War's toll on public health
A University of Washington conference on global health broadens its scope to take in war's toll on the public's health.
GLOBAL-HEALTH leaders in Seattle this weekend lend much-needed attention and focus to one aspect of war going largely unnoticed: its impact on civilians.
Vigorous reporting and attention has yielded an impressive chronicling of war's toll on soldiers. Sobering statistics about physical and psychological suffering provide a blueprint for military spending on health care, from active-duty personnel to veterans.
A comparable effort on the civilian side of war does not exist. Public policy and funding has yet to grasp war's heavy toll on non-soldiers as a public-health problem.
Smart minds at the University of Washington's Department of Global Health and the Physicians for Social Responsibility appropriately seek to change that. The facts are on their side. War causes more death and disability than many major diseases combined, underscoring the need for targeted action and policy.
It makes sense that the two organizations would make the health effects of war the focus of the 8th Annual Western Regional International Health Conference this weekend at UW's campus.
Interesting seminar topics lend themselves to thoughts about humanitarian aid and health, the public-health imperative of eliminating nuclear weapons and the environmental impacts of war.
Peace is not the only answer participants will be seeking during the conference. Perspectives and solutions on global health should broaden beyond diseases to include the impact on health and health-care facilities when a country or community is embroiled in war.
Emerging from the conference ought to be a greater awareness and accountability for reducing violence as a public-health practice. Another benefit is the lift to peace studies as an emerging arena for people in the global-health field.
Those tasked with addressing the public's health correctly push for the true cost of war to include the toll on those outside the battlefield.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
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