They may not seem related, but Dr. Sandro Galea, Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, says we can approach guns, obesity and opioids in the same manner: population health. Dr. Galea breaks down the key concepts of population health – a relatively new field – during the inaugural Colloquium on Population Health and Health Equity at the UCSF School of Medicine.
Dr. Galea argues guns, obesity and opioids are the three epidemics of our time, and three of the main reasons life expectancy is declining in the United States. They also share three key characteristics: They are important, costly health concerns. They are complex. They are resistant to simple solutions. The key to overcoming these challenges Dr. Galea says, is using the population health approach.
He lists nine principles of population health, but focuses on four, including the concept that small changes in ubiquitous causes of health problems can have a greater impact than big changes to rare causes. Dr. Galea uses the example that while much has been done to curb the overprescription of opioids, the epidemic continues to grow. That’s because other options, like synthetic opioids, have become more widely available. Dr. Galea says that’s where population health comes in – finding ways to improve health on a large scale, and addressing epidemics from every angle.
UCLA’s School of Nursing has partnered with the Union Rescue Mission to provide tuberculosis testing for those on Skid Row. The UCLA Newsroom gives us an inside look at the clinic within the Union Rescue Mission and the work they are doing to combat a recent outbreak of TB in the area.
“The first shoot we had scheduled was in Gladys Park a few blocks away from the clinic. They do an outreach when the park opens up and they offer testing,” said Sebastian Hernandez, Manager of the Broadcast Studio, who was involved in the filming of this documentary.
UCLA Today reports, “Public health officials have identified 78 TB cases that have occurred on skid row in 2007-2012. Of those cases, 60 people were homeless. And of those 60, 11 died of TB. All of these cases could have been treated with medication, the county reported.”
The School of Nursing offers testing to all who are willing, whether or not they are staying at the mission.
“It’s a different reality down there [in Gladys Park]. It’s a shady part of town, but you recognize that they are just people trying to cope. It was different inside the mission. People are more at ease. It feels like a safer place for the people living there.”
Hernandez says that the rescue mission seems like it can be a launching pad to get people off the streets and presents them with many different health care services.
“It’s valuable to recognize that there are a bunch of different steps involved in addressing homelessness and all the issues surrounding it. They seem to do a good job of giving the residents the comprehensive care that they need,” says Hernandez. “We need to be aware that a process is necessary and no ‘one free lunch program’ is going to solve the issue. People can mention how homelessness is sad but I hope that seeing this can inspire people to really get beyond guilt and actively support broad policies that address homelessness.”
The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have a pervasive impact on the nation and particularly California, the most populous and diverse state in the country.
In this new program from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, the Goldman School of Public Policy and the Robert Wood Johnson Post-doctoral Scholars Program in Health Policy Research, Larry Levitt, Senior Vice President for Special Initiatives, The Kaiser Family Foundation, and Bruce Bodaken, Chairman and CEO, Blue Shield of California examine access, cost and quality of care issues.