Don Quixote, Machiavelli, and Robin Hood: public health practice, past and present.
Since the mid-19th century, when the first formal health departments were established in the United States, commissioners, directors, and secretaries of public health have functioned as senior members of the staffs of public executives, mayors, governors, and presidents. They have provided important political, managerial, and scientific leadership to agencies of government that have played increasingly important roles in national life, from the sanitary revolution of the 19th century to the prevention of HIV/AIDS and the control of tobacco use today. Although public health officials come from a variety of backgrounds and oversee agencies of varied size and composition, there are philosophical themes that describe and define the commonality of their work. These themes are captured metaphorically by 3 celebrated figures: Don Quixote, Machiavelli, and Robin Hood. By turns, the public health official functions as a determined idealist (Don Quixote), a cunning political strategist (Machiavelli), and an agent who redistributes resources from the wealthier sectors of society to the less well off (Robin Hood.) All 3 personae are important, but, it is argued, Robin Hood is the most endangered. (+info)
Lessons learned on the road to a smoke-free Italy.
In the face of strong and protracted opposition by the Tobacco Industry (TI) and its allies, Italy's national smoke-free legislation came into force in 2005 prohibiting smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces including offices, bars, and restaurants. Using internal TI documents made public through US litigation, we reveal the industry's nearly 40-year effort to influence health policy related to secondhand smoke, including attempts to block Italy's national smoke-free legislation. Strategies included manipulating hospitality groups and establishing front organizations, manipulating journalists and media, and manipulating the science and direct lobbying against smoking restrictions. The TI's extensive plan to thwart smoke-free efforts in Italy can be used to inform other countries about the industry's tactics and Italy's experience in overcoming them by ultimately implementing a comprehensive workplace smoke-free law. (+info)
Cooperation and the evolution of intelligence.
Fifty adult patients presenting with deliberate self-harm at the Royal Victoria Hospital were given a choice of nine reasons for their actions. Most chose more than one reason and all but two of the 24 who said that they wished to die chose at least one other motive. There were no trends with respect to sex, past history, or method of deliberate self-harm. These results illustrate the complexity of this condition and show the importance of investigating motives beyond simply the intent to die. (+info)