A new report by the Alameda County Public Health department titled "Life and Death from Unnatural Causes in Alameda County," has indicated the relationship between environment and economic status of people and its bearing on life expectancy.
The report which summarized the study of death certificates and relevant data of people in the county saw an unhealthy link between how people lived and life expectancy pointing to the fact that illness seemed to favor the people in low income groups. Racial discrimination, lack of social acceptance, problems with livelihood, bad working conditions, transportation problems, and housing issues featured as overriding reasons for lowered life expectancy.
According to Dr. Tony Iton, Alameda County's public health director, "This is not your typical health report, for one thing, it has almost nothing to do with medical care. Instead, this is about housing, about education, employment and how these things are inextricably linked to health.
"We're not talking about murder or crime in these statistics. We're also not talking about individual behavior, such as smoking or drug use. In addition, it's not whether you have health insurance or not. It goes deeper than that, to your education level, income level and what your neighborhood is like."
Dr Tony questioned the outcome of health of those who grew up breathing fumes from trucks, or needed to work in two shifts to make ends meet. In his opinion, inadequate nutrition also escalated the problem adding to health issues.
"Social inequity is health inequity," Iton said. "Education policy is health policy. Transportation policy is health policy. All these things are connected, and we need to harmonize these strategies across the board because — right now — years of life are lost due to social conditions."
Rebecca Kaplan, vice president of AC Transit's board of directors, said "There are long-term goals, but we can start with things like providing reduced-price transit passes for youth," she said. "When young people are able to get to after-school programs, get to jobs, to health care, it puts them on a path to a positive future."