. This agenda-setting discussion is ongoing now, and will be part of the MCH program at the Annual Meeting in San Diego.    


There have been several activities and events during the past year that have contributed to this development.  This winter, a group of MCH agencies met in Tampa at the Chiles Center to discuss an agenda for change.  Gillian Silver reported on this meeting in the last edition of the MCH Section newsletter.  This meeting clarified the diversity of needs MCH stakeholders hold as essential.  The group prepared questions to be put to the two presidential candidates in the upcoming campaign, and also discussed the need for a White House level conference on the status of  MCH programs and policies.


Recently, the Commonwealth Fund published another omnibus report on the performance of the child health system.  This document presents graphic data on each state’s system, and shows wide variations among states in what is available and provided for children in each jurisdiction.  The need to develop a national standard is evident in the lengthy discussion of this research.


Debbie Klein Walker, past president of APHA and past chair of the MCH Section, has taken up this challenge and has been working on a symposium for the Annual Meeting to address this issue.  A two-hour session is planned for Monday afternoon as a “kick-off” to the development of such an agenda.  The session will be a second in a series of programs established to involve MCH advocates from each of the state affiliates. 


During the last year, Holly Grason and Jane Pearson have been involved with the student fellows reviewing and rewriting the body of Child Health Policies for APHA. (These policies are available on the MCH Web site for review.)  These policies reach back into the mid-twentieth century.  While many things have changed, the extent and urgency of these problems remain.


The Maternal and Child Health Section has an important role to play in setting this agenda in the new century.  It is time for each member to take the time to look at the big picture and see how it needs to be changed and prioritized.  While each individual’s view is relevant to establishing these guideposts for care of mothers and their children, it is our individual and collective action which will assure improved health care for this target population.


Barbara Levin

Chair, MCH Section


The next newsletter will be for the Annual Meeting, so make sure your Committee news is in there, and anything else related to the Annual Meeting.  Thanks!


Clare Feinson, MCH Newsletter Editor


Greetings from the Improving Pregnancy Outcomes (IPO) Committee!


Come join us at the APHA 136th Annual Meeting in San Diego, Oct. 25-29, 2008, which focuses on "Public Health Without Borders."


Last year in Washington, D.C., our committee actively contributed to a successful Annual Meeting. As you will see below, the Improving Pregnancy Outcomes Committee will again play a highly visible role at this year’s meeting.  Come join our dynamic committee, which is committed to improving the health of mothers and babies. We welcome new members.


Exciting News: We are happy to announce that our co-chair, Janine Lewis, is the proud mother of a beautiful baby girl.  Congratulations to Janine!


  1. Improving Pregnancy Outcomes Committee Business Meeting:

At this yearly planning meeting, we will set our priorities and goals for the coming year and plan sessions for 2009.  You do not have to be a member of the IPO Committee to attend this meeting. You are welcome to come and check out the activities of our committee. Of course, if you wish to join our committee, as always, new members are welcome! (Please refer to the program for exact time and location).

  1. IPO Podium and Poster Sessions, (San Diego, 2008)

With a record-breaking number of abstract submissions, the IPO Committee is the official planner of more sessions then ever!  We have four podium sessions and two poster sessions.  We are proud to announce that our IPO program planning committee has expanded.  We welcomed our two newest members who did a great job in helping to plan this year’s program: Kee Chan and Edmond Shenassa




Session 1: Improving pregnancy outcomes using a life course perspective: Stepping outside traditional prenatal care borders


Session 2: Improving pregnancy outcomes by moving beyond biomedical borders: Examining stress in pregnancy


Session 3:  Improving perinatal outcomes across racial/ethnic borders: Examining persistent disparities


Session 4: Improving perinatal outcomes: Spanning topical borders



Improving pregnancy outcomes Poster Session

1: Public Health Without Borders

Improving pregnancy outcomes Poster Session

2: Public Health Without Borders



The Improving Pregnancy Outcomes Committee welcomes your participation and input.  If you would like more information about our work or would like to become a member, please e-mail one of the committee co-chairs. 


With Warmest Regards from your co-chairs,


Judith Katzburg 

Tyan Parker-Dominguez

Janine Lewis



This summer, APHA is mobilizing members to educate legislators and candidates running for office about the need to include public health in the health reform debate and to support public health prevention measures.  The MCH Section has a keen interest in making sure health reform includes a full range of reproductive health services. We also want to increase Congressional support for pregnancy and STD prevention measures. So, it's time to get active!


During the months of July and August, APHA is asking us to schedule meetings with our legislators in their district offices, participate in town hall meetings hosted by these legislators, and seek opportunities to ask questions of candidates running for office. If you are willing to meet with your Congressional representative during the summer, call right away to schedule an appointment, because their schedules fill up fast.


Don't know how to do this? Don't know when your representative will be having town hall meetings? Check in regularly at the APHA Action Campaign Web site for news and updates.


Dr. Hani Atrash, a long-time, active member of the MCH Section, has been appointed director of the Division of Blood Disorders (DBD) in the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), of the CDC, effective June 2008.  Over the last few years the DBD, under the leadership of Dr. Roshni Kulkari, has expanded its vision and has continued to take leadership roles in blood disorders and public health.  Although Dr. Kulkarni has decided to return to her professorship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Michigan State University, she will continue to spend much of her time as a Senior Medical Advisor to the DBD.  Dr. Atrash's expertise in program development and in execution of large public health programs will combine with the strengths of DBD scientists and staff to enhance and expand the division's excellent programs in blood disorders, and to increase collaboration with other divisions at CDC, with partners at state and local health departments, and with private organizations.  

Hani Atrash, MD, MPH, received his MD from American University in Beirut (AUB), and his MPH from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.  He came to the CDC in 1979 when he was recruited to the Epidemic Intelligence Service in the Family Planning Evaluation Division and was assigned to the Tennessee Department of Health during his first year. Between 1981 and 1984, Dr. Atrash served as assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the AUB and was assigned to the Bahrain Ministry of Health as public health consultant and manager of the Office of Professional Standards and Systems Analysis. In 1983-84, he also served as epidemiologist for the country of Bahrain. In 1985, he returned to the CDC and joined the Division of Reproductive Health (DRH) in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. While at DRH, Dr. Atrash served as visiting scientist (1985-87), chief of the Pregnancy Morbidity and Mortality Section (1987-89), and chief of the Pregnancy and Infant Health Branch (1989 to 2001). During his tenure with the DRH, Dr. Atrash developed several nationally recognized programs in maternal and child health. He led the CDC activities on Safe Motherhood, working closely with state and local health departments, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the World Health Organization and its regional offices and their member countries.

Dr. Atrash strengthened and expanded CDC activities in Maternal and Child Health epidemiology, preterm delivery, and maternal and infant health surveillance and research; he established the CDC pregnancy mortality surveillance system, the CDC/ACOG Maternal Mortality Study Group, the Annual Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Conference, and the national Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Awards. He worked closely with state and local health departments, national public and private organizations, and with federal agencies to provide technical assistance and to develop and support training programs for MCH workers at the state and local levels. Dr. Atrash serves as Temporary Advisor to the World Health Organization and consults regularly on public health and epidemiology issues around the world. He holds an academic appointment as Clinical Associate Professor at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health with the Department of International Health, Department of Epidemiology, and with the Women’s and Children’s Center. In 2001, Dr. Atrash joined the new National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities as associate director for program development where he oversees activities related to global health, work force development, women’s health, relationships with national organizations and state and local health departments, and minority health. During the last four years, Dr. Atrash spearheaded the new CDC program on Preconception Care.

Dr. Atrash is also an accomplished scientist and prolific writer, and has authored over 150 scientific publications and has served as an editor or associate editor of numerous scientific collections.  He serves on a variety of key national advisory committees. Dr. Atrash has received numerous honors and awards within CDC and at the national level for his work in improving the health of mothers and children.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Atrash on his new position.  


The Mothers' Milk Bank of New England (MMBNE) recently announced the first phase of its opening, a mothers' milk dispensary. In mid June, MMBNE began receiving milk from the Mothers' Milk Bank of Ohio and will dispense it, by prescription, to hospitals and families in New England. We hope to find space and raise funds necessary to open a full milk bank lab and office over the next year.  An opening reception was held on Tuesday, June 17, at MMBNE, 225 Nevada Street, Newtonville, Ma.  For more information about MMBNE, visit our Web site at


Determining which immunizations are needed for children can be challenging even for very experienced and educated health care workers. However, when instruction and exposure to immunization protocols are limited, deciding on the correct vaccines can be challenging. With these concerns in mind, Pam Strohfus, RN, and Teresa Phillips, RN, developed the “Shot Line.” This free service provides immediate telephone consultation by a registered nurse.  The program also publishes a newsletter for Idaho health care workers on immunization delivery. The main goal of the program is to provide accurate and timely immunization information to health care workers.


Ongoing research indicates that the most frequent callers to the Shot Line are medical assistants, who often need additional instruction as well. The Shot Line also offers enhanced education in providing correct vaccines, which has improved medical care for thousands of Idaho children. Plans to offer similar programs in other states are being formulated with the assistance of Sandra Nadelson, RN. For more information about the Shot Line, visit our Web site at or call (208) 321-BABY (2229).


The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Maternal and Child Health Program will hold its pioneering MCH Leadership Retreat called Leadership, Legacy, and Community:  A Retreat to Advance Maternal and Child Health Scholarship and Practice in Chicago on July 16-18, 2008. 


This is a new, professional development retreat for interdisciplinary, intergenerational MCH academic and practice professionals and has been designed by an interdisciplinary, intergenerational, national planning committee.  It will provide many opportunities for MCH professionals to build and explore their leadership skills, develop community, examine their individual and collective legacy in MCH, and discuss and make recommendations about the many challenges to evidence-based practice we face in MCH.  Participants who are interested in exploring their career, legacy and professional goals and vision for the future in more depth are encouraged to spend some of their free time with Professional Coach Hanna Cooper, MPH, CPCC, who will be part of this year’s retreat.  Professional coaching is a relatively new field in which trained professionals work with individuals to explore their purpose and passion in life.


The retreat will include many excellent speakers and facilitators.  These individuals include:


·         Mario Drummonds, executive director of the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership.

·         Donna Petersen, dean, College of Public Health, University of South Florida.

·         Carol Woltring, executive director of the Center for Health Leadership and Practice (A Center of the Public Health Institute).

·         Dick Aronson, director of the Center for Humane Worlds for Child and Youth Health.

·         Sheri Johnson, state health officer of the Department of Health and Family Services in Milwaukee.

·         Milt Kotelchuck, chairman of the MCH Program at Boston University.

·         Deborah Allen, professor, MCH Program at Boston University.

·         Cheri Pies, director of Family and Maternal and Child Health Programs in Martinez, Calif.

·         Arden Handler, director of the MCH Program at the UIC School of Public Health.

·          Russ Kirby, professor at the University of South Florida.

·         Peg Dublin, Access Community Health.

·         Magda Peck, founder of CityMatCH. 


For more information and to register online please visit or contact Kris Risley, DrPH, at (312) 996-2875 or 


Mental illness is a serious issue that affects millions of people. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 26.2 percent, or one in four Americans over the age of 18, suffer from some sort of mental disorder. This means that approximately 60 million people in the United States have a mental illness, making mental illness the leading cause of disability in America from ages 15 to 44.  Since maternal mental health has significant effects on the health of children, mental health care for women during pregnancy and postpartum periods is vital to the long-term health of the mother and new child.


Women In Government, a national, bipartisan, nonprofit organization representing women state legislators, has issued policy recommendations on the issue of mental health, including access to and funding for mental health services, education to reduce stigma, and the value of mental health parity.  The Mental Health Task Force aims to promote recovery and resiliency through access to and the integration of primary and mental health care services, eliminating stigma and enhancing the quality of life for persons with mental illness across their lifespan. The Task Force supports an innovative approach by educating policy-makers, the public, and other stakeholders, implementing evidence-based and early intervention and prevention strategies, enabling effective state policies and advocating for sound federal policies.


To read the recommendations of the Mental Health Task Force, please visit



The Family Mental Health Institute (FMHI) in Washington, D.C. is working on a number of interesting projects to further our mission to make Universal Depression Screening and Treatment a standard of care throughout the United States. As health care is a state issue, each state will have to develop and implement its own plan. So far, the state of New Jersey has passed legislation for mandatory universal depression screening in all primary care practices as well as training. They have budgeted $13 million/year to carry out the program.  FMHI, under the leadership of Dr. Barbara Hatcher, director of Learning and Global Education for APHA, is inaugurating a campaign to add 10 new states to the list by 2010. 


FMHI has a rough draft of a training manual that can be used by the full spectrum of health care workers who come into contact in MCH settings. We are seeking a national sponsor, such as a diaper or baby food company, to publish and distribute it at no cost to MCH facilities that need it.  Also, the FMHI Web site,, has undergone a major update. It includes an interactive version of the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS) without the actual scoring, which can be used to educate women and to encourage them to seek professional help.


Eastern Shore:  FMHI has also collaborated with the Mental Health Association of the Maryland Eastern Shore (MHAMDES), under the leadership of their executive director, Tina Mills, to develop an area-wide universal depression screening and treatment program. MHAMDES formed a coalition of over 13 different organizations, including two major health care systems, three community colleges, all local hospitals and birthing centers, and many individual practitioners. FMHI provided multiple presentations in the region, including Grand Rounds at the hospitals in the three regions of the Eastern Shore, presented by Dr. Ralph Wittenberg, medical director of FMHI, and presentations about the need for screening to all three area hospitals, the public, and classes for nurses and social workers by Dr. Wittenberg and FMHI Past President Cheryl Hall, with CEUs available under the sponsorship of Chesapeake College and the Psychology Club of Washington College. Dr. Wittenberg has also attended the meetings of the Perinatal Psychiatric Coalition. The state of Maryland has funds available to support mental health projects in rural areas, and since the Eastern Shore of Maryland is a rural area, MHAMDES and FMHI are going to partner in applying for those funds.


Healthy Start in Washington, D.C.:  FMHI had a federal grant for four years through the Healthy Start Program of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), under the aegis of the Division of Maternal and Child Health. The purpose of the HRSA grant was to establish the feasibility of Universal Depression Screening. FMHI has shown that this can take place in an assortment of settings, using a variety of personnel. In addition, when screening takes place it creates the impetus to develop treatment programs.


From the outset, FMHI worked with Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Health in Wards 1, 2, and 4 in Washington, D.C., including the Healthy Start Initiative and Healthy Families Program. During the period of the grant, Mary’s Center began collaborating with other health centers, organizations, and medical services, such as the Children’s Hospital National Medical Center Outpatient Department, Providence Hospital, and the Unity Health Care Upper Cardozo Center in Columbia Heights, an under-served area of D.C. This expanded the reach of Mary’s Center from about 200 mostly Latina patients to several thousand under-served inner city patients. They instituted universal depression screening using both Healthy Start case managers and Healthy Families home visitors. They also developed a mental health program to care for these patients, as there were no appropriate treatment facilities available in the city.


Screening now standard of care in the Navy:  The Universal Primary Care Perinatal Depression Screening program, started in 2001 in conjunction with the National Naval Medical Center, has been officially made the standard of care throughout the entire U.S. Navy. The protocol uses the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale twice during pregnancy as part of OB prenatal care, and four times postpartum. Three of the postpartum visits are part of well baby clinic follow ups on the Pediatric Service and one is at the six week OB postpartum visit. Patients who score 12 or higher are then reported to the primary care physician and referral is made to either the Mental Health Activity (comprised of psychiatrists and psychologists), or the Department of Social Work. Initially case management was done by nurse practitioners, but is now done by corpsmen.  It is an instruction (i.e., an order) that is part of 2007 military spending act. Lt. Commander Marlene Sanchez says that that the other service branches are being urged to develop the same standard of care. The architect of this plan, Dianne Bloom, an OB nurse practitioner and director of the Prenatal Assessment Clinic, says that the program is continuing, but is under stress as a result of increased need for casualty care and deployment of hospital staff to the Hospital Ship, Comfort.


With the recent disasters in Myanmar and China, and numerous news and media portrayals of babies born in shelters (Myanmar, CNN International, May 13, 2008) to hungry and displaced mothers, we must reflect on the ongoing issue of infant feeding in a disaster situation. International maternal and child health advocates, lactation professionals and those who work closely with the relief/aid community have seen the carnage that results from indiscriminate distribution of infant formula, as well as the natural consequences of not initiating breastfeeding and/or continued breastfeeding. Opportunities to bring awareness to the importance of breastfeeding exist through preparedness programs, public health messages, maternal and child health care programs and a one-week international celebration each year.


The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) initiates the international awareness campaign each year with a global theme for what is known as World Breastfeeding Week. Previous themes have included:


2007: Breastfeeding in the 1st Hour – Save ONE Million


2006: Code Watch (WHO Code): 25 Years of Protecting

         Breastfeeding; and

2003: Breastfeeding in a Globalized World for Peace and



Although an Olympic theme has already been chosen for World Breastfeeding Week 2008, as maternal and child health leaders we should urge WABA to consider having a theme on breastfeeding in emergencies for 2009.  We must encourage other programs to keep this issue at the forefront -- with the threat of a future pandemic, and the always present risk of hurricanes and other natural disasters, the topic will always be timely.  This is in keeping with APHA policy 200714, Nov. 6, 2007, entitled:  A Call to Action on Breastfeeding: A Fundamental Public Health Issue. 


The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the international organization which sets the theme for WBW each year, can be reached at:  PO Box 1200, 10850  Penang, Malaysia, Telephone: 604-6584816, Fax:  604-6572655. E-mail: OR, and visit their Web site to learn more at


The World Health Organization has released its first ever report highlighting children's special susceptibility to harmful chemical exposures at different periods of their growth.  This new volume of  is in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) within the International Programme on Chemical Safety.


Published as part of the WHO Environmental Health Criteria series, Principles for Evaluating Health Risks in Children Associated with Exposure to Chemicals, is the most comprehensive work yet undertaken on the scientific principles to be considered in assessing health risks in children. It highlights the fact that in children, the stage in their development when exposure occurs may be just as important as the magnitude of the exposure.  Children have different susceptibilities during different life stages, due to their dynamic growth and developmental processes.  Emerging evidence suggests that an increased risk of certain diseases in adults such as cancer and heart disease can result in part from exposures to certain environmental chemicals during childhood.


Additionally, those exposed in childhood not only suffer from degraded, but also poor environments. Neglected and malnourished children suffer the most. One in five children in the poorest parts of the world will not live longer than their fifth birthday, mainly because of environment-related diseases.  The central focus of this study is on periods of childhood, including developing embryo, fetus, infant, and adolescent, as well as on the need to have a good understanding of the interactions between exposure, biological susceptibility, socio-economic status, and nutritional factors at each stage of a child's development.


The report has been subjected to the most intense expert scrutiny as 24 scientific experts, representing 18 countries, formed an advisory group to provide insight, expertise, and guidance, so as to ensure scientific accuracy and objectivity.  Once the text was finalized, it was sent to more than 100 contact points throughout the world for review and comment, and also made available on WHO's International Programme of Chemical Safety (IPCS) Web site for external review and comment for a period of two months.


For the full text of the report, visit their Web site.


  • A special thank you to those who assisted with the APHA Policy Archiving Review:  Lianne Estefan, Cheryl Vamos, Gonzalo Bacigalupe and Jonathan Kotch.


  • Honors for New Section Chair:  Incoming MCH Chair JoAnne Fischer is one of the first recipients of the new Alumnae/i Achievement Awards given by the Bryn Mawr College School of Social Work.  In addition, JoAnne has been awarded a scholarship to attend Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management at the Harvard Business School this summer.  The scholarship comes from the Social Enterprise Initiative of the Harvard Business School Club of Philadelphia.  JoAnne has been the executive director of the Maternity Care Coalition since 1989, and has overseen the agency's growth from a neighborhood project to a statewide organization, from a staff of 3 to a staff of 70, and from a budget of $116,000 to more than $4.5 million. 

  • Two new jobs for one busy member:  Section member Kimberly Arcoleo, PhD, MPH, has been named the associate director of the new Center for Health Care Innovation and Clinical Trials (CHI&CT) at Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Care Innovation. The mission of the CHI&CT is to set the standard for collaboration, outreach, research, and educational (CORE) activities to support and promote clinical research that advances health care through the creation of evidence-based innovative products, processes, and educational programs. The Center has launched a Graduate Certificate program in Clinical Research Management (CRM), the only fully online, graduate level, inter-disciplinary CRM program in the Western states.  CHI&CT will also launch a 33 credit hour online Master of Science in Clinical Research Management degree program in January 2009.  For more information, visit their Web site.  Kim has also been selected as one of five faculty affiliates in the Arizona State University Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Consortium's new Center of Excellence in Health Disparities Research.  Her research focus will be on eliminating disparities in asthma health outcomes among Latino children, particularly Mexican, Mexican-American and Puerto Rican children.  Congratulations to Kim on her new appointments.                


  • Small world:  Former Section Chair Jonathan Kotch was visiting the School of Public Health in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Monday, May 19, where he had gone to seek collaboration on a lead poisoning surveillance project in a rural commune where lead smelting is a home industry.  Between meetings, he briefly ran into Section member Lois McCloskey!  No word on what Lois was doing in Hanoi.  By the way, this was the day after Jonathan’s first grandson was born back home in Durham, N.C. -- best wishes from all, Jonathan!       



  • Feild Chairs Prevention for AAP:  Section member Dr. Charles Feild, professor of pediatrics and public health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, is the American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Community Pediatrics, chair of the Prevention and Public Health SIG, and represents the SIG on the Executive Committee of the Council.

  • New Job for Cox:  Section member Suzanne Cox, MPH, has taken a new job as the assistant director of research and development for the Confidential Enquiry Into Maternal and Child Health, the national organization in the United Kingdom that collects data on maternal, perinatal and child deaths.

  • Lights! Camera! Ruth Lubic!:  Section member Ruth Watson Lubic and her Family Health and Birth Center in Washington, D.C., were featured in the cover story in the May 5 edition of Nursing Spectrum.  In addition, an interview the same day with Ruth, new mom Timeka Murphy, and 9-month-old Cole Murphy, is available on YouTube.  The video and a narrative can also be accessed on the Kellogg Foundation Web site.

  • Parenting advice online:  Section member Marilyn Heins has a new Web site,, which provides parenting advice for today’s busy families.  Subscribers receive a free monthly newsletter, and Dr. Heins will also answer individual parenting questions from readers at no charges.  Good parenting is essential to a child's well-being, and parents today need all the help they can get.  Feedback from professionals is always welcome -- contact Marilyn at

  • New Degree:  Section member Mirine Dye of Islamorada, Fla., received her MPH from Florida International University in Miami, and was inducted into the National Public Health Honorary Society, Delta Omega.  Mirine works as the Florida Keys community liaison with the Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition, and serves on the Florida team for the APHA MCH Leadership Institute 07-08, for which her project is MCH Preparedness.  Congratulations, Mirine!

  • David and Collins Featured in “Unnatural Causes”:  For the past 20 years, Section member Richard David and his colleague, Jimmy Collins, have been researching the causes of infant mortality, and their work was featured in “When the Bough Breaks,” part of the series “Unnatural Causes:  Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” The premise of the series is that social structures -- in particular, different forms of inequality -- are the determining factor in most major illnesses. Social inequality in life, not just in access to medical care, causes health disparities.  The series, produced by highly respected filmmaker California Newsreel, was shown nationwide on PBS stations earlier this spring.