In righting wrongs, they’re protecting the health of millions.
When access to food, medical treatment, education, or basic human rights is unequal, public health suffers. Bloomberg School faculty—past and present—demonstrate how the persistent pursuit of justice changes history and human health.
Disability and Hearing Impairments
William G. Hardy, Miriam Pauls Hardy & Nicholas Reed
Then » In the mid-20th century, American schools often excluded children with hearing loss. Officials labeled them “ineducable.” In 1949, William G. Hardy, PhD, and Miriam Pauls Hardy, PhD, joined the Division of Audiology and Speech (in what is today the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering) and sought to change that. They were instrumental in reframing hearing loss as a communication challenge, not a cognitive or intellectual disability.
NOW » Audiologist Nicholas Reed, AuD, is leading efforts to broaden Medicare coverage to include hearing aids and clinical services for the two-thirds of adults over 70 with hearing loss. Reed and colleagues at the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health have identified hearing loss as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, dementia, cognitive decline, and depression. He has also shown that adults with hearing loss experience a range of injustices in a health care system that relies heavily on oral communication, including impeded patient-provider communication, higher costs, and less satisfaction with care.
LGBTQ+ Rights and Representation
Nancy Kass & S. Wilson Beckham
Then » Early in the AIDS crisis, Nancy E. Kass, ScD ’89, documented discrimination by health providers and insurance companies against bisexual and gay men. For example, 16 times as many respondents with AIDS said they had been refused treatment by a dentist as those who were HIV negative. Kass, now a professor in Health Policy and Management, helped lay the foundation for the bioethics of AIDS—and the protection of the rights of pregnant women, patients, and research study participants.
NOW » S. Wilson Beckham, PhD ’13, fights health care discrimination against gender diverse people today. Beckham, an assistant scientist in Health, Behavior and Society, asserts that “the medical world has pathologized transgender and neurodiverse people”—groups with considerable overlap. With more than 100 anti-transgender bills pending in state legislatures, “trans people are under attack,” he says. “We are fighting for our existence and even the reality of our existence.” Beckham, one of a handful of scholars of transgender health who also identify as transgender, advocates for the rights and representation of transgender people in HIV research.
A Right to Care
Carl Taylor & Leiyu Shi
Then » Carl E. Taylor, MD, DrPH, founding chair of International Health, dedicated his career to empowering local people in more than 70 countries to address their own health issues. He played a leading role in crafting the 1978 WHO/UNICEF Alma-Ata Declaration, the first international statement to underscore the importance of primary health care and assert that health care is a fundamental human right.
NOW » Alma-Ata guides Leiyu Shi’s ongoing research and advocacy for community health centers, which he has championed before the U.S. Congress. In the 1980s, as an assistant health officer serving the 10 million citizens of Shanghai, Shi, DrPH, MBA, MPA, promoted grassroots primary health care that provided basic, affordable services in a setting with few health professionals and little funding. Shi joined the Health Policy and Management faculty in 1997 as co-director of the Primary Care Policy Center. He developed tools and fashioned research projects aimed at fundamentally changing the health systems—in the U.S. and globally—to deliver more just, equitable, and sustainable health services.
Food Access and Equity
M. Alfred Haynes & Darriel Harris
Then » In 1968, associate professor of International Health M. Alfred Haynes, MD, MPH, testified before Congress that he had found evidence of stunted physical growth and delayed mental development that indicated a silent epidemic of hunger and malnutrition in communities across America. He was part of the civil rights and anti-hunger movements that spurred a historic expansion of federal food security programs, especially those for children.
NOW » As the first Cynthia & Robert S. Lawrence Fellow at the Center for a Livable Future, Darriel Harris, PhD ’21, MDiv, MA, is developing food system strategies that advance environmental justice, racial equity, and public health. Harris began pursuing ideas such as food policy councils and collective action against polluting factory farms while earning a PhD in Health, Behavior and Society, and has since begun investigating collective action against polluting factory farms. He also draws on his experience as a local pastor and project manager with CLF’s Baltimore Food and Faith Project, where he used tools such as congregational gardens and farmers markets to engage parishioners in examining the connections among diet, health, and environment through the lens of their own religious traditions.