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For Release: March 13, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Unnatural Causes…. Is Inequality Making Us Sick?
A New PBS Series Takes on Health Care Crisis March 27 – April 24

Why does the most powerful nation in the world have worse health outcomes than other nations, despite spending more than twice the amount of money per person on health care? How does racial discrimination impose an additional health burden at all income levels? How do the social conditions in which people are born, live and work affect health and longevity?

A new Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary series, “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” examines these questions, challenges current beliefs about health, and offers new remedies to address health care issues. The four-hour series will air from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on OETA PBS on consecutive Thursdays from March 27 to April 17.

The series has prompted the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Community Development Service, Health Equity and Resource Opportunities, county health departments, and the Oklahoma State Turning Point Council to schedule discussions in Tulsa and Oklahoma City that seek community input on the causes and potential solutions to socioeconomic and ethnic inequities in health.

A community forum in Tulsa will be held Monday, March 24, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Central Center, 1028 East 6th Street. For more information, call (918) 595-4404.
A community forum in Oklahoma City will be held Tuesday, April 15, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at Constitution Hall at the University of Central Oklahoma. For more information, call (405) 271-9444, ext. 56535.

Currently, an estimated 47 million Americans, including about 700,000 Oklahomans, lack health care. The series discusses what makes people ill, and then questions why economic status, race, and zip codes are more powerful predictors of health status than life expectancy and smoking.

Past public health improvements were tied to improving individual behaviors through new drugs, medical technology and public policy reforms like child labor laws. This series takes a look at factors that are now necessary to improve health, yet are beyond individual control, including improvements in land use, transportation, and business investment in poor neighborhoods, as well as safe streets, family leave and wage improvements.

“As health inequality grows, we have begun to see a decline in U.S. life expectancy. We are seeking public input and discussions from our local communities about ways to improve Oklahoma’s health care system and which types of programs or activities would provide the most health improvement for Oklahomans,” said Secretary for Health and State Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Crutcher.

For more information about the Tulsa and Oklahoma City community forums, as well as other statewide activities related to the documentary, visit this Web site: http://www.oeta.tv/unnaturalcauses.html.

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