War as a determinant of health and inequity

War is a health equity issue: It creates substantial unjust health disparities that are both unnecessary and preventable.  JHA’s Executive Director, Linn Gould and colleagues James Gould and Steve Gilbert just returned from the American Public Health Association Conference in Boston where we presented on Women Peacemakers: An Online Educational Tool.  We discussed the history of the women’s peacemaking movement and  a Women Peacemakers poster which is clickable and will take one to a longer biography located at a new women’s peacemaking website (www.womeninpeace.org – The site is still in development and we welcome your comments).  We concluded the presentation by stating that we need more women to lead in peacemaking in order to end war.

Our Women’s Peacemaking presentation and poster coincides with the publication of
Bartlein et al’s new article called Staging a conference to frame war as a public health problem at the University of Washington War & Global Health conference back in the Spring of 2010.  JHA had the opportunity to facilitate JHA’s “Causes of the Causes” exercise.  The root cause diagramming exercise asked conference participants to parse out the “upstream” contributing factors to war.   Participants cited upstream factors including but not limited to corporate power, racism, inequality, capitalism, revenge, religious differences, resources, testosterone, and more. To quote Rebecca Bartlein et al: “The discourse resulted in consensus that conflict is inevitable among human beings but war is a planned decision to escalate conflict, driven by political and economic factors.  Recognizing that war is a preventable phenomenon associated with precipitating and perpetuating factors makes it amenable to public health interventions”.

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