Episode Information

Is Inequality Making Us Sick?
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
Aired:
03/24/2008
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In this episode:

Unnatural Causes goes in search of where poverty leads to poor health outcomes

 

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52:11 minutes (25.06 MB)
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Baker Salsbury, Health Director for the Ledgelight Health District: Photo By Chion WolfBaker Salsbury, Health Director for the Ledgelight Health District: Photo By Chion WolfA new PBS Documentary* explores the uncomfortable fact that economic status greatly affects a person's health and longevity.

Unnatural Causes asks the question: Is inequality making us sick? It goes in search of neighborhoods where poverty leads to poor health outcomes - and a life expectancy nearly 10 years shorter than in other neighborhoods - and meets the people affected. We'll talk with producer Llew Smith about what local health departments and individuals can do.

Then, Health Director Baker Salsbury examines how Connecticut researchers are measuring this same problem in our neighborhoods. The data is broken down to a block by block assessment of health outcomes. One of the premises of the project: That health disparities are immoral and should be corrected.

To see pictures of Where We Live's in-studio guests, please go to our Flickr page.

*Starting on Thursday, March 27 at 10 p.m., Unnatural Causes will air on four consecutive Thursdays on CPTV.  

You can contact us via email at wherewelive@wnpr.org.


 

email to wherewelive@wnpr.org

Infant mortality is a serious problem in the United States, especially among African-Americans, for whom the rate is about 14 per 1000, compared to 6 per 1000 for whites and 7 per 1000 for all US inhabitants. Accordingly, it is disappointing that one of your guests, Lou Smith, the maker of a recent documentary on health inequalities, has called into question the credibility of his research by making such claims as "infant mortality is not a problem in West Africa."

According to the World Bank, among the world's 212 countries in 2005, the country with the highest infant mortality rate on the planet was the West African nation of Sierra Leone, where the infant mortality rate in 2005 was 165 per 1000. Infant mortality was almost as bad in several other West African countries: in fact, of the 21 countries in the world with 2005 infant mortality rates higher than 100 per 1000, seven were in West Africa, a far higher percentage than any other region of Africa (or the world): Sierra Leone (165/1000), Liberia (157/1000), Guinea-Bissau (124/1000), Equatorial Guinea (123/1000), Mali (120/1000), Ivory Coast (118/1000), and Nigeria (100/1000).

In making his claim about infant mortality in West Africa, Mr. Smith was trying to support an argument that US Blacks are no more genetically predisiposed than US Whites to infant mortality.

Mr. Smith's argument about US Blacks having no particular "genetic predisposition" to infant mortality is, I believe, entirely correct.

The problem is that the credibility of this correct claim about Blacks not being genetically predisposed to infant mortality is, unfortunately and perhaps dangerously, undermined by the demonstrably false assertion that infant mortality is "not a problem" in West Africa.

James McGuire