All across the country PBS is showing a documentary entitled “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? Unfortunately, Kansas City’s PBS affiliate (KCPT) has decided to show this program at 1 in the morning. That’s too bad because local viewers are missing out on learning why a significant cause of poor health may not simply be unlucky genes or bad health care habits.
This series sheds light on other aspects that can lead someone to have poor health. Being born into poverty, not having a job with good wages, lack of a high school education, no regular access to a car, living in a high crime area, living in a neighborhood without access to a quality grocery store nearby, working for a company that does not offer health care coverage, getting pregnant at a very young age, having a physical or mental disability, not speaking English, being a racial minority, lack of home ownership, living in a polluted area are all social determinants that can have a serious impact on one’s life expectancy. Experts in public health have known for years that these life conditions can cause chronic health disease and mortality that are distributed unequally to the people who live under these circumstances.
If you are awake at 1 AM on April 3, April 10 or April 17 tune in to KCPT – Channel 19 and let me know what you think about the program. Those of you with a VCR or DVR could also record the program and watch at a more convenient time. HCF hopes to have some events in the coming year to discuss this topic. If we are serious about improving health, we have to do a better job of addressing these important issues.