Tag Archives: public health

Dr. Joycelyn Elders: an unwelcome prophet

Howard Fischer  Uppsala, Sweden   Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General. From the National Institutes of Health. Via Wikimedia. Public Domain. “No prophet is welcome in his hometown.” —The Gospel of Saint Luke, 4:24. New American Standard Bible   Joycelyn Elders, MD (b. 1933) was Surgeon General of the United States of America from 1993 […]

The germ of laziness

Enrique Chaves-Carballo Overland Park, Kansas, United States   Charles Wardell Stiles (1867-1941). Parasitologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Portrait ca. 1912. Wikimedia Commons Rockefeller Foundation The Rockefeller Foundation was chartered on June 1909 “to promote the well-being and to advance the civilization of the peoples of the United States and its territories and possessions and of […]

A wrong time to die

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Lockdown in Thessaloniki. Photo by the author. Death is the one absolute and unexceptional certainty in life. In the Bible we read that there is a time for everything, including a time to die [Ecclesiastes 3:2]. Is there ever a “right” time to die? Faced with such a question, we […]

Mortality data, risk probability, and the psychology of assent in the enlightenment smallpox debate

David Spadafora Pinehurst, North Carolina   Nicolas de Largillière, Portrait of Voltaire, ca. 1724. Source. The present health crisis is hardly the first to provoke significant controversy about preventing and treating widespread disease. Debate over epidemic-related data, its reliability, and its uses has a long history. So does concern about the psychological elements involved in […]

Milwaukee’s unlikely public health advocate

Lea Dacy Rochester, MN, United States   Upper left: The author’s mother, Rita Troiano, a year or so after the incident at the Sunflower Inn; Lower left: the author’s grandparents, Philip and Evelyn Troiano, ca. 1928, both from the author’s personal collection. Right: Helen Cromwell at the Sunflower Inn, Feral House Publishing, used with permission. […]

Occupational lung malignancies: role of malachite

Tamas F. Molnar Katalin Aknai Hungary   Jackson Pollock, Miners, ca. 1934-1938, lithograph on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1966.68. To this very day, malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) remains a serious oncologic, public health, and industrial challenge, a fatal disease in which standard chemotherapy with or without radiotherapy has done little to increase […]

Revisiting the “Trolley Problem” in the COVID-19 pandemic

Margaret B. Mitchell Boston, Massachusetts, United States Graham M. Attipoe  Nashville, Tennessee, United States   Bridge situation. John Holbo. 2010. CC BY-NC 2.0. Via Flickr The “Trolley Problem” Originally described by Philipa Foot in 1967, the “Trolley Problem” is an ethical dilemma commonly taught in philosophy that challenges participants to explore how far they would […]

COVID-19 and the Black Death

Colleen Donnelly  Denver, Colorado, United States   A street during the plague in London with a death cart and mourners. Colour wood engraving by E. Evans. Wellcome Library no. 6918i. Source During the fourteenth century waves of the bubonic plague washed across Europe. Doomsday books of the age described an apocalypse that wiped out one-quarter […]

Have we learned anything from 1918-1919 influenza?

Edward Winslow Wilmette, Illinois, United States   Actual daily deaths from influenza, September to November 1918. Monthly Bulletin of the Department of Health, December 1918. NYC Municipal Library. Source.  The 2020 viral pandemic (COVID-19),1 in spite of being caused by a novel virus family, bears striking epidemiological and social resemblance to the influenza pandemic of 1918.2 […]

A surgeon and a gentleman: the life of James Barry

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   Dr. James Barry with John, a servant, and his dog, Psyche. Unknown Artist. c1850.   “Do not consider whether what I say is a young man speaking, but whether my discussion with you is that of a man of understanding.”1 – Dedication of the thesis of James Barry In November of 1809, […]