by revere cross-posted at Effect Measure

The Holiday Season is upon us so we won’t post daily on the Public Health Conversation series. But you can join in at any time, in two ways.  Effect Measure and The Pump Handle, the two blog sites hosting the discussion, have comment threads for each post.  You can make a comment at any time on any post.  If you want to see all the posts on this topic, just click the Progressive public health category on the left sidebar on Effect Measure.  We will put an appropriate tag on The Pump Handle posts as well.  If you have produced a more polished piece, send it by email to The Pump Handle. We will be posting some on the Front Page we think are especially pertinent to various points in the conversation.  Get your 15 minutes of fame!

We want people to be part of this conversation.  I know from my own experience it can be discouraging to leave a comment that seems to draw no response.  If you leave a couple of comments and no one seems to care, it is tempting to stop commenting.  But the comments really are read by people.  One of the most common reasons a comment doesn’t draw a response is that people agree with it and don’t have anything to add.  Comments people disagree with often draw responses, so be careful what you wish for!  Either way we hope you join the conversation by reading, responding, thinking or contributing.

Our image of the public health system is of a huge chess board, with pieces of all varieties (elaborate to simple), all ranks and status, and a huge range of inherent powers.  The rules are complicated and the moves made by unseen hands.  What we want to do here is take our arm and sweep it across the board, wiping it clean and starting over (metaphorically, of course).  We are asking fundamental questions about public health, what it is, what it’s for.  And it’s not just US public health.  We have readers on every continent (except maybe Antarctica).  Public health knows no borders.  So while there may be different views as to whether health is a Right or not, and I think that’s worth discussing, we aren’t interested here whether it is a Right under the US Constitution.  It’s not a legal question but a question about what we think our mission is in public health.  And when I say “we” I am including anybody who sees themselves as engaged in or interested in or working in public health.  I don’t care if you are the head of a hospital, a nurse, a homemaker, a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, a laborer.  If you have something to contribute, that’s the point. And most people who are genuinely concerned about public health will have something to contribute, even if it is agreement or disagreement with what someone else said.

Panning for gold in this muddy river will take time and patience.  We might go around in circles (although I hope they are at least ascending spirals) as we try to clarify our thoughts, examine proposals for their consequences, argue about basic concepts and words.  It’s hard work and frustrating.

But someone needs to do it sometime. Soon. Why not us, why not now?