Week 9 Question: The Environment

Some critics of (radical) environmentalism argue that as our concern for the environment increases, so does our neglect for the human poor. What do you think? Does the way we define “environment” influence how it ought to be included in the study and practice of medicine and public health?

This entry was posted in week 9. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Week 9 Question: The Environment

  1. Akanksha Samal says:

    In the introduction of The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer satirizes human priorities through his ironic portrayal of a Prioress who cares more for her pets than for people who are in dire need of food or help. The attention the nun gives to her animals The Canterbury Tales is reflective of this critical view of some radical environmentalists as neglectful of important human concerns such as poverty. The prompt for this week reminds me of the proverbial ‘the chicken or the egg’ question with which problem needs to be addressed first – the environmental or human well being? We need the environment to support life, and people have a responsibility to sustain the place that is providing for them. In my mind, moderation of one’s priorities and gaining a well-rounded understanding of environmental factors is key to providing attention to both.

    The way we define “environment” does influence our study and practice of medicine and public health because its denotation has the power to direct our attention and our priorities. Several of the topics we have covered so far tie in as determinants that modify the definition of “environment”. In his presentation, Dr. Kitron mentioned gender differences in the way the people of Kenya interact with water sources in the environment and their risk of exposure to schistosomiasis. Without the knowledge of the local culture and gender roles, how would a health practitioner understand why males are more susceptible to the disease?

    The article by Mitman from last week on place as well as this week’s article by Doyal and Pennell warn of dangers that arise when one does not take environmental history into account: attributing the improvement “in third world health” to “the introduction of western medicine” and the obscurity of the role of imperialism (Doyal and Pennell 96). A few weeks ago, Dr. Scully described the fluidity of culture in the environment of Vietnam and the new environment of the refugee camps abroad: how individual views on religion changed to address intergroup tensions. For the practice of medicine and public health, knowledge of accessibility to resources and what a population prioritizes in their definition of “environment” is key to providing support in the region where one is practicing, thus the definition of “environment” is absolutely necessary in the study of medicine and public health. I would even say that knowledge of environmental factors helps a health practitioner become the more reliable “inhabitant” Dr. Patterson mentioned in the unit on place.

  2. Kristine Rosenberger says:

    An increasing concern for the environment is evident across the United States as the human population becomes more and more aware of the negative consequences our actions can have on this environment. This increased awareness prompts environmentalists to educate others on the importance of preservation as the destruction of ecosystems can have negative repercussions on both environmental and population health. One example of this increased awareness at a local level is Emory’s Sustainable food fair. The fair prides itself on being a zero-waste event and provides a setting where students can learn about food sustainability and gain information on places where such food products can be bought. The event successfully shows students how their actions impact the environment and prompt them to make more eco friendly food chances. However just because they are armed with information does not mean the changes it promotes are attainable; funds are an issue of major importance for the majority of college students and it is entirely possible that many will be physically unable to get to locations that provide environmentally sound food. Furthermore, for students with meal plans, it is unlikely that they will spend supplemental money to eat environmentally consciously when the majority of their food is already paid for via their campus meal plans.

    Breakthroughs in environmentalism often provide idealist solution not fully taking into account of economic implications. Many people do not have the means to live an environmentally conscious life style. One obstacle brought up by Cassandra Quave in her lecture on ethnobotany was the issue of food deserts. Food deserts are a conundrum in the United States predominately affecting poor people in relatively isolated areas. Many people do not have access to a grocery store and rely predominately on fast food as a part of their diet. This sustenance is not only nutritionally lacking but also comes in packaging that can be environmentally harmful and often deposited in landfills further adding to the problem of environmental consciousness.

    Our practice of medicine and public health is largely contingent on our definition of environment. Akanksha mentions the issue of gender differences in regards to susceptibility to schistosomiasis and how it is important to understand gender roles in Kenya as without this understanding a public health practitioner will be unable to explain why men are more affected by the disease than women. This example provides evidence to the assertion that anthropologic effects play a large role in regards to invasion of pathogens. In his talk Dr. Kitron discussed how anthropologic changes such as urbanization and agricultural development are paramount in the evolution of various diseases. Such changes show the different physical values held by a culture; all changes have a direct impact on a person’s environment, with “environment” in this case being defined as physical area of inhabitance. The environment is directly related to our view of place, as the concept of place is constructed through a combination of culture, geography and religion. Therefore cultural values are important in understanding the implications of a given environment as we can see member’s meaning and gain crucial insight into the culture through exploration of its unique environment. This insight is crucial for the effective treatment of disease as in order to fully heal a patient it is required that the health care practitioner first understand the meaning he attributes to his condition.

  3. Matthew Brandon Fine says:

    I think demonizing environmentalism as denigrating the needs of the poor is a dangerous road to go down. I remember a video that Dr. Labrecque showed in the environmental sciences seminar last semester about the “Green Dragon”, where it was a religious group that said environmentalism went against their teachings as it spent money and resources that could be used for the poor instead of saving a doomed environment. But what many people fail to neglect is the concept of sustainable development, where environmentalism is meant to go hand in hand with the eradication of poverty, or the concept of the triple bottom line. If we do not protect the environment at all then somewhere down the road we destroy our livelihood and at the point we will have no capacity to help the poor of society. So at least in worldview both of these subjects must be taken into account in order to improve both poverty and the environment as they tend to go hand in hand in “developing” nations. As in one of my classes points out poverty can lead to environmental degradation which leads to further poverty in a vicious cycle, this is the whole theory behind the Kuznet’s curve that if the economic status of a nation increases so to do its environmental concerns.

    And I think that both the voicethread for this week and Dr. Kitron’s speak really summed up how our definition of environment will effect public health and medicine. Designating countries as developed or developing certainly effects what sort of medical care and what sort of resources/funding are available for treatment. The reading brought this up in the form of colonialism and colonial medicine, while the colonizers thought they were being beneficent to the subjugated, rather it created this system of structural violence where the natives could not obtain medical care or use their own natural resources as they were not entitled to them. Then I think Dr. Kitron gave us a sobering truth by stating that as medical professionals, we expect our studies and research to have some profound effect on the health of the population, but in all reality they likely won’t. You must have community buy in and you need a conducive and trusting environment for any public health initiative to take root. For instance when Dr. Kitron said that even though his studies could be able to identify significant ways to reduce the incidence of certain Neglected Tropical Diseases, the community is uninterested as it is not their primary health related concern.

    And the way we define environment certainly effects how we practice and research health. As Dr. Kitron put it we have zero idea how climate change will effect emerging infectious diseases of communicable diseases in general as there are so many environmental and human variables that need to be taken into account if we are going to be able to properly assess the situation. And then the way you define an environment, say rural versus urban, will drastically change what sort of diseases that are of primary concern or what kind of vectors are present that will transmit diseases. As research has progressed it has become abundantly clear that not only do humans have an effect on the biosphere , but also that it has some major effects on our health and livelihood. Though the particular definition of environment that medical research will dictate what sort of variables and underlying causes you are trying to identify; the human and natural environment are invaluable in our approach to health, especially now in a time of climate uncertainty.

  4. Emily Pieper says:

    I certainly believe that the environment plays a major role in the practice of medicine and public health. The environment can be defined in so many different ways depending on the context within which it is being considered. Environments vary geographically speaking, from countries to cities to individual households. However, the term “environment” cannot be limited to describe merely geographic locations as it also refers to the environment of the body or the environment of culture.

    To tie in Dr. Patterson’s concept of “place”, the environment of an area is determined by its place. Place includes the obvious, physical features of an area but also the more subtle cultural practices that define a region. As Akanksha mentioned in her comment, Dr. Kitron’s explanation of schistosomiasis among a population in Kenya beautifully illustrates this concept of place. To an outside observer, it would appear a mystery as to why males were more susceptible to schistosomiasis than females. However, upon examining the cultural practices of that place it becomes easier to attribute these discrepancies in disease to differences in gender roles, specifically water use, among males and females.

    How we choose to define the environment greatly influences our knowledge of the environment, and consequently the practice of public health and medicine. As mentioned in the Mitman article, it is essential for medical practitioners to be knowledgeable about the influence historical events, such as colonialism, has had and continues to have on the environments of health and disease among different places today. In order to provide better healthcare, medical professionals must provide culturally appropriate, place-based healthcare. Taking into account the environmental variances that exist throughout different populations and cultures will enable public health practitioners to deliver more effective medicine and care.

  5. Courtni Alexis Andrews says:

    While I do not agree that being aware of the environment is a bad thing that leads to neglect, I can agree with critics in that we sometimes miss the mark and neglect people, rather than including people in the study of environments. As it was illustrated in the theme of place, I think ideally, environment should be understood in its all boundaries. Knowing a place means knowing the culture, the languages, the customs, the people, the local eateries, the places to go for fun, the sociocultural history – all elements that embody and establish an environment. Furthermore, this also ties into attitude, culture, gender, race and social norms in determining the emotional or psychological effects that the environment and place can have. If we look at only a few aspects of an environment though, we may do more harm than good. As it was illustrated in the Political Economy of Health, “the diseases of underdevelopment, and high morality rates which accompany them, are not somehow, a natural, and therefore inevitable part of life.” These consequences were caused by choices and radically changed the environment for people. Our environment is tied to many elements, thereby influencing and crafting our health, so to ignore people is a step in the wrong direction. It’s not simply about leaving a place to find something more “natural”either – rather, we should aim to understand why our environments have become the way they have and eliciting changes by ethically and universally being inclusive and innovative. Otherwise, the stereotype of people caring about more certain things more than people or vice versa will remain a source of tension. Thus, it is why the study of environment is a definite must for understanding public health and medicine. It’s not about looking backwards to be glad a terrible part of history is gone – it’s moreso important to acknowledge history by looking at the past and present to forge a better future. In addition, it’s extremely important that we consider all organisms in our evaluation of place in order to make sure everything and everyone can thrive together. Without that, we’re again missing the mark.

  6. Kayleigh Jo Moss says:

    I think the biggest factors in how we care for our environment is economic impact. We make decisions based on survival and personal benefit. In Brazil, farmers are cutting down thousands of acres of rainforest each year to make a profit in soy bean farming. The country does not have any regulations to protect the trees and farmers are more concerned with providing for their families than with the consequential effects on global warming and harm to the environment. Various environmental groups and labs have begun paying farmers not to cut down trees in an effort to preserve the rain forests. Many breakthrough drugs come out of rare plants found in rainforests, so scientists are making an effort to preserve potential resources by paying farmers for rights to use their land and keep the rainforests intact. Success varies case by case and depends on the benefit for farmers. Without the right incentives, we cannot convince a farmer trying to provide for his family that he should sacrifice profits in hopes that a treatment may be found for some disease he has never even heard of. Likewise, global warming and environmental impact has no bearing on his decision to expand his farm. He only sees the economic effects of his actions. (Rosenthal)

    Our definition of environment definitely impacts the way it is incorporated into public health and medicine, but, more importantly, the significance we place on the definition will define the way we act as a result. Brazilians may see their land as a resource for the cure of disease and a means of protecting our global environment, but if they do not find value in that, then there is no incentive for them to preserve their land. Likewise, a family in Kenya may be aware that their interaction with the environment exposes them to schistosomiasis, but they see no incentive to changing their practices because they need the water more than they need to protect themselves.

    I am reminded of our discussions on place. The value that one finds in a place will impact the future of that place. People see the rainforests as valuable for many different reasons. Some see economic opportunities in farming while others see an opportunity for research and medical breakthroughs. Still others see value in simple preservation of land and wildlife and the impact on the global climate should the rainforests be destroyed. One may view the environment as having an impact on public health, but, unless it affects them personally, they will likely see little value in taking the necessary actions to protect themselves or the environment in which they live.

    The current environmentalist approach to sustainability, in my opinion, is futile until they find a way to incorporate the community (the people affected by the environment) in their work. People have to see value in preserving the environment. It has to affect their livelihood, their priorities, and their “place.” Public health and the environment must go hand in hand for true success in either.

  7. Lauren Maryse McNaughton says:

    I find this argument that an increase in concern for the environment will lead to a decrease in concern for the poor to be a bit bizarre. I find this bizarre because not only do we, and especially many of the poorer countries around the world, depend of the “environment” in terms of the land, but we as humans are also a part of the environment we live in. It seems as if people who are making this point are viewing the environment and humanity as two separate entities. Based on all we have learned so far in this course, there is a great deal of evidence that would suggest this is not the case.

    When using the term “environment” to refer to nature and the land, the environment is a key part of our lives; especially the lives of those in poorer countries and areas. Many people in these countries rely on the land for basic survival, as a way to earn money, and even to fight for rights. A great example of this is Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement. Not only did this movement focus on preserving the land in Kenya by planting trees and fighting to protect the land, but this movement also helped fight for women’s rights in that country. Therefore, by protecting and tending to the land, the people benefited from it. If the environment was destroyed and a figure such a Maathai did not push to preserve it, many of what was accomplished by the Green Belt Movement may not have even been possible.

    While the benefits of the environment to the survival of many are clear, an even more important point to make is that the environment is more than the land, but it includes everything around us- including ourselves. When we support and care for our environment, everything in that environment reaps the benefits. When we neglect our environment as a whole, the environment is at risk for changes we may not be able to handle. Dr. Kitron mentioned how urbanization can lead to a variety of changes, ranging from differences in the weather to the emerging of diseases. It is important to be aware of how certain actions will impact the environment and everything in it.

    As discussed above, how we define “environment” definitely impacts how we approach many parts of life; including medicine and health. I believe there will always be consequences when we look at ourselves and our environment as filling different realms that are not as connected as they really are. This applies to people in the hospital setting and the bodies of patients as well. Therefore, I believe the most appropriate way to refer to the environment would be similar to how Dr. Patterson referred to place. The different places we go to and live in are the places we, and others, inhabit. These places are valuable and important to the lives of those we know; therefore, they must be treated with respect and with how it will affect others in mind.

  8. Amelia Elizabeth Van Pelt says:

    As discussed in Dr. Bobbi Patterson’s lecture about the concept of place, one can classify an area as natural or constructed. For example, one can view humans as inhabitants and members of an environment or as outsiders interacting with an environment. The aforementioned dichotomy illustrates the differences in the definition of the term “environment”. Regardless of the definition, however, the environment influences health, for both interactions between flora and humans and interpersonal human interactions affect the risk of disease. Although the environment influences many aspects of public health and medicine, to follow Dr. Kitron’s lecture, I will focus on infectious diseases and zoonotic diseases.

    To begin with, the stated critic of radical environmentalism suggests that the environment does not include humans. Instead, it gives the impression that humans interact with the environment. Therefore, I do not agree that the neglect for the human poor increases with an increase in concern about environmentalism. For example, environmentalism aims to protect the environment (non-human elements such as trees). Thus, environmentalists would not condone deforestation. As discussed in class, deforestation decreases biodiversity. Furthermore, with the reduction in mosquito or snail species, for instance, stronger species will emerge. As a result, the risk of transmission of malaria from mosquitoes and schistosomiasis from snails will increase. As the reading for this week articulates, developing countries experience higher rates of infectious diseases. Therefore, by protecting the environment against deforestation, environmentalists are actually improving the health of the human poor in the developing countries by decreasing the risk of prevalent infectious diseases.

    Furthermore, urbanization often results from deforestation, and urbanization leads to many health problems. For example, crowded urban areas increase the risk of transmission of infectious diseases. In addition, the development of an urban city in a developing country provides an opportunity for a confluence of disease pools. For instance, the city will encourage tourism and attract individuals from around the world. As a result, people may become exposed to an endemic disease or may bring another disease to the country, which increases the risk of infection for the non-immune, as illustrated in the discussion about colonialism. Thus, an environmentalist perspective of humans interfering with the “environment” ultimately leads to detrimental effects of “environmental” interactions, meaning those between humans.

    Moreover, one’s definition of the environment influences the perception of the relationship between humans, ecology, and health. Nonetheless, one cannot deny that interactions with the “environment”, in the all-encompassing term, often increase the risk of disease in a population. Thus, public health and medical professionals should consider all aspects of an environment when studying and practicing their respective fields.

  9. Lucky Khambouneheuang says:

    In concurrence with Matthew, I believe that environmental concerns and human poverty are not tradeoffs but rather instead convolutedly intertwined. In many regards, though not often emphasized, environmental issues such as global warming and tropical diseases impact human health. Taking both physical and social definitions, environments often have a unique history–colonialism for instance–that is key for understanding the inhabitants of the place.

    In short, yes–how a person emphasizes and defines the environment influences whether that person accounts environment an important aspect of the global health community plan or patient story. For example, physicians often tend to treat the immediate issues through clinical patient interactions. As my own critique, these physicians are only treating the symptoms and not the bigger underlying source that may be bound to the environment. Public health experts nonetheless do a better job recognizing that environmental issues are different angles of approaching human health and medicine.

    By understanding the impact of environment on human health, we revisit the motif of how socially constructed disease truly is that Dr. Garland Thompson first introduced in her lecture with disability. Different places and environments face different diseases and livelihood struggles. Another connected example about the importance of environment that comes to mind is Dr. Quave and the use of traditional, natural medicinal plants to heal a variety of ailments. In sum, how a person understand environment in the context of health significantly influences the treatment and approach to effective care.

  10. Olha Seredyuk says:

    Both environmental degradation and poverty alleviation are critical global issues that have a lot in common, but for a long time have been treated separately. I think there has been a gap in communication between all the actors and institutions related to poverty and environment; this gap has led to ambiguous and unsuccessful development interactions. Environmentalism that ignores humanity as an integral part of the solution, and vice versa, will do nothing for the progress of both. The two issues cannot be resolved if they are addressed in isolation and will only exacerbate global problems.

    I think that the argument of critics makes some sense. For example, a major NGO may be so concerned with unclean water and lack of sanitation in the city of Accra, Ghana, that public latrines may be introduced to a poor neighborhood within the city, but the people living there may be required to pay to use them. One important point I want to make is that community needs are usually socially and culturally determined, and new technology might not necessarily be a good long-term solution. Another example – how do you change the behavior of farmers in Panama on irrigation? The water they irrigate with now from open drains may be contaminated, but it’s after all free and convenient, compared to piped, municipally maintained water. The more developed countries of the world may argue that access to water (or insert another precious resource) is a human right, but often that language carries with it the presumption that said resource should be free. Where do you draw the line with the world’s poor? Who pays for them? Cue another ethical debate… Perhaps it’s easier to talk about human rights than to invest in them.

    How we define “environment” influences how we approach health interventions. For instance, taking cue from Dr. Kitron’s lecture on multi-vector zoonoses, there are almost too many factors to measure in order to produce a “successful” intervention. What also comes to mind is the painting by Carlo Levi, introduced in Week 7 (Nature and Local Traditions). Levi painted a depiction of the Southern Italian environment as a blurring of public and private spaces. A lot of life in that painting is happening on the streets – while children are sleeping, a goat is defecating, one mother is nursing, while another is cooking. These activities are all happening simultaneously. Even if you have great interventions for human contamination, those interventions may not work for animal contamination – and both can cause human health risks. Which or how many exposure pathways does one need to cut for a decrease in disease transmission and improvement of health (maybe in humans, not necessarily in others sharing same environment), and how do you choose which ones to tackle first? I think one important thing to realize is that environment is something that is always changing. Ultimately, the abilities of understanding histories and making informed choices to handle and transform change are what matters to the adoption of comprehensive approaches needed to tackle the multi-level issues that have an impact on human health.

  11. Kyle Arbuckle says:

    Yes the way we define environment should influence how it ought to be studied. As carefully demonstrated in the presentation this week, the environment is a result of centuries of molestation, not just new practices. As we saw in last week’s presentation on the issue in Minnesota, longstanding practices do not just die. The world is not just going to stop using oil. Systemic issues must be handled systematically. You eliminate the need for oil, people do not use oil, and so on.

    In terms of the poor, we must realize they are simply trying to make a living. I am assuming that in part this question is directed at those in the poorer nations that sort harmful (to people and environment) waste. We must realize they are not necessarily the ones to blame, but the structures that have been put into place, and the systematic way the land has been damaged beforehand.

    This plays into the definition of environment. People inhabit environments, and I know many indigenous peoples around the world try to give back to the environment as much as they take, and this is how I view environmentalism. Sadly, due to capitalism and profit we will always exploit the land, and even sadder it takes telling companies they will make more of a profit using sustainable methods. But in a capitalist world, the environment is viewed as profit, not as the place we live in. So we change the way we view the environment. It is obviously not an infinite money pool, and by destroying it we are destroying ourselves.

  12. Farida says:

    Critics of radical environmentalism may say that as our concern for the environment increases, our neglect for the human poor increases as well. I think a problem with the way we utilize the earth’s resources, and how it is allocated is the most significant issue in this debate. If we are to define the environment as a local environment versus a greater worldly environment, the way we study and practice medicine and public health also changes. Local plants, as studied by Dr. Cassandra Quave, serve as not only food, but potential medicines to be used worldwide.

    In Dr. Kitron’s lecture, we learned how the environment also affects the types of diseases that manifest and transmit. In these examples, I think it’s important to study public health and medicine differently based on where the outbreak or treatment presents itself. Tropical diseases are neglected in areas outside of the tropics. Because leading Western professionals are not directly impacted by these diseases, there is little attention to solving such issues. Studying public health means making locale-specific decisions. Interventions and treatments do not work the same in all places because of differences in climate, geography, culture, livelihood, religion, and other factors. An anthropological perspective, just like Dr. Kitron mentioned, is necessary when approaching medicine and public health.

  13. Jennifer Becerra says:

    To answer the second question, yes I believe that the way we define “environment” influence how it is incorporated in medicine and public health. In many ways I feel like the definition of environment depends on place. Just as Dr. Patterson said in her lecture a few weeks ago “the way we perceive things, is the way we will attend it”. If we perceive environment as territorial, then the concerns will fall more towards how humans can use the environment in a more suitable manner. Therefore programs that focus on sustainable living are created. On the other hand If we perceive environment as landscape, then we may be more inclined to preserve the “natural” beauty. Therefore creating programs that protect the plants and animals from humans.

    On the note of what critics argue, I agree with Olha in that it does make some sense. And just as she mentioned a possible thing that may occur is that an NGO may go into a community and implement a new technology that can aid a community. The new technology however costs money to make and install, so they may charge the people to use it. Like in any place, there will be people who can afford it but also some who can’t. In that situation where do they draw the line as to who can use the technology? Also by charging people to use it are they defeating the purpose of installing the technology in the first place? Another example when the city decides to fence up a public park. By doing this they are protecting the plants and animals that live in the park, but at the same time they are potentially closing off a bed for a homeless person. Then the question what is more important focusing on the environment or on financially unstable people? I also think that the argument makes sense to some extent, because at the same time by focusing on the environment NGO’s and organizations are making sure that our ecosystem is well kept so we can continue using its resources for years to come. In totality if there is no environment then humans cannot exist. Therefore by focusing on the environment, organizations are also second-handedly aiding the financially unstable.

  14. MacKenzie Jill Brosnahan says:

    I believe that the environment plays an important role in public health and medicine, but I cannot completely discount the critics’ argument and point of view. On the one hand, keeping the environment “healthy” and taking care of it to make sure we have livable conditions certainly helps public health and medicine move forward. Doing so allows us to have a place that can harbor healthy living and sustain human life. Without some sort of conservation efforts, we may not have enough resources to stay healthy. For instance, without sustainable efforts to keep water clean, we could pollute our water to the point where we would run out of drinkable water. This would certainly harm WASH efforts and encourage illness, disease, and despair in all living beings. Efforts that focus on sustaining habitats and ecosystems move to keep a balance of the nature that is living in a given place. As we discussed in class, the disturbance of a natural ecosystem by humans or human impact can have serious affects on the ecosystem – and important to this discussion, on human health. If humans move into a wooded area where deer and ticks are natural inhabitants, there is a disturbance of the cycle and tick can accidentally attack onto humans causing cases of Lyme disease.

    On the other hand, I can sort of see where the claim is coming from when they said that increases in environmental concern can have a negative impact on poor people. In an effort to conserve water, let’s say, we increase prices to decrease unnecessary use. This could leave the poor, who may be barely able to access water at a lower price, unable to purchase fresh, clean water. In turn, they could end up either dehydrated or getting water from an unclean source and eventually getting ill. Another example of how the poor could be pushed to the side or neglected with increased efforts of conservation would be in terms of land. Let’s say that we have people living on a Native American Indian reservation. They are relatively poor compared to many others in the US. What has always been considered their home, place, environment, has just been declared under protection – it is not part of a national forest and they are forced to move. In this case, their place that they’ve called home has been taken away in order to improve conservation of land. So, I can certainly see where sometimes conservation can go too far, but overall it is an important and integral part of both medicine and public health.

  15. Aisha Omolola Morafa says:

    I believe that anything radical is obviously able to neglect other things, and though I believe compassion for the environment is valiant, I also believe that the “place” isn’t simply limited to the topography. An environment also involves all the inhabitants: the plants, animals and humans. In an attempt to improve the low socioeconomic environment, sometimes people will look either at the location or the people as a singular problem, rather than a way to improve both simultaneously because they are connected with each other.

    I think that since we associate a more lush landscape or natural areas with environments, we sometimes forget that manmade environments need to be maintained as well. And if we do think of manmade environments, when it comes to public heath and medicine, it’s more in the mindset that it needs to be used to fix the area. It’s a more invasive mindset, instead of a positive light. I think one way to fix this is to immerse the health care providers into the environment they work in, observe and understand the communities they wish to help and create a more trusting relationship. This way it can make both the health care provider and the patient to be more inclined to maintain their medical improvements, rather than a short-term fix.

    I believe that this should first been done in our local communities before going overseas. As Kitron talked about in connection to the readings from last week, the idea of a global south and impoverished countries are tied together. The poor people can’t take care of the environment and the environment can’t provide for the poor. If we can’t help the ecosystem in the US, how can we believe we can do a long-term medicinal good in other places? I think that when we incorporate a mind-shift in the healthcare system, we can better handle epidemics just as Ebola or influenza. I think the short-term fixes we do are necessary, but more importantly a long-term prevention project will help more people longer. These are just a few ideas to incorporate health with environmental actions.

Leave a Reply