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Policymakers Should Approach Health From Larger, ‘Planetary’ Scale

POLITICO: Health at a planetary scale
Howard Frumkin, physician, professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health, and member of the steering committee of the Planetary Health Alliance; and Samuel Myers, physician, senior research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and director of the Planetary Health Alliance

“…While human health is now, by most metrics, better than it’s ever been, ongoing planetary changes threaten to reverse that progress. These threats require a new approach to health research and health policy — a new paradigm that has come to be called ‘planetary health.’… Planetary health asserts that human beings cannot thrive over time while degrading the ecological life support systems that sustain us. Like traditional public health, it defines health broadly, including physical, mental, and social well-being; it considers health not just as an individual attribute, but across entire populations; and it pays special attention to those who are most vulnerable. However, it works at large scales … It rejects the false dichotomy of people vs. nature and holds that to protect people, we must protect natural systems. … Ultimately, if the insights of planetary health are going to yield their full benefits, it will fall to policymakers to think big — to see the connections among issues such as natural resource management, energy, agriculture, and urban development, and to place human health and well-being at the center of their decisions…” (9/13).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.