UNNATURAL CAUSES: Is Inequity Making Us Sick?
Is inequity making us sick? Find out in this four-hour documentary series scheduled to broadcast on Milwaukee Public Television, channels 10 and 36, during the months of March and April. This series investigates the social determinants of health. The UNNATURAL CAUSES series shows that there is much more to our health than bad habits, health care, or unlucky genes. The social conditions in which we are born, live and work profoundly affect our health and longevity.
The US spends more than twice per person on health care than any other industrialized country, yet American life expectancy ranks 29th in the world and ranks 31st in infant mortality (2007 UN Human Development Report; CIA World Factbook, Nov. 15, 2007). Although Milwaukee is the 17th largest city in the nation, Milwaukee ranks 7th worst among US largest cities in Infant Mortality and 2nd worst for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (2007 Big Cities Health Inventory). Both rankings translate into real individual and family emotional stress and economic loss, which compounds the already devastating reality and can lead to continued poor health outcomes.
Poverty has been identified as a major determinant for health. Over one third of Wisconsin's poor children live in the City of Milwaukee. Milwaukee ranked fourth highest among US cities on the child poverty rate (US Census Bureau, 2004 American Community Survey). Within the City of Milwaukee, large health disparities exist among geographic regions with different socioeconomic status. Regions in Milwaukee with lower socioeconomic status were found to have higher levels of poverty, relative lack of education, much higher population density, and lower median income. There is a strong association between these sociodemographic differences and poor health outcomes. (Vila, P.; Swain, G.; Baumgardner, D; Halsmer, S.; Remington, P. & Cisler, R. Health Disparities in Milwaukee by Socioeconomic Status. Wisconsin Medical Journal 2007, Volume 106, No.7).
The causes for these devastating statistics are complex. UNNATURAL CAUSES uses real stories, from across the country, to help demonstrate how social determinants of health like poverty, education levels and access to housing can be a powerful predictor to health outcomes. Although the series does not use local stories, the stories are not that uncommon to Milwaukee.
UNNATURAL CAUSES was produced by the San Francisco-based film production and distribution center California Newsreel, in partnership with Vital Pictures of Boston. It is being presented on PBS by the National Minority Consortia of public television. California Newsreel is the nation's oldest nonprofit documentary production and distribution center, dedicated to disseminating social interest films and videos. Vital Pictures is a documentary company dedicated to social justice issues. The series has received major funding from the Ford Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the California Endowment, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Health Policy Institute, Kaiser Permanente and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.The series is scheduled to air locally on Milwaukee Public Television, channels 10 and 36, weekly beginning Marth 28th. For a full broadcast schedule, visit the broadcast schedule on the PBS UNNATURAL CAUSES' web site.