We Have Lift Off!!

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Hi everyone!! I’m very excited to announce today the launch of the brand new PLOS Public Health Blog!

We’ve assembled a range of writers with a diverse set of backgrounds, and we’re looking forward to talking about important issues that affect us all.

I’m going to share a quick story called the Parable of the Clinician and the Epidemiologist, or the less fancy-sounding “bridge story.” The story goes like this (taken from Mark Pendegrast’s excellent book “Inside the Outbreaks“):

The Brown River usually flows lazily through the middle of town. But today it is a torrent carrying human bodies. Some, still alive, are gasping for air and thrashing the water.

Approaching the river to enjoy lunch on its banks, two doctors, horrified by what they see, begin to haul people out of the water. There are no signs of violence, but the victims’ eyes are glazed, their weak pulses racing.

The doctors cannot keep up with the flow of bodies. They save a few and watch helplessly as the others drift beyond them.

Suddenly, one of the doctors lowers an old man to the ground and starts to run. “What are you doing?” yells the other doctor. “For God’s sake, help me save these people!”

Without stopping, she yells back over her shoulder, “I’m going upstream to find out why they’re falling in.”

You can find a review of the book by PLoS’ Travis Saunders here.

In public health, we spend a lot of our time working with upstream determinants of health – how does road design affect physical activity? What is the impact of clean drinking water? How do viruses spread – either through vulnerable populations or around the world? Sometimes these have clear outcomes, and sometimes if we’re successful, the outcome never materializes. We’ll be talking about various issues and factors that affect public health, and welcome your input.

So feel free to comment on our posts, connect with us on Twitter and subscribe to our blog. We’ll be updating twice a week, so keep checking back!

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