Inside the US Supreme Court’s war on science

A new ultraconservative supermajority on the United States’ top court is undermining science’s role in informing public policy. Scholars fear the results could be disastrous for public health, justice and democracy itself.

Jeff Tollefson

Nature | September 14, 2022

Illustration by Sébastien Thibault

In late June, the US Supreme Court issued a trio of landmark decisions that repealed the right to abortion, loosened gun restrictions and curtailed climate regulations. Although the decisions differed in rationale, they share a distinct trait: all three dismissed substantial evidence about how the court’s rulings would affect public health and safety. It is a troubling trend that many scientists fear could undermine the role of scientific evidence in shaping public policy. Now, as the court prepares to consider a landmark case on electoral policies, many worry about the future of American democracy itself.
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With IMF in the picture, Sri Lanka’s public health sector faces a new crisis

Which the current economic crisis has had a disastrous impact on the health sector, the conditions that will be imposed as part of a possible IMF deal could bring about long-term structural challenges

Shriya Singh

People’s Dispatch | April 30, 2022

Photo via Newsfirst Sri Lanka

In a stalemate between the people of Sri Lanka and the government, the health sector stands on the threshold of collapse as the country runs out of essential medicines. 

The health crisis in Sri Lanka reached alarming levels this month due to an acute shortage of medicines and medical equipment in hospitals. Hospitals, doctors and unions have been putting out calls for donations on social media requesting help for essential medicines, without which several health services have already come to a halt.

Due to a shortage of anesthetic drugs, the Director-General of Health Services, Dr. Asela Gunawardena announced that all except emergency surgeries have been suspended. As of mid-April, nearly 124 medical items were out of stock, reported The Sunday Morning.

The shortage of medicines has led to hospitals being forced to re-use equipment or substitute drugs. Concerned doctors, medical officers and unions have been holding protests to demand action from the government.

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Cuts to local government funding and stalling life expectancy

Dan Lewer & Jo Bibby

The Lancet | Open Access | Published: July 12, 2021 | DOI:

Local authorities in England provide a huge range of services that contribute to health and wellbeing, including care for vulnerable children and adults, road maintenance, refuse collection, parks, libraries, and sexual health services. Between 2010 and 2017, government funding for local authorities halved.1 As a result of these cuts, spending has become more narrowly focused on statutory responsibilities, such as social care, with other services falling behind.

Two of the hardest-hit services which have a crucial role in people’s health and wellbeing are housing, including support for people who are homeless, and treatment for drug and alcohol problems. Councils commission charities and NHS organisations to provide these services and many are now struggling financially.23 Meanwhile, the estimated number of homeless deaths increased by 64% between 2014 and 2019,4 and the number of drug misuse-related deaths increased by 35% between 2013 and 2018.5 The reduction in local government funding has been unequal across the country, with greater cuts in more deprived areas and in the north of England.

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Fidel Castro: A champion of public health

by Abhay Shukla

Down To Earth | December 21, 2016


The demise of Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a huge loss to the global public health. As the leader of the island nation of Cuba for nearly half-a-century, Fidel not only led exemplary initiatives to ensure healthcare for all within the country, but also ensured that Cuban doctors were the first to reach out to people in developing countries during natural disasters. Under Fidel, Cuban medical scientists also developed cutting-edge measures to combat diseases, ranging from meningitis to cancers.Read More »

COVID-19 exposes austerity attacks on Canada’s public health system in Ontario

by Drew Garvie

People’s World | March 30, 2020

COVID-19 exposes austerity attacks on Canada’s public health system in Ontario

Richard has his temperature taken by Kathleen, a staff member, during a screening process, before he is allowed into The Sanctuary Drop-In Centre in Toronto, March 26. COVID-19 could soon “explode” within Toronto’s homeless population. People who work with the city’s homeless say more are on the streets because many drop-in and respite sites have closed, while others must limit their numbers inside. The austerity crisis also extends inside hospitals. | Chris Young / The Canadian Press via AP

TORONTO—Ontario will likely be one of the Canadian provinces hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. The province has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19, while it is last in the country when it comes to per capita expenditures on hospitals. Almost three decades of a corporate austerity agenda has decimated health care and opened up the sector to privatization.

Canada’s most populous province has been leading the neoliberal austerity charge for several years, having the lowest per capita spending on social programs and pushing down social spending in the rest of Canada in a race to the bottom. From 1995 to 2003, the Conservative government of Mike Harris drastically sped up the introduction of neoliberal reforms in the province, with a slash and burn approach.

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A Covid-19 Vaccine Quickly And Cheaply


Countercurrents | March 16, 2020

The urgent need for a vaccine

Public health experts say that if the COVID-19 epidemic is not successfully contained, it could become a global pandemic, perhaps spreading to 80% of the world’s population. With a 1% mortality rate, this would mean that 70 million people would die of the disease. With a 2% mortality rate, the total number of deaths would be twice that number, 140 million people. Comparable numbers of people have died in the tragic wars and pandemics of the past. There is a serious danger that it might happen again.Read More »

Leading health experts warn that U.S. is past coronavirus containment

People’s World | March 14, 2020

Leading health experts warn that U.S. is past coronavirus containment

Shoppers visit a Costco store in Tigard, Ore., on Feb. 29 after reports of Oregon’s first case of coronavirus was announced in the nearby city of Lake Oswego. Gillian Flaccus | AP


Editor’s note: The University of California at San Francisco Hospital is considered a leading health institution in the U.S. with specialization in treatment and handling of infectious disease. Like many other institutions of this type, it has put together one or more panels of experts to study the current crisis and to make proposals to the government and suggestions to the public. Unlike the press briefings prepared by the task force put together by the Trump administration, these doctors and experts do not filter their findings through a president more interested in the stock market than the health of the American people.

Peoples World prints what follows as a service to our readers and the public. The following are notes describing the main assessments of the UCSF panel when it met on March 10. They were posted online by Dr. Jordan Schlain at UCSF. The notes summarize the assessment of the official meeting on that date of the University of California, San Francisco BioHub Panel on COVID-19. While some of the findings are extremely troubling the assessments also include practical suggestions people can follow in dealing with this serious pandemic, particularly given that we have a health care system in this country which is in and of itself worthy of being declared a national emergency.

John Wojcik, editor in chief

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U.S: NNU Statement on Florida School Shooting ‘Gun Violence is a Significant Public Health Issue’

National Nurses United | February 15, 2018

WASHINGTON – National Nurses United today joined with millions of other alarmed Americans in calling for meaningful action in response to the school shooting in Parkland, FL, as well as similar shootings across the U.S. this year alone.

“These horrific mass shootings, especially ones occurring in schools and other public settings, are not only a terrible tragedy for the families involved, but a growing public health emergency,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.Read More »

Open letter to WHO on industrial animal farming

Pambazuka News | May 31, 2017

On 23 May 2017 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia was elected WHO Director-General. In a letter released a head of the election, over 200 scientists, policy experts and others concerned persons are urging the new Director-General to recognize and address factory farming as a growing public health challenge. Just as the WHO has bravely confronted companies that harm human health by peddling tobacco and sugar-sweetened beverages, it must not waver in advocating for the regulation of industrial animal farming.


Unprecedented and rising levels of industrial animal farming are undermining the highest attainable standard of health that is WHO’s mandate. During the 2016 World Health Assembly, Director-General Margaret Chan highlightedclimate change, antibiotic resistance, and chronic diseases as “slow-motion disasters.” However, their fundamental link to industrial animal farming has continued to be disregarded.

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WHO rewards Cuba’s Henry Reeve Contingent for international solidarity efforts

Granma | 01 February, 2017

Photo: Granma

On January 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) awarded its Prize for Public Health to Cuba’s Henry Reeve Contingent, in recognition of its international solidarity efforts combating natural disasters and serious epidemics.

According to a statement released by the Cuban Embassy in Geneva, cited by PL, the decision was unanimously reached during the 140th session of the WHO Executive Board.

Established in 2009, the Doctor Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health recognizes the work of people, institutions and organizations that make a significant contribution to the field of public health.Read More »