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World Health Organization

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Although gangs and gang violence have been reconceived in recent years as a public health problem requiring systemic cures---there is far less agreement on what those cures might be. While transforming the community conditions that produce gang violence is the purported goal for policy makers in Los Angeles, there is little consensus about what strategy or group of strategies are best suited to achieve this goal.

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When it comes to climate change, the most important impacts of the emissions from our cars, power plants and factories are likely to be broad and indirect. Global warming needs to be examined not just from the perspective of medicine, but from public health.

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The World Health Organization today declared swine flu to be the first global pandemic since 1968, raising its pandemic flu alert to"phasesix" on a six-point scale. Careful with the definitions: while the disease caused by the H1N1 virus is considered to be moderate, swine flu is considered to be unstoppable and countries are urged to come up with long-term plans for combating its spread.

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A story today out of Nigeria had me thinking about my interview with Father William Cleary last month.

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Every few decades, a flu pandemic spreads westward from Asia. The last one, in 1968, was relatively mild - and we have yet to see the full damage caused by the swine flu outbreak. But the next pandemic is inevitable - and it’s likely to come from China.

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The World Health Organization has just raised its for swine flu pandemic alert level to Level 5, its second highest, signaling that a global pandemic is imminent.

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Public health officials are increasingly concerned about a possible pandemic amid reports of hundreds of new cases of swine flu in Mexico that have killed up to 60 people. Eight swine flu cases have been reported in the United States, in California and Texas. Mexican authorities are taking drastic measures to contain the swine flu outbreak, closing schools and universities in Mexico City.

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Although some international health indicators have improved substantially in the last decade, poverty, conflict, lack of access to health care and/or education, poor sterilization techniques, evolving human migration patterns, unsafe water, new infectious agents and changing development activities all contribute to what seems a dismal global health climate.

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Dr. Susan Fernyak is deputy health officer for San Francisco and director of the Department of Public Health's Communicable Disease Control and Prevention section. Her section is responsible for epidemiology, surveillance and disease control, immunization programs and bioterrorism preparedness and response. As director, she has managed San Francisco's smallpox vaccination program and the city and county's response to SARS.

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Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, professor of internal medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine, is the acting chair of the National Mental Health Association. In 2003, he was invited by then U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson to serve on the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institute of Mental Health.

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The pandemic is far from over but crucial COVID-19 protections and benefits are gone. In our next webinar, we'll explore the end of renter protections, unemployment benefits and other emergency relief, and what it means for the nation’s pandemic recovery and the health and well-being of low-income people and their communities. Glean story ideas and crucial context. Sign-up here!

Are you passionate about helping journalists understand and illuminate the social factors that contribute to health and health disparities at a time when COVID-19 has highlighted the costs of such inequities? Looking to play a big role in shaping journalism today in the United States?  Apply now for one of our positions. 

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