UNDERSTANDING THE STATE OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Arguably the greatest threat to contemporary public health according to many public health officials is the prevalence of COVID-19. Pandemic life has unpredictable ebbs and flows, overwhelming hospitals and sparking reactions ranging from fear to public outrage and science denial. All the while, many states are cutting back lifesaving public health orders and patient treatment strategies despite warnings from some of the most prominent doctors of epidemiology in the world. Facing an overburdened medical system and burnout, many health care professionals and social workers instrumental in treating these populations are abandoning their practice and dropping out of the workforce as patient care suffers in health care centers around the country. Disparate notions of liberty, freedom, public health, and social responsibility are exacerbating a health crisis long in the making, with the biggest impacts on marginalized groups, including immigrants and communities of color. Gale Case Studies: Public Health Issues content helps university students get a historical assessment of the profound events of the past year and their impact on these groups.
FINDING RELEVANCE IN CONTEMPORARY DISCOURSE
Gale Case Studies: Public Health Issues delves into the history of the United States' public health campaigns, programs, and resources beginning in the early twentieth century into current times. It provides insight into how public policy impacted health issues for all Americans, but especially marginalized populations like immigrants and minority groups. Case studies, such as The Children's Bureau and Communicable Diseases, offer content focused on how poverty has impacted these issues, while the case studies on sex and sexuality and mental health discuss how these topics have come out of the shadows and taken their rightful place as part of health education. More importantly, case studies such as Alcoholism and Drug Addiction and Social and National Health Insurance show how topics, including substance use disorders, that were relevant in the past continue to be relevant in modern American society, and how certain groups of Americans are impacted by them more than others.
Standing on its own, each case study is a suitable lesson for users to learn about the issues in America's public health history. However, when the case studies are combined, they provide a holistic assessment of how U.S. public health policy has evolved over the years. For example, the Smoking and Cancer case study combined with the Preventing Non-Communicable Diseases case study and the Health Policy case study allow users to understand the evolution of health education of diseases such as cancer and how the medical community educated society on these diseases throughout the twentieth century. Brochures, reports, posters, and other primary sources provide users with firsthand accounts of these policies and show how they have evolved into the twenty-first century.
ACCELERATING PUBLIC HEALTH THREATS
As the coronavirus rages on, stay-at-home orders, along with other measures this past year, have put many out of the marginalized work, particularly in the service industry, resulting in mass unemployment. The situation leaves vast swaths of the patient population uninsured and without treatment options, negatively impacting already strained family life. Without access to health care and proper medical assessment, many in the patient population go untreated for these conditions or are forced to go without lifesaving treatments or prescription drugs needed to treat their conditions, further impacting public health.
Critical family support systems, social programs, community centers, and resources have been turned upside down as schools and social workers scramble to provide outreach to adolescent students dependent upon federal lunch programs and daycare centers for sustenance and safety in structured classroom routines. To make a clear assessment of the evolution of America’s health care system and its impact on marginalized groups, Gale Case Studies reaches beyond these circumstances to help students at the university level make critical connections between contemporary events and ongoing disparities in public health.
Editor in Chief: William Douglas Evans, Professor, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University