One of the most intractable challenges of our time is to reduce the inequalities in health that exist in the United States and globally. It is also one of the greatest opportunities for improving health for everyone. In some of our past issues of Berkeley Health, we have focused on what the School is doing to reduce global health inequalities. This issue focuses on what we are doing in our own backyard.
Browsing: Fall 2012 Magazine
How do you know if someone is your neighbor? The friend in the apartment down the hall who waters your plants while you’re on vacation is definitely your neighbor. And unfortunately, so is the man next door with the dog that barks at three in the morning. But what about the family having that garage sale five blocks away? Or the woman in front of you in the pharmacy line at the drug store a half mile from your house?
The consequences of social stigma can be physically harmful, and even deadly. People who are shunned by our society—due to homelessness, drug use, non-conforming gender identity, or other attributes—generally have much poorer health and higher death rates than those in the mainstream. They may be at increased risk of HIV infection, be more likely to have experienced violence, or suffer from severe mental health problems, for example.
Dr. Melanie Tervalon is outspoken about being humble. The Oakland pediatrician and community activist wants doctors to loosen the reins of power, become more self-reflective, and do a better job of listening. Too often, even the most well intended physician overlooks the wisdom of true experts in the health care setting—the patients themselves.
As a young teacher in Watts, Jonathan Malagon learned to lock down his classroom in case of trouble. There was plenty of it. Malagon sealed the doors when violence erupted on the grounds of Jordan High School or threatened to spill onto campus from neighboring streets.
As current students, we were drawn to Berkeley’s history of promoting social change and were motivated by Dean Shortell’s statement that the School of Public Health is “committed to eliminating the health inequities that exist due to social inequalities.”