Why the eff don’t people vaccinate their kids? Why is there no “War on Drugs” coming for the opioid manufacturers? And who cares what Gwyneth Paltrow thinks about cancer? (Well, actually a lot of people, sadly.) As a doctor, epidemiologist, and a Detroit’s former City Health Director, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about health—learning about the cellular physiology under the hood of disease and contending with the public conversations that shape how we, as a society, deal with it.
That public conversation matters a lot right now. With a president who deprives so many critical issues of oxygen with outrageous scandals and a noisy twitter feed, we often forget about the things that really matter in government.
One of those things is public health. But even when we do get around to talking about health, we kinda miss the point. Our health conversation has become dominated by politics or personalities trying to sell us stuff. It’s lost track of what’s important—rigorous science and competent government partnering up to deliver for us all.
That’s what public health is. And it’s struggling right now. Life expectancy is down for the third year in a row. Big Pharma seems more interested in selling us dope than figuring out how to cure superbugs. And low-income, predominantly black communities like Flint and Detroit, MI, are suffering astounding rates of lead poisoning and infant mortality.
The good news is that public health has the potential to unite us. At a time when just about everything we think about and experience everyday seems designed to divide us, health is one of the very few things that ALL of us have to think about. All of us have loved ones who are ill. All of us are concerned about people we don’t know who are suffering. All of us have health concerns of our own—or will some day.
That’s because all people get sick, whether in devastating, or commonplace, or just plain weird ways. America Dissected is a podcast that explores what happens when we do—where our cells meet our society, and for a moment, we all pay attention.
Here, we’ll look beyond the headlines and behind the scenes at some of the important health stories of the past decade. We’ll talk to everyone—from the people who are affected by illness and bad public health policy, to the experts working on the front lines to solve some of America’s biggest health problems. We’ll examine both science and society to understand the dynamics that created the headlines—and look ahead to what comes next.