American Public Health Association, November 2002, Philadelphia
Sylvia Caras, PhD

APHA has a $12 million budget. Income comes from membership, convention, and publications. There are currently 28,000 members.

Joe Rogers organized a delicious breakfast and rousing speaker for the mental health section, two dozen attended, mostly from Philadelphia, section program billed event as consumer and family event and most of the section did not attend Estelle Richman stressed that both activism and advocacy are needed. Later in the conference, another speaker noted that activism is easier when there is a clear enemy. (Who/what is the clear enemy of People Who?) Neither words/persuasions, nor actions/sit-ins are enough; both are needed. Activists and advocates in San Francisco can build on this second APHA c/s event for next year.

About 13,000 are present at the American Public Health Association at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Vermont has just joined, and now all 50 states are affiliated.

Opening general session was well-attended, signed, had a strong anti-war sentiment - for instance see and sign their petition at (I thought, as I listened to speakers that science, built on the belief on a cause and effect world, by focusing on near interventions and short-term results is overlooking social causes of ill-health.) Keynoter Howard Dean, Democratic candidate for 2004 US President, reminded the audience to think about the persons behind the statistics. He stated that prisons are the most expensive and least effective social intervention in the US.

Ron Manderscheid attended the Mental Health Section business meeting: the theme of the 2003 National Statistics Conference is Resilience and Recovery.

67 countries have national public health associations which belong to the World Public Health Association.


I’ve been appointed to the APHA International Human Rights Committee, a committee of the APHA Executive Board, which organizes and sponsors some conference sessions. Current chair Russell Morgan; incoming Carol Easley. About 200 people were seated, and more standing, at the human rights and terrorism session. For me, the room was inaccessible because of an air-conditioning hum so loud it sounded like microphone feedback. I asked for an assistive listening device, was told (which I know) that accommodations must be requested in advance, replied that the room was inaccessible and I didn’t know that in advance and there was an ADA obligation, and about 30 minutes later a listening device appeared! Very strengthening to know rights and exercise them. The device helped, but it also amplified the hum <sigh>.

Geiger: assault on constitution happens in time of war and perceived threats to social order; only check is public arousal, group action. US is dismantling international law.

Levy: new technologies of war create new social obligations (seems permission for war - S.) collateral damage (concept odd that "civilians" aren’t a part of their countries, are collateral. S.) casualties aren’t being sufficiently considered. Concerns about an exhaustive urban war in Baghdad.

Weiss: fear of Iraqui *nuclear* threat fueling US enthusiasm for war. Universal jurisdiction, core obligations and rights. Civil society must speak strongly to this misuse of power. Risk of urban warfare: inevitable that bunkered biological weapons will be released.

Easley: terrorists are moved by honor and shame, are not psychotic (terrorist groups screen out "these" people), poverty and despair contribute, universities are recruiting ground

deLone: available soon: APHA consensus health standards for jails and prisons using international human rights standards

Saviano: health and human rights linkage and integration came began in the mid 90's as part of the women’s human rights movement

Marks: deliberate effort by US to remove human rights language from international documents, started under Clinton

relationship between empowerment of women and sustainable development within countries.

SAMHSA breakfast: 75 people shared rolls and fruit; I recognize no People Who here or at the conference, have seen only Ron Manderscheid from CMHS.

Cohen, Mental Health Section Chair: "the mentally ill"

Curie: ACE - accountability, capacity, effectiveness; a life in the community for everyone. Science to services; SAMHSA is services. "I don’t want us to be doing research." ‘04 budget based on matrix/priorities, then assigned to Centers. Not planning to merge CMHS and CSAP. "Seclusion and restraint are treatment failures." Spiritual dimension to recovery. Not just a medical model system; look beyond Medicaid (treatment) funding.

ATOD - new acronym for me, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs

Re one psychiatrist in a developing country: "I’m all alone in the country; I can only do medication, not social context, therapy. Psychiatrists in China typically prescribe 1/3 of recommended US doses, find patients get more sick on larger doses..

Attendees to the session on globalization and health overflowed the room; 60 sat on chairs, another 25 on the floor or stood. Water quality was mentioned by several, and it was noted that a bottle of water costs more than a bottle of oil.

Akhter: Governments in the Islamic world are weak, corrupt. First, protect your power/position; community and charity are disappearing, me/me/me; people are poor/angry; frustrated, without justice, which leads to terrorism

Purdy: "globalization" is used to mobilize various passions; organizations that change to shape themselves around existing current resentments, primarily an anti-imperial legacy and cultural/nationalism, fueled by ambition and resentment

APHA members participate by electing members from their sections to the Governing Council, which met for at least a day and a half. I watched for half a day. And I realized that for me, parliamentary votes and debates are better than and similar to competitive sporting events – I enjoyed watching the carefully managed process and how the sides presented their issues.

The 2003 APHA meeting is in San Francisco. The theme: Behavioral Health/Lifestyle Social Determinants of Health. It would be good if People Who answered the Call.

The theme for 2004 will be Public Health and the Environment (which includes the social environment. Another good opportunity for People Who to be involved.)