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Science & social responsibility in public health
Epidemiologists and environmental health researchers have a joint responsibility to acquire scientific knowledge that matters to public health and to apply the knowledge gained in public health practice. We examine the nature and source of these social responsibilities, discuss a debate in the epidemiological literature on roles and responsibilities, and cite approaches to environmental justice as reflective of them. At one level, responsibility refers to accountability, as in being responsible for actions taken. A deeper meaning of responsibility corresponds to commitment to the pursuit and achievement of a valued end
Public health ethics is on the map. In the past year, bioethicists and public health practitioners have begun to focus their critical attention on this complex and understudied topic. Much remains to be done. Childress et al. (2002), for example, describe their account of public health ethics as a rough conceptual map of a terrain with undefined boundaries.
Our focus will be on the responsibilities of epidemiologists, a choice made for several compelling reasons. Epidemiology sits at the center of the science and practice of environmental health, and more generally, at the center of public health. Although it is often referred to as a basic science of public health, epidemiology connects the acquisition of scientific knowledge with its application in preventive interventions, programs, and policies. This connection suggests a fundamental question: What are our responsibilities as epidemiologists? Do we, for example, have a joint responsibility to participate in science and to apply the knowledge gained? This is a key concern for us as researchers, health professionals, and as teachers.
The social responsibility of public health professionals is but one of many concerns in the broader picture of public health ethics. It is nevertheless a central concern. As Ogletree (1996) reminds us, responsibility is a concept particularly well suited to flame many key aspects of the ethics of professions faced with making decisions and taking actions in complex situations. These decisions often involve advanced technologies, high levels of specialization, and overlapping areas of expertise and concern among decision makers from diverse educational, political, and social backgrounds, precisely the situation in contemporary epidemiology and public health. In sum, responsibility organizes many (although not all) of public health’s ethical issues in terms appropriate for professional practitioners.
Responsibility has a deeper meaning as well, corresponding to commitment. To be responsible means to be committed to someone or to some thing. Being responsible in this deeper sense involves a commitment to positive action, to the pursuit and achievement of something of value, such as a social good (Jonas 1984). We will return to the notion of social goods in public health. For now, we want to emphasize that responsibility focuses attention on professional commitments
Finally, our inquiry is intended to assist all public health researchers who seek to define their social responsibilities. For those who are involved primarily in environmental health research, we can think of at least two connected and current topics–environmental justice and community-based participatory research.
Seniors Using Webinars To Learn More About Health Care
For many companies, the decision to use webinars is based on enhancing workflow and cutting cost. It is clear, however, that video conferencing services has many real world applications as well. The most obvious benefits of utilizing these tools are really just the tip of the iceberg. One recent example of this is an undertaking by the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) in Suffolk with using webcast to disperse information.
In November, the NFCA in collaboration with Home Instead Senior Care put on free web conferencing. The aim was to help families coping with caring for elderly parents to make decisions and understand potential problems. The 45-minute online conference addressed vital issues and featured well known professionals in the field of senior care.
Senior care is a growing concern in the US. Using webinar software to enhance care and making decisions is a giant step in the right direction. The facilities of a good video conferencing software can also be applied to other areas. These include:
Sales team mobilization
Other areas of the health care sector can also be improved by the use of a video conferencing system. Todays web conference systems are pricey as earlier. Providers like RHUB Communications have created products that give any company or organization the ability to be flexible.
The web conference systems today are based on speed, reliability, and enhanced communication. Some of the features of the best web conference services are:
Remote desktop control
Multi-tiered tech support
Recording of conferences or webinars
File transfer and remote printing
A web conference like the one put on by the NFCA creates opportunities for others facing similar situations. Not surprisingly, the decision to have the web conference was largely influenced by the current economic climate.
Users today have the option of hosted services, downloadable software or self hosted, in house solutions. RHUB appliance is an example which many companies find to be preferable to hosted solutions. However, even the most basic web conference systems have helped companies streamline their operations and improve productivity.
This will no doubt set a new trend for other cash strapped communities looking to provide care for the elderly. Special needs organizations, private health care facilities and similar groups could also explore the use of online conferencing for delivery of information.
Higher Education A Womans World
At first glance, higher education today might seem like a woman’s world.
Government officials have warned that men will face a struggle for good jobs in future as teenage boys shun university.
In 2006, 22,500 more young women than men went on to higher education. Ministers are increasingly concerned at the widening gender gap in higher education. Employers increasingly look to hire staff with degrees.
Consequently, men might find themselves marginalised in the jobs market.
Girls have been outperforming boys at GCSE, A-level and in university for years. But now girls are doing better at work too, earning more than boys in the first eight years of their careers.
In 2005, 80% of girls passed national curriculum tests in English, compared with 67% of boys.
At A level, girls passed 23.9% of exams at grade A, compared with 21.5% of boys. According to Higher Education Funding Council for England Figures last year showed 47% of 17-30 year-old women had gone into higher education in 2004, compared to 37% of young men.
Hefce chief executive Professor David Eastwood said: We need to understand better why this is happening and start taking some action sooner rather than later.
Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said The government has introduced a number of strategies to address the gap in gender achievement and to raise the performance of all pupil.
The Raising Boys’ Achievement Project which looked at exciting and innovative ways of raising achievement across a range of primary, secondary, and special schools to identify and evaluate strategies which are particularly helping motivating boys.
Schools will be better able to address underachievement in the performance of boys and girls if they know when and where they emerge. A careful analysis of data, mapping the development of male and female pupils, particularly the value-added data, including a breakdown of data by key pupil sub-groups, will enable schools to plan when and how to intervene. Schools should monitor pupils progress regularly by gender.