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Letters to the Editor

Urban Health Revisited

Tap Student Potential

Although we were delighted that the Fall 2007 issue focused on urban health, we were disappointed that student efforts were largely invisible. SOURCE (Student Outreach Resource Center), the community service and service-learning center, was also barely mentioned. JHMI students reported over 11,000 hours of community service last year. Students who participate in community-engaged activities gain a better understanding of the health problems facing urban populations--essential training for future public health professionals. We believe you missed two important ways to improve urban health: "Unleash Student Potential" and "Foster a Culture of Community Engagement."

Susan Ghanbarpour and Kamila Mistry
Students for a Positive Academic PaRtnership with the East Baltimore Community (SPARC)

"Open" City Roads

Imagine miles of closed and partially closed roads, a festival atmosphere with thousands of strollers, dog walkers, skateboarders, joggers and cyclists of all ages and races having a great time together in and around our great cities from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. every Sunday. Imagine the new level of activity, sense of hope and excitement, shrinking waistlines and discovery of our sometimes forgotten neighborhoods. Cyclovia in Bogota, Colombia, has turned this dream into reality for the past 25 years. In a city of 7 million, nearly a million people participate every week. The camaraderie, the cleaner air, the peace, quiet and human energy has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Greg Cantori

Make Tough Choices

Urban health is linked with crowding, homelessness, air, water and noise pollution, construction activity, cutting of trees, rising temperature. But all these are also associated with development. So is it the choice between health and development, where we want both...?

Anjali Radkar

Focus on Homeless War Vets

One urban health problem not mentioned is homelessness. Many people are especially surprised to find that homelessness among military veterans is a growing problem in our nation. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates on any given night, nearly 200,000 veterans across the country are homeless. Moreover, according to the VA, over the course of a year, 400,000 veterans experience homelessness. Increasingly, our troops returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are becoming part of that homeless population. Throughout the U.S., a national network of some 250 public and private community-based organizations provide housing, food, counseling, health care and employment assistance to homeless veterans. Homeless veterans deserve wider attention by the public health community.

Cheryl Beversdorf
Washington, D.C.

Improve Health Care and Housing

One of the greatest priorities for urban health is the provision of adequate health services for the urban poor who make up a large percentage of the urban areas. They are also in need of improved housing, since most of them live in overcrowded shanty settlements.

Dr. Aisha Abubakar
Zaria, Nigeria

Bring Politics Into the Picture

Improving urban health isn't just about the details of better targeted interventions. It's about a "new deal" to improve the health of the public, focusing on schools, housing, urban environments, and not least, access to health care! This is as much a political issue as a public health issue.

Jacob Bor
Boston, Massachusetts

Add These to Your List...

· Create inner-city boarding schools to end the cycle of violence.

· Change city schools from places of institutional racism to places that foster round-the-clock learning.

· Focus on acknowledging multiple intelligences, mental health, nutrition, community connectedness through art and music.

· Ride a bike and get to know your neighbors.

Bridget Benzingi

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