Miami Dade County Community Forum

Monday, March 22, 2010

Unnatural Causes: health and the social environment at FIU starting Saturday, March 27. By Santiago Leon

Although we often speak of health and health care as if they were the same thing, in fact health care plays only a small role (not more than 15%) in the over-all health of our population. A much more important role is played by environment and lifestyle.

Breaking it down further, it is apparent that in today's America the physical environment (e.g. air quality) has a smaller influence on most people's health than the power of the social environment (e.g. its impact on stress). Moreover, "lifestyle" (for example, what we eat) is in turn strongly influenced by our social environment (for example, the availability and cost of healthy food as well as the time to prepare it).

So we are led to the conclusion that the single greatest influence on the health of Americans is their social enviroment. In particular, the economic circumstances of our lives affect individuals at all income levels. These effects are compounded for those who are the victims of racial and other prejudice.

The relationship between social inequities and health is now so well documented that it will be the theme of the next annual convention of the American Public Health Association ("Social Justice: A Public Health Imperative"). However, in our community, the relationship is almost never discussed. Thus, it is welcome news when a local institution invites the community to an open discussion about this relationship, drawing on the talents of its faculty and using as a starting point a prize-winning video series, Unnatural Causes.

This series of events will be an outstanding opportunity to explore the relationship between social justice and health with local experts. I hope that you will be able to join me in attending the entire series, or at least a part it (if you must choose, I would strongly recommend the first day). Continuing education credits will be available, and REGISTRATION IS FREE.

The Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade wishes to share with you information about an upcoming educational opportunity. Florida International University, in honor of Public Health Week, is sponsoring an Unnatural Causes Series. “Unnatural Causes” is a documentary series exploring America’s racial and socioeconomic inequities in health. The documentary goes beyond popular conceptions linking health to medical care, lifestyles, and genes to explore evidence of other more powerful determinants: the social conditions in which we are born, live and work.

Program Dates:

· Saturday, March 27, 2010, 9am to 11am
· Saturday, April 3, 2010, 9am to 12:30pm
· Saturday, April 10, 2010, 9am to 12:30pm

Florida International University- South Campus
Paul Cejas Architecture (PCA) Building
Room PCA 135
11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199

This training is free for all participants and continuing education units are offered. Attached you will find a brochure with registration information. For questions, call Miami-Dade Area Health Education Center at (305) 597-3642.

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