by Jonathan King
In November, the American Public Health Association celebrated its 150th Anniversary at its national Conference in Boston. Every state in the union has a state Public Health Association, all chapters of APHA.The Massachusetts Public Health Association has joined MAPA’s Fund Healthcare not Warfare campaign, and with their assistance as well as support from Patrice Sutton and Dr. Bob Gould of the long established APHA Peace Caucus, we were able to mount a number of sessions addressing issues of war, peace and economic priorities at the national convention.
Of particular value was a plenary session entitled “Fund Healthcare Not Warfare” attended by more than 250 Conference attendees.
The session featured Deborah Burger, President of the National Nurses United; Shailly Gupta Barnes, Policy Director of the Poor People’s campaign, Dr. Alan Myers and me, representing the Fund Healthcare Not Warfare Campaign. The Moderators were two former Presidents of the APHA, Dr. Barry Levy, and Linda Murray. The speakers addressed the inadequate investment in various aspects of the very incoherent public health system, from nursing resources, to health insurance, to vaccine development, as well as the overall damage to human health from war in any theatre.
MAPA’s Brian Garvey also presented on the tragedy in Yemen, in another major APHA session on public health consequences of wars. A number of sessions focused on civilian casualties of foreign wars.
Due in part to decades of work by the APHA Peace Caucus, the APHA is on record supporting most national nuclear disarmament initiatives. However, the actual Congressional appropriations of funds for war and weapons purchases has generally nor been addressed. Thus, despite the dependence of this community on federal and state funding, there were very few sessions on the Congressional appropriations process, or State appropriations.
Next year’s APHA Annual Meeting will be in Atlanta in early November 2023. Working together with the Peace Caucus our FHCNWF campaign will be proposing a number of sessions for the Atlanta meeting. These will include increased focus on Congressional Budget decisions, and also on the failure of Congress to adequately fund the Veteran’s Administration, which is not included in the Defense budget, but is on the civilian side of the federal budget.
In the interim, we hope to link up members of Peace Action affiliates with APHA Peace Caucus members in those states. Pressing the APHA leadership to instruct their Washington staff s to implement APHA policies calling for cuts in military spending and nuclear weapons will require pressure from many states.
Jonathan King chairs MAPA’s Fund Healthcare Not Warfare working group and co-chairs MAPA’s board of directors.