International Health at Home (US)

In chapter 7 of Textbook of International Health, we discuss the numerous factors of “societal determinants of health and social inequalities in health.” These risks are often thought of as pertinent in other parts of the world — the developing world. We discuss global health often without thinking of the major health problems in the United States.

There are two realities of health that are currently leading news stories and, unfortunately, are a reality for millions of Americans.

On pages 315-317, “Nutrition and Food Security” is explored. The authors observe: “Throughout the world, 2 billion people suffer from nutrient shortages, even when their daily calorie needs are met or exceeded,” (Birn, 316). Many of these individuals live in our communities, earning such low wages that they either are unable to provide enough food for themselves and their families to maintain health or their income force them to purchase cheaper “junk food” that fills their hunger, but does little for their body’s nutritional needs. Many impoverished areas are food deserts, geographic zones that lack a grocery store with fresh produce, and instead often contain minimarts filled with processed foods. Our government has a public health and safety net program that helps provide healthy, nutritious foods to low-income individuals and families called SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program), commonly referred to as food stamps. SNAP is under attack this week, threatening the health and lives of 4 million people by taking away their assistance.

The Republican-controlled House passed a bill to decrease funding for SNAP by $40-billion dollars. Those politicians believe that there is abuse of this system. Their plan to counter what is estimated at 1 percent of abusive recipients is to cut 4 million needy people from receiving food stamps while also simultaneously increasing administrative costs of the program. This is not an effective way to spend tax dollars and help our citizens. It is true that the SNAP recipient list has grown dramatically in recent years and that SNAP’s budget has roughly doubled, but that is suppose to happen in safety-net and anti-poverty programs during hard economic times, which we certainly have experienced in recent years. For the poorest U.S. citizens, the economy has not improved yet.

Read more about this developing story here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-rawlingsblake/republican-snap-cuts_b_3963276.html

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/snap-notes/?_r=0

The second hot topic in American health and politics right now is reproductive rights. We talk about access to healthcare worldwide, yet often don’t think about people who are unable to find a doctor in their community or their need to travel many days to visit one as our domestic problem, but it is. This past summer, I worked at the Center for Reproductive Rights. I want to make a plug to those of you who may be interested in defending reproductive rights (both domestically and internationally) and issues of women’s access to healthcare: Check out a couple of things:

We have started a Young Professionals Alliance called CRRYPA, which is great for networking!

https://www.facebook.com/crrypa

This Wednesday is CRR’s big event, Unite Tonight for the Draw the Line Campaign, which you may be interested in getting involved in and/or learning more about:

http://www.drawtheline.org

 

 

 

 

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