Dear Secretary Azar: On behalf of the members of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, and the students, faculty and leadership of America’s public health schools and programs, I write to express our disappointment and dismay at the United States’ efforts to block a resolution offered at the World Health Assembly that called on all governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding.” We ask that you clarify the United States’ position on breastfeeding, including why we apparently now are opposed to its promotion and why the United States also now apparently is opposing efforts to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes. Lastly, since you led the U.S. delegation to the World Health Assembly, we ask you to explicitly state who approved this radical change in U.S. policy
The US Constitution mandates that every resident be counted at least every ten years. As the 2020 census approaches, the Trump administration’s decision to meddle with how to perform this head count by adding a question about citizenship to the census has already been criticized by the Census Bureau’s Scientific Advisory committee and has become the target of lawsuits.
Throughout his political career, President Trump has defined himself in large part by his antipathy towards immigrants, from his disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants at the start of his presidential campaign, to his administration’s ban on immigrants from several majority-Muslim countries, to his more recent obscene characterization of Haiti and African countries. Even in this context, however, his administration’s decision to separate from their parents the children of immigrants arriving at the country’s border stands out as an especially cruel, mean-spirited act. As Ali Noorani (SPH’99), executive director of the National Immigration Forum, has said, “Separating parents and children in an attempt to deter people who are fleeing violence from legally seeking asylum is cruel to families, harmful to children, and wholly contrary to American values.”
Sixteen million American children live in poverty, putting them at risk for delayed development, disease, and poor educational outcomes. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a pro-work, federal tool that has reduced or eliminated poverty for 13.2 million children. Cash transfer programs like EITC improve maternal and infant health.
Next weekend, Americans will wear orange to mark Gun Violence Awareness Day and advocate for changes to our laws that could help stem the tide of firearm violence in this country. The recent shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, which killed 10 people, underscored the need for reform, as did the many shootings that came before it, as will the many shootings that will follow if we persist in our collective inaction. With this in mind, we today rerun a modified version of a Dean’s Note on guns and public health. It is no accident that the original version of this note was one of the first I wrote when I became dean of the School of Public Health in 2015. I have come to believe that gun violence is among the preeminent public health challenges of our time, a belief shared by many in our field, and, hearteningly, an increasing number of people outside of it. The growing acknowledgement that gun violence is indeed a public health problem opens the door to public health solutions, and a commonsense, data-informed approach to this challenge, as the gun debate continues to unfold.