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.
The Nation’s Health spoke to David Kitchen, PhD, associate professor of continuing studies at the University of Richmond and author of "Global Climate Change: Turning Knowledge Into Action," about what extreme weather events mean for environmental and public health, and how people will be forced to adapt to an increase in such crises.
What role do scientists have in communicating the effects of climate change and making the connection between climate change and extreme weather events?
Ten years ago, I’d have said the scientists just need to present the evidence and the logical community would come to the conclusion they needed to do something. Scientists should be informing policy makers and educating the public. We should be trying to communicate about the issues of climate change.
Read the full Q&A with Kitchen in The Nation's Health. And learn more about the Year of Climate Change and Health.
Debra Houry, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, spoke with The Nation's Health about the ways the center is working to protect Americans from injuries and violence and how health workers can play a role.
Why do Americans need to be concerned about injury and violence prevention?
Injuries are a leading cause of death in this country. In the first half of life, more Americans die from injuries and violence — such as motor vehicle crashes, falls or homicides — than from any other cause, including HIV, cancer or the flu. Injuries and violence affect everyone, regardless of age, race or economic status. And, in America, deaths from suicide, opioid overdose and car crashes have been going up in recent years. In 2015 alone, injuries and violence led to 214,000 deaths, 2.8 million people hospitalized and 27.6 million emergency room visits.
The economic costs are also staggeringly high. The total lifetime medical and work loss costs of injuries and violence in the U.S. was $671 billion in 2013.
Read the full Q&A with Houry in The Nation's Health.
Patricia Flatley Brennan
As director of the National Library of Medicine, Patricia Flatley Breenan, oversees the largest biomedical library in the world, with data available to both professional and lay audiences. She spoke with The Nation’s Health about the value of NLM as it enters its third century of service to the public.
Why is the National Library of Medicine so important to public health?
I think probably the most important thing is that we have a strong commitment to public health research information data. Tox Town is a repository of information about toxic exposure. We also have a resource called TOXNET, a suite of databases that has information on over 400,000 different chemicals. And we have a website for health service research and public health information programs. And this is research informally of the National Information Center for Health Services Research. NICHSR provides outside links to the health services research and public health partnerships that make it possible for a local public health community to find quick information about things such as Indian health or perhaps to provide help with training resources about toxicology. We view our partnership in public health…as being one of our critical target areas.
Read the full Q&A with Brennan in The Nation's Health.
More than 20 million Americans may have lab tests showing kidney disease, and rates are growing among adults. Kidney damage can cause waste to build up in the body, and is linked to heart disease and other health problems. In advance of March’s observance of National Kidney Month, The Nation’s Health spoke with Griffin Rodgers, MD, MACP, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about kidney disease risks and steps for prevention.
Who is at greatest risk for kidney disease and why?
People at greatest risk for chronic kidney disease, or CKD, are people who have diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or a family history of kidney failure. Diabetes and hypertension, at least in this country, are the leading causes of kidney damage. Nearly 1 in 4 people with diabetes has CKD, while about 1 in 5 with hypertension has CKD.
Research also shows that there’s a correlation between heart disease and kidney disease. People who have cardiovascular disease are at higher risk for developing kidney disease. Conversely, people with kidney disease are at a high risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
Read the full Q&A with Rodgers in The Nation's Health.
As he prepares to leave office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden shared with us his hopes for the future of public health and the challenges that still lie ahead.
What’s the outlook for public health funding given a new administration and Congress? In particular, pledges to repeal the Affordable Care Act and eliminate the Public Health and Prevention Fund would deal a blow to CDC’s budget. How do you foresee the agency’s strategy changing while continuing the progress that’s been made thus far?
Protecting American’s health, safety and security will continue to be CDC’s mission, as it has been throughout the agency’s 70 years and a dozen presidential administrations.
Whatever Congress does regarding the Affordable Care Act, public health will be as relevant – or more relevant – today than ever before. The ACA established the Prevention and Public Health Fund to provide expanded and sustained national investments in prevention and public health, to improve health outcomes and to enhance health care quality. The fund supports more than 10 percent of CDC’s total program budget, with most of these funds supporting widely supported programs at the state and local level such as the public health and social services block grant, protecting children and adults through immunization, strengthening capacity to respond to domestic infectious disease threats and preventing childhood lead poisoning.
The threats to our nation’s health are real and come in different forms and in different ways. Public health is a quintessential government function; it is part of our infrastructure and needed to keep Americans safe. And public health is a best buy: investments in public health are repaid many times over. The work CDC and our partners do saves lives and money, protects the American people’s health and is good for the country.
Read the full Q&A with Frieden on the 'State of Public Health 2017' in Public Health Newswire.
Larry Cohen, founder and executive director of Prevention Institute, has been a public health and prevention advocate and pioneer for more than 40 years. In his latest book, “Prevention Diaries: The Practice and Pursuit of Health for All,” he explores the aspects of daily life that influence our health and argues that a prevention approach offers many common-sense solutions that save lives and money, and reduce human suffering.
APHA is a long-time partner of Prevention Institute. As APHA strives toward our strategic goal of creating the healthiest nation, how can a prevention approach lead to new ways of thinking about how to reach this goal?
We know that prevention works. We understand that health matters to everyone, but some communities have been systematically disadvantaged and affected more than others, and it’s time to build that into a system that advances prevention and equity. We understand that our bodies, our minds, and our environments need to be aligned for health. We can’t talk about asthma and ignore housing and traffic; it’s not just about getting individuals to adjust, but about ensuring safe housing and improved air quality. We can’t talk about high utilization and ignore mental health and trauma — and it’s not just about identifying individuals with adverse childhood experience but about transforming adverse community environments into healthier ones that promote resilience. It is time not only to recognize the importance of community well-being, but to fully engage and align with community. This means partnering far beyond health organizations and achieving new strategies. It means ensuring our policies and practices move our norms and environments. APHA plays a critical role in enabling new thinking and solutions to be shared, and their methodology understood. More importantly, APHA is a partner and a leader in promoting policy and practice changes across the country.
Read the full Q&A with Cohen in Public Health Newswire.
Victor Dzau, MD, has had an exciting term since assuming the presidency of the National Academy of Medicine in July 2014. For one thing, the organization was not called NAM when he came on board — its membership voted in 2015 to transform the then-Institute of Medicine into the National Academy of Medicine. Now, the independent NAM is branching even further into what it means to develop meaningful research to be used in health fields. Dzau spoke with The Nation’s Health about the future of the academy and its ongoing work.
What new NAM initiatives are you most excited about?
The one that we are very excited about…is called Vital Directions in Health and Health Care. A year ago, we were well aware that there’s going to be a change in U.S. administration. Our members, our council are saying, what would it look like under new administration? What are things that still haven’t quite been achieved? What are things that we need to think about going forward?
We convened a steering committee of 18 members, which commissioned over 100 experts to write papers, 19 in total, under the three themes: health and well-being, or health and wellness; health care delivery; and science and technology. Under those three themes are specific papers that look at life course management, social determinants of health, precision medicine, payment reform, science and technology for the future.
On Sept. 26, these reports were released by (the Journal of the American Medical Association) as what they call viewpoints. On the same day, we (had) public discussion we call a national conversation of the various Vital Directions. We can have authors and also non-authors to come and sit together and talk about what we believe are the issues that should inform the next U.S. administration and get input from the public. Following all this, we’ll have a synthesis paper that will bring together all these dialogues into one final paper, published in Perspectives and in JAMA. That’s going to happen around December.
We are thinking and hoping that this initiative will inform the next U.S. administration. Therefore, we are beginning to reach out to transition teams and to work with the next administration after the election, and begin to work with them in any fashion we can to help advise them.
Read the full Q&A with Dzau in The Nation's Health.