10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Health Impacts of War.

The war in Ukraine leaves no doubt about the horrors of war and its health consequences. Bombs and bullets kill and injure civilians. Men are arrested and executed. Women are physically and sexually assaulted. Children are orphaned. Older people die because they cannot get medical care. Millions are forced to flee their communities and their country. Hospitals, schools, and food and water supply systems have been damaged. And survivors are mentally scarred for life.

During a war, much can be done to better protect civilians and improve humanitarian assistance. But the only way to eliminate the health consequences of war is to abolish war - to create a world without war. To do so will require resolving nonviolently disputes within and between countries. It will require addressing the underlying causes of war: social injustice, poor governance, militarism, ethnic and religious hatred, and environmental stress. It will require strengthening the infrastructure for peace and ensuring the rule of law. And, it will require what may seem impossible -- generating the popular and political will to abolish war.

Achieving Climate Justice

Climate change is causing longer heat waves, stronger hurricanes, flooding, droughts, and rising sea level. In people, it is causing heat stroke, vector-borne diseases, mental disorders, and other health problems and is forcibly displacing millions. People with low incomes and those in low-income countries, which have contributed little to causing climate change, are those who are suffering the most.

Climate change is a powerful multiplier of health and socioeconomic inequities in the United States and globally. At the same time, it offers many opportunities to address these inequities while we adapt to climate challenges and mitigate the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Working to strengthen our public health system to respond to the consequences of climate change can ensure that everyone has access to treatment and preventive services. As we work to transition from an economy based on fossil fuels to one based on renewable energy, we can create new employment opportunities. And as we work together to address these challenges, we can bridge the political divides that have separated us. Achieving climate justice can transform our society.

Preventing Occupational and Environmental Diseases

Environmental and occupational exposures cause a wide range of respiratory, neurological, reproductive, and other diseases. We can prevent many cases of these ailments. Yet physicians receive little training in recognizing and preventing these diseases. These diseases are not being effectively monitored by many state and local health departments, leaving them unprepared to prevent their occurrence. As a result, many cases remain unidentified as being caused by these exposures, causing needless suffering because of missed opportunities to prevent them.

A broad-based approach is needed to address these issues. Medical educators need to include recognition and prevention of occupational diseases in the curricula of medical schools and continuing education programs. Public health agencies must broaden their roles to include surveillance of environmental and occupational diseases. And they need to improve the public's awareness of these diseases and what they can do to recognize and prevent them.

Promoting Social Justice

The lack of social justice causes and contributes to public health problems. Social injustice is defined as the denial or violation of the economic, sociocultural, political, civil, or human rights of specific populations or groups. These groups are socially defined in terms of racial or ethnic status, language, country of origin, socioeconomic status, age, gender, sexual orientation, or other perceived group characteristics.

Social injustice manifests in many ways, ranging from various forms of overt discrimination to the wide gaps between the "haves" and the "have-nots" within a country or between richer and poorer countries. It increases the prevalence of risk factors and hazardous exposures and leads to higher rates of disease, injury, disability, and premature death. Public health professionals and students need have a clear understanding of social injustice in order to address these problems..

Fossil fuel emissions from vehicles increase atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change.

Selected Lectures

American Public Health Association

Brown University

Emory University

Finnish Medical Association

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

McGill/PEGASUS Summer Institute in Peace, Health and Sustainability

Medical College of Wisconsin

Stanford University

Tufts University School of Medicine

University of California Berkeley

University of California, Los Angeles

University of Illinois Chicago

University of Connecticut Health Center

University of Toronto

University of Washington

University of Wisconsin

World Federation of Public Health Associations

Yale University School of Public Health

Occupational health hazards include harmful dusts and loud noise exposures in textile mills.

Selected Webinars

Collegium Ramazzini

Consortium of Universities for Global Health

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
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National Academy of Medicine and American Public Health Association

Population, Health and Armed Conflict Coalition

World Information Transfer
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World Water Week

Globally, many people suffer from socioeconomic inequities that threaten their health.

Selected Previous Speeches

Presidential Address, American Public Health Association
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Presentation of APHA Presidential Citation to Nelson Mandela
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