I stepped out of the office at lunchtime today to go to Harvard Medical School’s Frances A. Countway Library of Medicine, because Sir Michael Marmot was in attendance. He gave a terrific lecture about his new book, The Health Gap. A few points he made:
- “Please read my book,” Dr. Marmot said.
- From suicide in British Columbia to earthquakes in Chile/Haiti to infectious diseases, health equity is a major challenge we face.
- Early childhood education is tremendously important.
- “If you’re smart and rich, you’ve got it made,” he said.
- Regarding social justice, he tries to make a moral/economic case for health equity, but human rights are also very important.
- Regarding the impact of race in America on health outcomes, he stated that this is complicated and he doesn’t pretend to have simple answers. Former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher was a member of the WHO commission on the social determinants of health, and organized a commission in New Orleans in 2007, after Hurricane Katrina. Based on that, and other experiences, Marmot thinks that part of the black/white differences are socioeconomic, and racism is a way of consigning people to worse social conditions. This is a potent mechanism for linking skin color and racial background to poor socioeconomic conditions.
- Along with buying his book, you can follow him on Twitter.
Thanks so much for visiting my website! Writing and reading blog posts does take time and we all know that time is in short supply. You and I will both get much more out of this blog if it leads to dialogue. If you found my post useful and wouldn’t mind leaving a brief comment or sharing on social media, I would be grateful. Or if you’re shy about Tweeting but are willing to email me a comment that I can post anonymously, that would be great. My posts are generally written quickly, so if you find any factual or grammatical errors, please do let me know. Best regards, Philip Lederer