Collateral Damage

I did very poorly on the Health Equity Quiz.  The statistic that was most surprising to me was that white neighborhoods in west Los Angeles contain 31.8 acres of park space per 1000 residents while black and Latino neighborhoods contain only 1.7 acres per 1000 residents.

The episode I chose was “Collateral Damage”.  It was the story of the native peoples of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific.  It also included some horrifying statistics such as their infant mortality rate being more than seven times that of the US and their frequency of tuberculosis being twenty-three times as high.  It went on to explain that the United States is even to blame for these health issues.  The US army decided the islands were a strategically significant area and moved hundreds of natives to other islands in order to create a base.  This led to higher density living for the native Marshallese people which in turn led to spread of diseases such as TB.  Furthermore, the army base attracted countless islanders looking for jobs which it could not supply, thus exacerbating poverty and susceptibility for disease.
Also, in a period of only twelve years after 1946, the US tested 68 nuclear devices around the islands which led to nuclear fallout, radiation poisoning and accidentally killing hundreds of natives due to a “miscalculation”.  The quantity of explosions was given as “1.7 Hiroshima atom bombs every day for twelve years”.  Today, the military base offers US families middle class accommodations including state of the art health treatment, while only three miles away on Ebi Island the natives experience frequent power outages, water shortages, and no indoor plumbing.  It is considered one of the most dramatic dichotomies of social status and living conditions.  In recent years thousands of Marshallese people have moved to American towns such as Springdale, Arkansas because they are allowed to work without a visa.  Even there where they experience better living conditions, education, and economy they still suffer from higher rates of TB, as they are not acclimated to the cold.  The episode ended with one researcher saying, “50 years from now we will be judged on what we did for the poorest and more marginalized people today”.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jacqueline Godin says:

    I did not watch this episode, but what the U.S. did to these people is horrible. Our government is responsible for all of these health problems and their high levels of poverty. The government should move their base to the smallest or one of the smallest islands, if they deem it necessary that a base be there, so that there is less population density. They should also provide better health care options that go into their town and help treat everyone with TB and other diseases. Their testing of nuclear weapons should not occur on this base. They should find a place where there is no chance of people getting radiation poisoning or it causing effects. This place is the natives’ home, we should respect it and the people that inhabit it and make sure they have everything they need to survive. We shouldn’t take all their electricity or their water.

    This solution is political. Our government should now be responsible for all of these people, since majority of their problems is their fault. It is good that the people can work in Arkansas now without a Visa, but most people cannot afford to travel all that way.

    Some pros to this solution are that the people will be taken care of better and will receive better treatment. They will also have more room to live since the base will be moved to a different island. Some cons include this being more U.S. spending than the government probably wants, but like I said, it is their fault these people are like this anyway. They were responsible for the deaths of many people with that nuclear explosion, therefore, they should cough up some more money to help these people.

  2. Chase Taylor says:

    I actually did not watch the video for this case study which made me very keen to pick it as I would not be biased in my comments (well written post by the way!). I have heard of the bomb testing in the Pacific and found it interesting that there were problems other then fallout related issues. It would seem that one possible solution would be to implement facilities improving healthcare and living conditions on Ebi Island. This would eliminate the issue of people leaving the island and allow a partial return to normalcy. Some of the issues in this situation can unfortunately, only be healed by time. I would consider this approach to be Economical with interplay of the other approaches. I would consider the government most deserving of this responsibility because the government created this situation. The solution proposed not only would involve government funds (ideally taken from the military budget which in my opinion is over-inflated) but also government regulation for reasons that I will discuss momentarily. The pros of this solution are readily observable in the sense that it will provide a fast fix and immediate tangible relief. The cons are a little harder to observe, however high government regulation (and funds) are necessary. If you put too much money into the island you could have a similar situation to that of the initial base building in the sense that people would flock to the island to take advantage of the care. Also it is important to point out that the locals may not be culturally ready for all of this additional building and infrastructure.

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