Public Health Watch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization that focuses on threats to America’s well-being. We illuminate weaknesses and injustices in the nation’s health infrastructure and policies, expose inequities and highlight solutions. National in scope, we collaborate with media outlets large and small and college journalism and public health programs. Our aim is to uncover truths that hold institutions and individuals accountable and to compel change.
What Is Public Health?
Public health is about the prevention of illness, injury and death. The threats to physical and mental health are wide-ranging and include air and water pollution, climate change, workplace hazards, substance abuse, lack of health insurance and violence.
- The United States each year spends $3.6 trillion on health, yet less than 3 percent of that amount goes toward prevention. More than three-quarters of Americans live in states that spend less than $100 per person annually on public health and 100 times that much on medical care. The impacts of this frail (or in some cases non-existent) infrastructure fall disproportionately on people of color.
- While the nation’s attention understandably is trained on COVID-19, there are many pressing issues apart from infectious disease. Seven of 10 deaths in America are caused by non-communicable illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and substance abuse
- Reporting on the root causes of health inequities requires deep expertise and exceptional persistence. We use data, documents, audio, video, graphics and powerful written narratives to connect with and elicit responses from the public elected officials, regulators, researchers and advocates.
- Reporting on solutions must accompany investigative journalism whenever possible. The public, dispirited by the pandemic and social and political divisions, should know that seemingly intractable problems can be addressed.
A Holistic View of Public Health
Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, speaks frequently of Blind Willie Johnson, a Texas-born gospel blues musician whose recordings were popular in the early 20th century. Poor and Black, Johnson was blinded in a domestic-violence incident when he was 7. His house burned down when he was an adult, and he lived in the ruins, sleeping on a damp bed and developing malaria, to which he succumbed at 48. “It wasn’t just malaria that killed him,” Galea says. It also was violence, substandard housing, racism, poverty and lack of access to medical care. We view public health through an expansive lens to show how such factors still contribute to needless suffering and death a century later.
Inclusion and Diversity
Public Health Watch strives to reflect our country’s diversity through the communities and topics we cover; our staffing, contributors and partners; the knowledgeable sources that we turn to for information and perspectives; our board of directors, and the memberships and programs in which we participate.