“We cannot be silent” was the clear take home message from the April UCLA Student PSR lunch lecture series. The three part series, co-sponsored by the UCLA Medical Student Council and PSR-LA, addressed the social and environmental determinates of health, and the health impact of nuclear weapons. The speakers, Curren Warf M.D., Jim Mangia, and Michael Rodriguez M.D., M.P.H., illustrated the many ways in which physicians express their social conscience and improve public health.
On the first day, Jim Mangia described the success of the St. John’s Well Child and Family Center’s Healthy Homes-Healthy Kids program in establishing the link between slum housing conditions and children’s health. On the second day, Dr. Warf addressed the issue of nuclear war and its impact on public health worldwide, reminding the medical students that their role as physicians cannot be separated from their role as activists and advocates.
The final lecture was given by Dr. Rodriguez, who discussed the factors that contribute to healthcare disparities across ethnic groups in the United States. All three talks were well attended and provoked impassioned discussion among the students.
The response was overwhelmingly positive. Participants learned and were inspired to consider Dr. Warf’s question, “what it means to be silent” in the face of the grave threats to peace, health and the environment.