Shift toward social determinants transforming public health work: Targeting causes of health disparities

Articles | June 16 2016

by Kim Krisberg

Several years ago, public health workers in Wayne County, Michigan, embarked on a new endeavor to tackle infant mortality, an issue that affected the community’s black newborns at more than twice the rate of white newborns.

But instead of looking to medicine for answers, workers headed upstream to confront social determinants that put black babies at a disadvantage long before conception occurs.

“We wanted to focus on education, employment, social isolation, structural racism — all those factors combined correlate to an unfavorable birth outcome and the chances of a child not celebrating his or her first birthday,” APHA member Mouhanad Hammami, MD, director of the Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness, told The Nation’s Health. “What happens from the time a girl is born to the time she has a child?” (Read more)