KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Future of Public Health
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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Future of Public Health


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The covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on public health, a key part of the health care system that usually operates in the background. Public health has, over the past century, helped ensure that Americans have clean water to drink, untainted food to eat and vaccines that have helped obliterate once-common deadly diseases.

But like other issues related to the pandemic, public health has become politicized and controversial, leading some public health officials to quit or retire. Some even have been physically threatened just for doing their jobs, trying to keep people healthy and safe.

KHN’s “What the Health?” podcast this week takes a deep dive into public health, its past and future. First, host Julie Rovner talks with Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, about the importance of public health.

Then panelists Joanne Kenen of Politico and Lauren Weber of KHN join Rovner for a discussion of public health’s prospects for the future.

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A series examining how the U.S. public health front lines have been left understaffed and ill-prepared to save us from the coronavirus pandemic. The project is a collaboration between KHN and the AP.

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Local health officials have become the face of government authority as they work to stem the pandemic. That has made them targets for chilling threats from some of the same militia groups that stormed the U.S. Capitol. Santa Cruz leaders are among those whose daily routines now incorporate security patrols, surveillance cameras and, in some cases, firearms.

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Hard Lessons From a City That Tried to Privatize Public Health

Facing bankruptcy, Detroit largely dismantled its public health department in 2012, and the city essentially went two years without a government-run public health system. Five years later, this major American city offers a grim cautionary tale.

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