Advice to the next president: 7 ways to fight health inequities

For immediate release: June 18, 2008

Boston, MA- In a series of opinion pieces and two-minute videos, seven Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) faculty offer “Advice to the Next President: 7 Ways to Fight Health Inequities.” The series is published in the newly released Spring/Summer issue of the Harvard Public Health Review. The articles and videos are freely available for linking to websites.

This package may help journalists prepare stories during this presidential election season to answer the question: How might the U.S. narrow the gap between health “haves” and “have nots” — and raise average life expectancy to that of other industrialized countries?

Currently, the U.S. is ranked 47th in the world. Life expectancy averages 78.1 years, but a large segment of the U.S. population is experiencing a decline in life expectancy.  [See life expectancy figures by country.]

Much of the current political debate focuses on health care for the uninsured.  Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 10 percent of premature mortality in Americans can be traced to inadequate health care coverage. Social and environmental factors beyond insurance coverage create conditions that make poor people three times more likely to die prematurely than wealthier Americans. And even middle-income Americans are more than twice as likely to die earlier than top earners.

In the Harvard Public Health Review, seven HSPH faculty experts suggest concrete ways the next U.S. President can level the playing field for all Americans by promoting policies focused on:

  • high quality schools
  • safe neighborhoods and workplaces
  • a cleaner environment
  • reducing poverty
  • desegregating our health care system
  • protecting and nurturing the physical, mental and social development of children under the age of 5
  • empowering communities to solve problems
  • imposing stricter tobacco control standards
  • providing health care for legal immigrants who are ineligible for Medicaid the first five years they are in the U.S.


To speak with one or more of the faculty members featured, please contact:
Robin Herman
Harvard School of Public Health
617 432-4752


Harvard School of Public Health ( is dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children’s health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: