public health

Ella Barnes-Williams is dealing with a lot right now.

For starters, her government-subsidized house in Northeast Washington, D.C., leaks when it rains. She points at a big brown splotch on the ceiling.

"It's like mold, mold, mold all over," she says. "I've got to clean that now 'cause that just came back."

Barnes-Williams is 54 and lives with her 30-year-old daughter and three young grandchildren. All three grandkids have severe asthma, which makes the mold a serious problem. And she and her daughter are diabetic.

The humorist Bill Bryson once wrote that "the purpose of the modern American suburb is to make sure that no citizen is ever more than 500 yards from a food product featuring melted cheese."

That's an exaggeration, but health officials have long worried that our environment of plentiful, cheap and easily accessible calories is contributing to obesity.

Apparently, making restaurant workers wash their hands before exiting the bathroom is a sign of regulation gone overboard.

Why I Left The ER To Run Baltimore's Health Department

Jan 15, 2015

When I was just beginning my third year as a medical student, I learned an important lesson about what matters most in health.

It was a typical summer afternoon in St. Louis, with the temperature and humidity both approaching 100. My patient was a woman in her 40s who was being admitted to the hospital because her lungs were filling with fluid, a complication of kidney failure. She had missed all three dialysis appointments that week.

farmers market
John Tornow/CC

A pediatrician at Harlem Hospital Center is finishing up a visit with her 11 year old patient. Alysia Borden has asthma. It’s made worse because she’s overweight. Her doctor is giving her the usual advice - exercise more, eat healthier. But then she pulls out a prescription pad, scribbles something and hands the prescription to the girl’s mother. But it’s not for medicine. Instead, it’s for fruits and vegetables at local farmer’s markets.

When an Abu Dhabi film company, Image Nation, asked filmmaker Tom Roberts last summer to come up with an idea for a documentary about polio, he was flummoxed.

Jeffrey Shaman: Using Math And Biological Science To Predict Flu Outbreaks

Dec 8, 2014
Columbia University Medical Center

Just as weather forecasting has improved over recent decades, the accuracy of forecasting influenza and other infectious diseases is expected to improve, says Jeffrey Shaman, PhD, associate professor of environmental health sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, who led a team that placed first in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Predict the Influenza Season Challenge.”

There's a project in the neighborhood of Harlem in New York that has a through-the-looking-glass quality. An organization called City Health Works is trying to bring an African model of health care delivery to the United States. Usually it works the other way around.

If City Health Works' approach is successful, it could help change the way chronic diseases are managed in poverty-stricken communities, where people suffer disproportionately from HIV/AIDS, obesity and diabetes.

A lot of us make the assumption that there are two kinds of drinkers: moderate drinkers who have a glass of wine with dinner, and on the other end of the spectrum, alcoholics.

But this is not an accurate picture, according to researchers.

Don't Forget Flu

Nov 14, 2014

Ebola virus has captured the attention of the world since the outbreak in West Africa began months ago, so far claiming nearly 5,000 lives.

Closer to home, seasonal influenza is on its way, bringing brief misery to some people but serious complications or even death to tens of thousands of people in the United States each year.