DiversityNursing Blog

The Impact of Racism on Public Health

Posted by Nursing@USC Staff

Thu, Dec 01, 2016 @ 11:05 AM

53fc66d80604e.jpgThough discrimination exists in many forms, racial discrimination brings a unique set of implications that threaten the mental and physical health of patients and acts as a barrier to seeking care from medical professionals. Eliminating racism, therefore, is not just a concern for civil rights activists, but also for medical professionals.

Whether it’s the mere anticipation of discrimination, or violence as a manifestation of prejudice, racism has negative impacts on the mental and physical health of its victims, including “increased stress, depression, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and mortality.” A study in the American Journal of Public Health found that perceived discrimination influences lifestyle decisions like overeating, internalizing aggression, and developing poor coping strategies that impact long-term health.

These lifestyle choices are part of a vicious cycle that can be influenced by social determinants of health, which are “conditions in one's environment — where people are born, live, work, learn, play, and worship — that have a huge impact on how healthy certain individuals and communities are or are not,” according to Healthy People 2020.

One study found that racism experienced by minority communities increased vulnerabilities to social and environmental factors that contribute to health, like access to health care and income level. The National Association of Social Workers found that these social determinants of health also include “poor health and health services, inadequate mental health services, low wages, high unemployment and underemployment, overrepresentation in prior populations, substandard housing, high school dropout rates, decreased access to higher education opportunities and other institutional maladies.”

In addition to affecting long-term health, social determinants can be barriers in seeking quality health care, and can lead to poorer outcomes after treatment. Many minorities cite racial discrimination as a primary barrier to seeking health care — particularly treatment for mental health issues. In a survey of adults who experienced an unmet need for mental health treatment in the past year, respondents across all racial group cited discrimination as a primary barrier to seeking treatment. Nearly a quarter of respondents said they anticipated negative stigmas surrounding treatment to impact relationships and employment circumstances.

As key resources in patients’ access to quality primary care, health care professionals, like Family Nurse Practitioners, must understand these implications of racial discrimination among other social determinants, and mitigate harmful, pervasive effects through opportunities like these:

  • Advocating for awareness: Nurses, as they interact with patients closely and regularly, can be advocates for patient needs, as they help identify key social determinants that leave patients vulnerable to the systemic racism. Public health advocates can also reach out to minority communities to help them understand the importance of physical and mental health.
  • Treating mental health as primary health: Integrating behavioral health care screening and treatment can help patients make better use of clinic visits and resources they might not otherwise be able to access. This increased access can reduce health disparities and increase effectiveness of treatment.
  • Promoting cultural competency: A diverse nursing staff can improve cultural competency — being conscious of social and cultural differences — and increase quality of care to underserved groups. By valuing diversity, nurses and other health professionals can take pivotal steps in ensuring access to care for an increasingly diverse patient population.

An integrated approach to mitigating discrimination can address both the causes and effects of its impact on accessing quality care. This means nurses should work together with other health practitioners, social workers and educators to understand and identify at-risk patients and appropriate strategies. Above all else, the goal is to help patients feel safe, understood and heard when seeking health care or treatment.

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Topics: racism, public health

Is Discrimination Bad for Your Health?

Posted by Nursing@USC Staff

Wed, Nov 16, 2016 @ 10:42 AM

discrimination_bad_for_health.jpgDiscrimination in the United States has historically cut a wide swath across a number of demographics, including race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability and religion. Despite a major cultural and political shift through the implementation of the long overdue Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other efforts at fighting discrimination, we still see it today — particularly in the form of modern-day racism. According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), racism is “the ideology or practice through demonstrated power of perceiving the superiority of one group over others by reason of race, color, ethnicity, or cultural heritage.”

Though all discrimination is harmful, an examination of the effects of racism — the most commonly studied and cited form of discrimination — reveals implications for the mental and physical health of individuals and communities that can be applied to other types of discrimination. Racism, therefore, is not just a civil rights issue, but also a public health concern.

As key figures in addressing such consequences, health care professionals, such as Family Nurse Practitioners, must recognize the health implications involved and know the steps they can take to help stop discrimination and mitigate its negative outcomes.

Impact of Discrimination on Health

The NASW says racism results in “poor health and health services, inadequate mental health services, low wages, high unemployment and underemployment, overrepresentation in prior populations, substandard housing, high school dropout rates, decreased access to higher education opportunities and other institutional maladies.” Some of these factors can be classified as social determinants of health (SDOH), which have a major influence on health outcomes. According to Healthy People 2020, SDOHs are defined as “conditions in one's environment — where people are born, live, work, learn, play, and worship — that have a huge impact on how healthy certain individuals and communities are or are not.” 

In one study of the health effects of discrimination on black and white communities, SDOHs were defined as a critical factor, since populations that lack appropriate resources are affected the most: “On average, black adults typically experience more health risks in their social and personal environment than white adults (including higher poverty and lower-quality medical insurance), they may be especially vulnerable to negative health effects as a result of racial discrimination." 

There are a number of physical and mental health effects related to discrimination, including increased stress, depression, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and mortality. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, “Merely anticipating prejudice leads to both psychological and cardiovascular stress responses. These results are consistent with the conceptualization of anticipated discrimination as a stressor and suggest that vigilance for prejudice may be a contributing factor to racial/ethnic health disparities in the United States.” Additionally, discrimination has been found to impact lifestyle decisions that affect health long after the experience is over.

Communities at highest risk for discrimination are the same communities that are perpetually marginalized by the negative impact of SDOHs. In a 2013 Atlantic article titled “How Racism is Bad for Our Bodies,” writer Jason Silverstein points out that the cyclical effect of discrimination on health is what epidemiologist Nancy Krieger refers to as “embodied inequality,” which creates poor health outcomes that are often passed down through generations. This results in a vicious cycle where the sickest and poorest among us are more likely to remain sick and poor.

Solutions and Strategies

Health care professionals and policymakers can play a key role in curbing discrimination by supporting legislation and policies that address these issues, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. The U.S. Office of Minority Healthprovides a summary of this action plan, and serves as a “one-stop source for minority health literature, research and referrals for consumers, community organizations and health professionals.” Through use of such resources, and appropriate support networks, victims of discrimination can find the support they need to exercise their rights and end the various forms of discrimination they may be vulnerable to.

Additionally, it is essential that health care professionals work to better recognize the effects of discrimination by taking SDOHs into consideration as part of their approach to care, understanding which populationsmay be at greater risk for discrimination, screening for negative health outcomes that may be a direct result, and ensuring that discrimination is not occurring within their own practice settings. Providing access to necessary resources and additional support for these patients is critical.

Implications for FNPs

Family Nurse Practitioners are integral to comprehensive care for all patients, and serve as a key resource for those most vulnerable to discrimination’s negative effects on health. “At the University of Southern California Department of Nursing in the School of Social Work, we are teaching our students about the central importance of social determinants of health, with racism being a key determinant, in the health of individuals and families,” said Ellen Olshansky, Professor and Chair of Nursing at USC School of Social Work. Although the policy statement by the American Nurses Association, “Discrimination and Racism in Health Care,” dates to 1998, its principles are just as relevant today, addressing both the health care environment and the patients who are served:

ANA believes it is critically important for Americans to come to a shared understanding of the negative consequences of discrimination and racism which still pervades our society and be willing to take individual as well as collective actions to bring America closer to our ideal of equality and justice. Equality and justice must also extend to other minorities such as the aged and disabled. Health care that is individualized to the health practices and specific needs of each person and/or population group is vital to maintain and improve the health of all Americans.
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Topics: racism, Race-Discrimination, public health

A Young Person's Disease

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, Jun 04, 2015 @ 11:57 AM

We think this video and infographic are important to get out there to anyone you know, especially the young people in your life. It’s about melanoma and the fact that it strikes young people. It’s the 2nd most common cancer in children and teenagers! Some great information and tips. Please share it.


Untitled Infographic resized 600

Topics: public health, infographic, skin cancer, melanoma

How Do Race And Ethnicity Influence Childhood Obesity?

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Apr 29, 2015 @ 10:54 AM

Written by James McIntosh

www.medicalnewstoday.com 

children lying down in a circle smiling resized 600Obesity is a serious public health problem in the US and can affect anyone regardless of age. In particular, childhood obesity prevalence remains high. As well as compromising a child's immediate health, obesity can also negatively influence long-term health dramatically. Unfortunately, some racial and ethnic groups are affected by obesity much more than others.

For example, the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) report that African-American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese, compared with other racial or ethnic groups in the US.

Approximately 4 out of 5 African-African women were found to be overweight or obese and, in 2011, African-American women were 80% more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white women.

Researchers have identified that disparities in obesity prevalence can be found just as readily among children as among adults. It is alarming that these disparities exist to begin with, but more so that they exist so early in life for so many.

In this Spotlight feature, we take a brief look at the prevalence of childhood obesity in the US and the disparities in childhood obesity prevalence that exist among different racial and ethnic groups. We will examine what factors may contribute to this disparity and what action can be taken to remedy the situation.

A growing problem

"Obesity is the terror within," states Dr. Richard Carmona, the former Surgeon General. "Unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9-11 or any other terrorist attempt."

These are strong words, but they illustrate the scope of the obesity problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2009-2010, over a third (35.7%) of adults in the US were obese.

On average, childhood obesity in the US has not changed significantly since 2003-2004, and overall, approximately 17% of all children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese - a total of 12.7 million.

There are a number of immediate health problems that childhood obesity can lead to, including:

  • Respiratory problems, such as asthma and sleep apnea
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Increased risk of psychological and social problems, such as discrimination and low self-esteem
  • Joint problems
  • Type 2 diabetes.

In the long term, obese children are much more likely to grow up to be obese as adults than children with healthy weights. Not only that, but the obesity experienced by these children is likely to be more severe, leading to further and more extreme health problems.

Significant disparities exist in obesity prevalence between different racial and ethnic groups. The CDC report the following obesity prevalence percentages among different youth demographics:

  • Hispanic youth - 22.4%
  • Non-Hispanic black youth - 20.2%
  • Non-Hispanic white youth - 14.1%
  • Non-Hispanic Asian youth - 8.6%.

From these figures taken from 2011-2012, we can see that levels of obesity among Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children and adolescents are significantly above average.

When the parameters are extended to include overweight children as well, the disparity persists. Around 38.9% of Hispanic youth and 32.5% of non-Hispanic black youth are either overweight or obese, compared with 28.5% of non-Hispanic white youth.

In 2008, Dr. Sonia Caprio, from the Yale University School of Medicine, CN, and colleagues wrote an article published in Diabetes Care in which they examined the influence of race, ethnicity and culture on childhood obesity, and what their implications were for prevention and treatment.

"Obesity in children is associated with severe impairments in quality of life," state the authors. "Although differences by race may exist in some domains, the strong negative effect is seen across all racial/ethnic groups and dwarfs any potential racial/ethnic differences."

However, if there are specific factors contributing to these disparities that can be addressed, the numbers involved suggest that attention should be paid to them. The long-term health of thousands of children in the US is at stake.

Socioeconomic factors

"Rarely is obesity in children caused by a medical condition," write the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in their childhood obesity advocacy manual. "It occurs when more calories are eaten than calories burned."

The NAACP outline a number of factors that contribute to increases in childhood obesity, including:

  • The development of neighborhoods that hinder or prevent outdoor physical activity
  • Failure to adequately educate and influence families about good nutrition
  • Ignored need for access to healthy foods within communities
  • Limited physical activity in schools
  • Promotion of a processed food culture.

The CDC report that childhood obesity among preschoolers is more prevalent in those who come from lower-income families. It is likely that this ties in with the disparity with obesity prevalence among different racial and ethnic groups.

"There are major racial differences in wealth at a given level of income," write Caprio, et al. "Whereas whites in the bottom quintile of income had some accumulated resources, African-Americans in the same income quintile had 400 times less or essentially none."

Fast food and processed food is widely available, low cost and nutritionally poor. For these reasons, they are often associated with rising obesity prevalence among children. According to Caprio, et al., lower-cost foods comprise a greater proportion of the diet of lower-income individuals.

If adults need to work long hours in order to make enough money to support their families, they may have a limited amount of time in which to prepare meals, leading them to choose fast food and convenient processed food over more healthy home-cooked meals.

Living in high-poverty areas can also mean that children have limited access to suitable outdoor spaces for exercise. If the street is the only option available to children in which to play, they or their parents may prefer them to stay inside in a safer environment.

Hispanic youth and non-Hispanic black youth are more likely to come from lower-income families than non-Hispanic white youth. According to The State of Obesity, white families earn $2 for every $1 earned by Hispanic or non-Hispanic black families.

Over 38% of African-American children aged below 18 and 23% of Latino families live below the poverty line. This statistic suggests that the effects of living with a low income that increase the risk of obesity may be felt much more by African-American and Latino families and their children.

Not only do these socioeconomic factors increase the risk of obesity among these demographic groups but equally obesity can compromise a family's economic standing.

The NAACP point out that families with obese children spend more money on clothing and medical care. Additionally, as obese and overweight girls frequently start puberty at a younger-than-average age, there is a possibility that their risk of adolescent pregnancy is also higher.

Cultural factors

Alongside these socioeconomic factors, a number of additional factors exist that may be linked to an increased prevalence of childhood obesity among Hispanic and non-Hispanic black youth.

The NAACP give one such example, stating that one component of body image is how a person believes others view them or accept their weight:

"This also poses unique challenges in African-American communities because of cultural norms that accept, uplift and at times reward individuals who are considered 'big-boned,' 'P-H-A-T, fat,' or thick.'"

Cultural norms such as these may lead to parents remaining satisfied with the weight of their children or even wanting them to be heavier, even if they are at an unhealthy weight. Other sociological studies have also suggested that among Hispanic families, women may prefer a thin figure for themselves but a larger one for their children, according to Caprio, et al.

As well as being influenced by socioeconomic status, the type of foods eaten by children can be influenced by the cultural traditions of their families.

"Food is both an expression of cultural identity and a means of preserving family and community unity," write Caprio, et al. "While consumption of traditional food with family may lower the risk of obesity in some children (e.g., Asians), it may increase the risk of obesity in other children (e.g., African-Americans)."

As mentioned earlier, the promotion of a processed food culture may be a contributing factor to childhood obesity. As fast food companies target specific audiences, favoring cultural forms associated with a particular race or ethnicity could increase children's risk of being exposed to aggressive marketing.

Caprio, et al., report that exposure to food-related television advertising - most frequently fast food advertising - was found to be 60% among African-American children.

The amount of television that is watched may contribute as well; one study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation observed that African-American children watched television for longer periods than non-Hispanic white children.

A number of these cultural factors are associated with socioeconomic factors. African-American children may be more likely to watch television for longer, for example, if they live in areas where opportunities for playing safely outside are limited.

What can be done?

This subject area is far too detailed to do justice to in an article of this size, but these brief observations suggest that there should be ways in which the disparity in childhood obesity between racial and ethnic groups can be addressed.

Having more safe spaces to walk, exercise and play in low-income areas would give children a better opportunity to get the exercise need to burn the required number of calories each day. Improving the availability of and access to healthy food would give families more options when it came to maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

The NAACP state that low-income neighborhoods have half as many supermarkets as the wealthiest neighborhoods, suggesting that for many low-income families, accessing healthy food can be a challenge.

These problems are ones that would need to be solved by local government and businesses that have influence over the planning and development of public living spaces. 

Caprio, et al. propose that a "socioecological" framework should be adopted to guide the prevention of childhood obesity. Such a framework would involve viewing children "in the context of their families, communities, and cultures, emphasizing the relationships among environmental, biological and behavioral determinants of health."

This approach would require large-scale collaboration, involving peer support, the establishment of supportive social norms and both the private and public sector working together.

"For health care providers to have a meaningful interaction about energy intake and energy expenditure with children/families, providers should have training in cultural competency in order to understand the specific barriers patients face and the influence of culture and society on health behaviors," the authors suggest.

In order for this disparity to be adequately addressed, a lot of work will need to be done. Not only might certain cultural norms need to be altered, but most importantly, environments will need to be provided in which children will have the opportunity to live as healthy lives as possible.

Topics: US, obesity, diversity, health, healthcare, CDC, public health, children, minority, ethnicity, race, childhood obesity

Will Overpopulation Lead To Public Health Catastrophe?

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 02:39 PM

By David McNamee

four babies on a blanket

A new report finds that by 2100, there will be more people alive on the planet than has ever previously been predicted. We investigate what the consequences these extra bodies may have for maintaining public health.

The potentially catastrophic consequences of an exponentially growing global population is a favorite subject for writers of dystopian fiction.

The most recent example, Utopia - a forthcoming David Fincher-directed series for HBO - won critical acclaim in its original incarnation on UK television for its depiction of a conspiracy-laden modern world where the real threat to public health is not Ebola or other headline-friendly communicable viruses, but overpopulation.

Fears over the ever-expanding number of human bodies on our planet are not new and have been debated by researchers and policy makers for decades, if not centuries. However, recent research by University of Washington demographer Prof. Adrian Raftery - using modern statistical modeling and the latest data on population, fertility and mortality - has found that previous projections on population growth may have been conservative.

"Our new projections are probabilistic, and we find that there will probably be between 9.6 and 12.3 billion people in 2100," Prof. Raftery told Medical News Today. "This projection is based on a statistical model that uses all available past data on fertility and mortality from all countries in a systematic way, unlike previous projections that were based on expert assumptions."

Prof. Raftery's figure places up to an additional 5 billion people more on the Earth by 2100 than have been previously calculated.

A key finding of the study is that the fertility rate in Africa is declining much more slowly than has been previously estimated, which Prof. Raftery tells us "has major long-term implications for population."

Fertility rates declining more slowly in Africa than previously reported

A 2003 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found that, in sub-Saharan Africa, both fertility and mortality rates were high, with the proportion of people aged over 65 expected to remain small, increasing from an estimated 2.9% in 2000 to 3.7% in 2030.

The CDC report notes that fertility rates declined in developing countries during the preceding 30 years, following a 20th century trend among developed countries. The pattern established by developed countries - and presumed to follow in developing countries - was that countries shift from high fertility and high mortality rates to low fertility and delayed mortality.

This transition starts with declining infant and childhood mortality as a result of improved public health measures. Improvements in infant and childhood mortality contribute to longer life expectancy and a younger population.

This trend of adults living longer, healthier lives is typically followed by a decline in fertility rates. The CDC report suggested that by 2030, there would be similar proportions of younger and older people in developing countries, by that point mirroring the age distribution in developed countries circa 1990.

Prof. Raftery's research, however, notes that in Nigeria - Africa's most populous country - each woman has an average of six children, and in the last 5 years, the child mortality rate has fallen from 136 per 1,000 live births to 117. This works out as a population increase of 20 people per square mile over the same timespan.

How will population growth affect developing countries?

But what does this mean for countries where the public health system is already stretched to breaking point - as has been demonstrated by the recent Ebola epidemic?

"Rapid population growth is likely to increase the burden on the public health service proportionally," answered Prof. Raftery.

"There are already big public health needs and challenges in high-fertility countries, and rapid population growth will make it even harder to meet them." However, if the fertility rate declines faster, Prof. Raftery suggests that high-fertility countries can reap "a demographic dividend."

He explained:

"This is a period of about a generation during which the number of dependents (children and old people) is small. This frees up resources for public health, education, infrastructure and environmental protection, and can make it easier for the economy to grow. This can happen even while the population is still increasing."

Does this suggest that an increasing population is not quite as much of a threat, but that it is more specifically the accelerations and decelerations in fertility rates that provide warning signs to future public health crises?

"Following a long run of an increasing human population growth rate, over the past half century the rate has been halved from about 2% to about 1%," Darryl Holman, professor of biological anthropology at the University of Washington, explained to MNT.

"The turnaround is quite remarkable," he said. "But as long as the growth rate remains positive, our species will eventually reach numbers and densities where technological solutions cannot ameliorate resource scarcity."

High population density leads to a much higher rate of contact between humans, which means that communicable diseases - ranging from the common cold to Dengue fever - can be much more easily transmitted.

And more people means greater efforts are needed to control waste management and provide clean water. If these needs cannot be adequately met, then diarrheal diseases become much more common, resulting in what Prof. Holman described to the University of Washington's news website The Daily UW as a "huge, huge, huge difference in mortality rates."

Taking a more general view, "the anticipated increase in the number of older persons will have dramatic consequences for public health, the health care financing and delivery systems, informal caregiving, and pension systems," wrote the authors of the CDC's 2003 report.

Overpopulation and the environment

"Can we assume that life on earth as we know it can continue no matter what the environmental conditions?," asked the authors of a 2001 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health report on the health consequences of population growth.

The Johns Hopkins report quoted figures demonstrating that unclean water and poor sanitation kill over 12 million people every year, while air pollution kills 3 million. In 64 of 105 developing countries, population has grown faster than food supplies.

By 2025, the report claimed, humankind could be using over 90% of all available freshwater, leaving just 10% for the world's plants and animals.

Prof. Holman summarizes the writings of experts Joel Cohen, E.O. Wilson, Paul Ehrlich and Ronald Lee, who have argued that the consequences of long-term environmental degradation - "specifically rising sea levels, disruption of agriculture and the increased frequency of extreme weather events resulting from anthropogenic climate change, exacerbated by resource scarcity" - create social problems that lead to social unrest.

With more people living together than ever before, it seems inevitable that this compounded social unrest would lead to increased warfare and fighting for resources.

According to the Johns Hopkins researchers, about half of the world's population currently occupies a coastal strip 200 kilometers wide - which means that 50% of us are squeezed together on just 10% of the world's land surface.

The projected flooding of these coastal regions as a result of global warming and rising sea levels could displace millions of people, result in widespread droughts and disrupt agriculture.

The Johns Hopkins team identified two main courses of action to divert these potential disasters.

Firstly - sustainable development. The report authors argued this should include:

  • More efficient use of energy
  • Managing cities better
  • Phasing out subsidies that encourage waste
  • Managing water resources and protecting freshwater sources
  • Harvesting forest products rather than destroying forests
  • Preserving arable land and increasing food production
  • Managing coastal zones and ocean fisheries
  • Protecting biodiversity hotspots.

The second vital area of action is the stabilization of population through good-quality family planning, which "would buy time to protect natural resources."

How to reduce fertility in a morally acceptable way?

Commenting on Prof. Raftery's finding that we may be welcoming an additional 5 billion individuals onto the planet by 2100 than had previously been estimated - a potential global population of 12.3 billion people - Prof. Holman admits that "it is difficult to know what the public health effects will be."

He explains:

"By then, we may see severe petroleum and fresh water resource shortages, climate changes that affect agriculture patterns that, in turn, affect food supplies. Reducing fertility in socially and morally acceptable ways seems like one public health strategy to avoid - or at least postpone - testing some of these limits."

In Utopia, a sinister governmental organization proposes to sterilize a large percentage of the population by rolling out a secretly modified vaccine in response to a manufactured flu pandemic. Obviously, that is not a socially or morally acceptable strategy for reducing fertility - but what is?

Experts consider boosting the education of girls in developing countries to be a prime solution.

As well as acquiring more control over their reproductive life, an educated female workforce should have more opportunities of employment and of earning a living wage. Studies report that the children of educated women also have better chances of survival and will become educated themselves. This pattern continuing across generations is associated with a decline in fertility rates.

A 2011 article by the Earth Policy Institute (EPI), analyzing data from the United Nations (UN), states that "countries in which more children are enrolled in school - even at the primary level - tend to have strikingly lower fertility rates."

In particular:

"Female education is especially important. Research consistently shows that women who are empowered through education tend to have fewer children and have them later. If and when they do become mothers, they tend to be healthier and raise healthier children, who then also stay in school longer. They earn more money with which to support their families, and contribute more to their communities' economic growth. Indeed, educating girls can transform whole communities."

The relationship between education, fertility and national poverty is a direct one. As the EPI authors add: "When mortality rates decline quickly but fertility rates fail to follow, countries can find it harder to reduce poverty."

The UN's 2012 Revision of the world population prospects report suggested if we make rapid reductions in family size, then it may still be possible to constrain the global population to 8 billion by 2045.

No projections are set in stone - all are contingent on what extent fertility rates will sway over the next century. And, as Prof. Holman pointed out to us, the nature of the threat posed by overpopulation has "been vigorously debated for over 200 years" with experts still not in complete accord.

For instance, in the 1980s, said Prof. Holman, the economist Julian Simon and ecologist Paul Ehrlich went on tour together, with a series of debates about the consequences of population growth.

"Ehrlich argued that continued population growth would lead to disaster for humans. Simon argued that population growth provided more people to invent new solutions to the problems confronting humans," said Prof. Holman, adding:

"Given the trends to this point, Simon has been 'more right.' One simple measure of this is mortality rates, which have decreased for most human groups. The flaw in Simon's argument may well be that we have never hit the limits of our finite earth. Positive population growth guarantees that we will, someday, hit some hard limits."

"So that," Prof. Holman concluded, "is the long term."

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Topics: health, healthcare, research, disease, health care, CDC, public health, over population, future, population, people, Earth, data

3 More Diagnosed With Rare Plague in Colorado

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 12:44 PM

By Reuters

bacteria resized 600

Three more people in Colorado have been diagnosed with the plague after coming in contact with an infected dog whose owner contracted a life-threatening form of the disease, state health officials said on Friday.

In all, four people were infected with the disease from the same source, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a statement.

Last week the department said a man in an eastern Colorado county whose dog died of the plague had been diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a rare and serious form of the disease.

The man remains hospitalized, but authorities have not released his condition.

The three people in the latest reported cases had "mild symptoms" and have fully recovered after being treated with antibiotics, the department said, adding that they are no longer contagious.

Two of the patients in the new cases contracted pneumonic plague, the department said.

Pneumonic plague is the only form of the disease that can be transmitted person-to-person, usually through infectious droplets from coughing.

The bacteria that causes plague occurs naturally in the western United States, primarily in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The infected canine in Colorado likely contracted the disease from prairie dogs or rabbits, which are the primary hosts for fleas that carry the bacteria.

When an infected animal dies, the fleas spread the disease when they find another host.

Colorado has seen a total of 12 cases of humans infected with the plague over the last decade, said Jennifer House, the department's public health veterinarian.

"We usually don't see an outbreak like this related to the same source," House said.

Colorado had not had a confirmed human case of pneumonic plague since 2004, she said.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/health

Topics: plague, Colorado, news, blog, humans, dog, health, disease, CDC, public health, infection

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