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May 1991

Poverty and the Health of American Children: Implications for Academic Pediatrics

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(5):507-509. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160050033006

The headline of a recent editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer posed a loaded question: "How is it that we have such great hospitals—and such poor public health?" (August 22, 1989:14-A).

The reference point was Philadelphia in which "hightech progress and abysmal public health performance... coexist too comfortably." Instead of just "cranking out specialists," the editorial said, "academic medicine ought to be taking stock of its broader mission—preventing sickness, making care more easily available and figuring ways to improve the state of public health." The present focus of medical schools has led to sophisticated methods of treatment but has left too much undone, too many unserved, in a nation with the resources and imagination to make life healthier, even for the poorest, most vulnerable of its people.... On matters of public health, academic medicine has been embarrassingly slow to show leadership.... Doctors have won heroic fights to save babies. But

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