I live and study public health in Baltimore, a city in which one-third of its children live in poverty, another two-thirds live in single-parent families, and more than a third of students drop out of high school.
Not coincidentally, Baltimore has an infant mortality rate nearly twice that of the nation, its teen birth rate is higher than the national average, and people here live shorter lives, especially minorities and low-income residents, than their counterparts just a few miles away in the suburbs.
This is a sick city. Literally blocks of houses are boarded up – dead and rotting with crime, hopelessness and fear. If you think I’m being melodramatic, watch the HBO drama The Wire. It’s a pretty accurate portrayal.
<a href="http://www.buzzdash.com/index.php?page=buzzbite&BB_id=122624">Are health connections to poverty & education adequately recognized?</a> | <a href="http://www.buzzdash.com">BuzzDash polls</a>
On The Health Care Blog, we spend a lot of time talking about the
health system, what it’s lacking and how it should be fixed. This is
important, but as Maggie Mahar points out in her post on a new Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation report that demonstrates the undeniably strong
connections between poverty, education and health, “Many experts have
concluded that medical care and genes actually play a relatively minor
role compared with the influence of the physical and social conditions
in which children grow up.”
I haven’t figured out why talking about the detrimental effects of
poverty and poor education never seems to be taken seriously in health
reform debates. Maybe the issues are too large and daunting. I also
don’t understand why efforts to improve the economic status and
well-being of underprivileged Americans always seem to get labeled as a
Maybe, someday I’ll figure it out, but in the meantime, vote in our poll and read Maggie’s excellent post.