My friend Martine just sent me a link to a great TED talk about geography in medicine. Bill Davenahll presents an interesting overview of medical geography and what can be done with global postitioning systems (GPS). Unfortunately, there are two things missing from his talk. First, he does not talk about any of the ethical implications of tracking people using GPS. Second, he reduces geography to personal choice. The problem is that many people cannot, like him, choose to live in areas that are less polluted. To me the question remains, were do the people who cannot chose to move go, and how to do we try and change environments to improve their health.

1 Comment

  1. I agree with your assessment of the TEDtalk presenter in your last blog posting. From an academic standpoint knowing where and for how long people spend their time offers interesting information as to health trends. But like you said, people who don’t have a choice as to where they live, and I would argue that is most people, often are not able to move according to the quality of their environment. So I think your question re: how do we improve our environments is much more valid.

    I also didn’t like the inference that all MDs should know how to council a person on the environment that they live in. Does that really fit within the scope of a general practitioner? Secondarily, I think it takes away the responsibility of people taking care of themselves. People rely too much on what their doctors tell them, to the point that when they are told to do something they don’t question it even if it is to simply understand it. In my limited experience at triage I have already seen dozens of people that have come to the hospital because they were told they were going to have a CT, ultrasound, or consultation with a specialist and they don’t know why! Besides environmental health is a speciality of its own because it is so complex. Knowing it to the degree that you would to need to for counseling purposes would mean engaging in it as a subspecialty. But in the end do we really need another under represented and poorly available medical subspecialty?


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