Public health


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From the Chansonnier of Zeghere van Male (1542), Bruges. Cambrai, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 128B, Folio 116v. Courtesy ISMPL.org

Essay/
Environmental history
Human crap

We are demigods of discards – but our copious garbage became a toxic burden only with the modern cult of ‘disposability’

Gabrielle Hecht

A coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a threadworm, a parasitic nematode of the small intestines of numerous animals. Photo by Steve Geschmeissner/Science Photo Library

Essay/
Medicine
We need worms

You might think they are disgusting. But our war against intestinal worms has damaged our immune systems and mental health

William Parker

Colour-enhanced image of the bacteriophage T4. Photo courtesy David Gregory & Debbie Marshall/Wellcome Images

Essay/
Medicine
Viral rescue

When antibiotics fail, could phage therapy succeed? The germ’s-eye view of infection might open up revolutionary treatments

Emily Monosson

Wrapped Oranges (1889) by William J McCloskey. Courtesy Amon Carter Museum of American Art/Wikipedia

Essay/
History
The flavour revolutionary

Henry Theophilus Finck sought to transform the modern United States, by appealing to Americans’ tastebuds

Nadia Berenstein

Photo by Tomas Peters/Reuters

Essay/
Work
The future is emotional

Human jobs in the future will be the ones that require emotional labour: currently undervalued and underpaid but invaluable

Livia Gershon

Bird flu: a worker feeds chickens at a poultry farm on 24 October 2005 in Beijing, China. Photo by China Photos/Getty

Essay/
Illness and disease
Who names diseases?

Swine Flu, Naples Soldier, Ebola. Disease names express fear, create stigma and distract attention. Can they be improved?

Laura Spinney

Nepalese woman Pabitra Giri prepares to sleep in a Chhaupadi hut during her menstruation period in Surkhet District, some 520km west of Kathmandu. 3 February, 2017. Photo by Prakesh Mathema/AFP/Getty

Essay/
History
The taboo of menstruation

All around the world, and throughout history, women have been shamed, sequestered, and medicalised for bleeding regularly

Janie Hampton

The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Courtesy Museo Del Prado, Madrid.

Essay/
Illness and disease
The Black Death

At least one in three Europeans and untold millions in Asia died. What was the source of this brutal, lethal efficiency?

Wendy Orent

Luis Moure, an ex-addict, pauses in East Harlem, New York, on 5 August 2015. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty

Essay/
Addiction
Ageing out of drugs

Most addicts just stop using in time, without needing costly treatment. Why do some people walk away while others can’t?

Stacey McKenna

Jakob Gutierrez, 5, receives an immunisation shot from a school nurse in Hialeah, Florida. August 2007. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Essay/
Public health
Values and vaccines

Parents who reject vaccination are making a rational choice – they prefer to put their children above the public good

Maggie Koerth-Baker

Radiation treatment for lung cancer. Photo by Christopher Anderson/Magnum

Essay/
Public health
Death of cancer

A critical mass of medical knowledge could soon end the death threat of cancer, but politics stands in the way

Vincent DeVita & Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn