Inequality Kills Us All: COVID-19's Health Lessons for the World (Routledge)
March 06, 2023 at 6:00 PM (Pacific Time)
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The complex answer to why the United States does so poorly in health measures has at its base one pervasive issue: The United States has by far the highest levels of inequality of all the rich countries. Inequality Kills Us All details how living in a society with entrenched hierarchies increases the negative effects of illnesses for everyone.
The antidote must start, Stephen Bezruchka recognizes, with a broader awareness of the nature of the problem, and out of that understanding policies that eliminate these inequalities: A fair system of taxation, so that the rich are paying their share; support for child well-being, including paid parental leave, continued monthly child support payments, and equitable educational opportunities; universal access to healthcare; and a guaranteed income for all Americans. The aim is to have a society that treats everyone well—and health will follow.
“The pandemic revealed how healthy different nations compared to one another with the US having the most cases and deaths from COVID-19. The public remains indifferent to this carnage. Medical care and personal behaviors are overshadowed by two more important concepts. Economic inequality kills. Early life lasts a lifetime. We are totally unaware of this social murder lethal force. Roughly half of our adult health has been programmed before we go to school. Healthier nations privilege this period by providing paid parental leave, and strong supports for early life. We speak of investing in health, accessing health, paying for health and getting health. These are not about health but about healthcare. All the other rich nations and a number of poor ones have better health outcomes than we do.”
Stephen Bezruchka, M.D., M.P.H. is Associate Teaching Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Health Systems & Population Health and of Global Health at the School of Public Health, University of Washington. At UW he received the 2002 Outstanding Teacher Award, the 2008 Faculty Community Service Award, the 2017 Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, and the 2018 Communicating Public Health to the Public Award.
He serves on the board of the Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, whose parent organization has shared two Nobel Peace Prizes. There he developed the Economic Inequity Health Task Force. He launched the Population Health Forum in 1998, which presents many of the ideas in this book. His previous books include The Pocket Doctor: A Passport to Healthy Travel; A Guide to Trekking in Nepal, with the 8th edition appearing in 2011; Nepali for Trekkers; and Altitude Illness: Prevention & Treatment. These books have been translated into other languages.
After growing up in Toronto, Canada, and studying mathematics at Harvard University, Bezruchka spent a year roaming the hills of Nepal. There he wrote the first trekking guidebook to the country, after which he moved to Stanford University for medical school. He returned to Nepal in the mid-1970s to set up a community health project in a remote Himalayan valley located a week’s walk from the nearest road. Thereafter he alternated work as an emergency physician in the United States with teaching medicine in Nepal. He set up a remote district hospital there as a teaching unit for Nepali doctors and later collaborated with Nepali doctors to improve medical services in remote district hospitals.
Mountaineering has been his passion, leading to many climbs in North America and beyond, including Nepal, Pakistan and China.
In this wide-ranging journey he discovered that health in the United States was not what should be expected for such a rich country, one that spends a fortune on medical care. To understand why that was true, he studied for a Master of Public Health degree at Johns Hopkins University, where he was exposed to the social and political factors that matter most to advance health. He now looks at the country as the patient in need of treatment. His focus evolved to creating greater public understanding of the determinants of health through teaching, talking, and writing at various levels from middle schools to universities to retirement homes.
(This book cannot be returned.)