Reflections on Unnatural Causes

Several of us attended Unnatural Causes on Wednesday, and were offered an eye-opening look at what it means to be healthy (or not) in this country. All too often, the easy culprit for disparities in health is healthcare coverage, and the ongoing debate around healthcare seems to have no end in sight.

Unnatural Causes demonstrated that how healthy you are and how long you are going to live can be clearly determined by what neighborhood you live in, your economic class and how educated you are.

The film showed extensive studies Louisville has done by districts to show that the lower income districts were more likely to have diabetes, heart issues, etc. Realizing many of the factors were higher stress (with no outlet to relieve it unlike higher income families have the money and time to take vacations, etc.), no grocery stores close so the easiest, cheaper, closer option was fast food, etc. Health is very much environmental, even stemming to studies done about people who had “stressful” childhoods – their parents worrying about making ends meet, etc. they were more likely to have health issues.

In short, it’s not just about healthcare, but that health, education, financial stability are interrelated and contribute to being healthy and having a long life.

It was clearly evident from the film and following discussion that it is in all of our best interests to bring about greater health equity in the community–healthy Central Texans are less of a tax burden and healthcare liability to their employers, thereby making our economy stronger.

The question of more funding for healthcare coverage often ultimately results in simply throwing money at (or putting a band-aid on) a problem rather than addressing its root causes. However, change can be effected at the policy level, statewide and locally. When looking for solutions, advocacy for policy change becomes very important.

What’s more, anyone can become an advocate.

Do you care about seeing policy initiatives that ensure greater equality of health in Central Texas? Then, be sure to research candidates before you vote–even Austin City Council members! Stay informed of related upcoming bills and laws. Email and call your city and state representatives to let them know that you are paying attention to how they vote and that you care about this issue.

Dr. Sanchez was an amazing facilitator and the panel members were varied in specialty offering a lot for the audience to think about. The audience was comprised of a great mix of people, as usual, with varying views. We thank everyone who joined us Wednesday night, and hopefully, this is just the beginning of making a change in Central Texas.

Were you there? We’d like to hear your thoughts on the film and discussion, and what you think needs to be done to ensure greater equality of health in Central Texas. Please offer any comments you have.

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