Health is a need, a basic requirement for life. Needs can become rights when bodies of people, usually governments or organizations such as the World Health Organization sanction them. While many have declared health as a right, the greatest burden of illness continues to be carried by minority and medically underserved populations. Also, industrialization, urbanization, economic development, and food market globalization have brought with them the poor health habits that place people at risk for cardiovascular and other diseases. Improved health habits and universal health care coverage would help to address the health needs of all.
Human Needs: Health
Toba Schwaber Kerson
Public Health Social Work
Sarah Gehlert, Julie A. Cederbaum, and Betty J. Ruth
Public health social work is a substantive area within the discipline of social work that applies social work and public health theories, frameworks, research, and collaborative practices to address contemporary health issues through a transdisciplinary lens. It is epidemiologically informed and characterized by prevention, health promotion, and other integrative practices. With its strong focus on health impact and population health, public health social work is central to the profession’s viability and success for tackling pervasive 21st-century challenges, such as health inequity, behavioral health integration, chronic disease, health reform implementation, and global health.
Julian Samora (1920–1996) was a researcher and scholar in sociology and Mexican American studies and the first Mexican American in the fields of sociology and anthropology. He was professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame.
Gonzalez Molina de la Caro, Dolores
John F. Longres
Dolores Gonzalez Molina de la Caro (1910–1979) was a pioneer in mental health training, public welfare, public health, school health, and university counseling in Puerto Rico. She was director of the Bureau of Medical Social Work and Mental Health Program.
Eliot, Martha May
Jean K. Quam
Martha May Eliot (1891–1978) was an educator and public health official. She was the first woman president of the American Public Health Association. She became chief medical consultant for UNICEF in 1947. She was later assistant director general of WHO, and the U.S. representative to the executive board of UNICEF.
Ruth Irelan Knee
Milton Wittman (1915–1994) was a social worker, writer, and leader in social work, public health, and mental health. He played a key role in the expansion of opportunities for social work education and for the involvement of social workers in the provision of mental health services.
Homelessness and Macro Interventions
Eva M. Moya, Amy Joyce-Ponder, Jacquelin I. Cordero, Silvia M. Chávez-Baray, and Margie Rodriguez LeSage
The emergence of social work and macro practice is often associated with the eradication of poverty and prevention of homelessness through the efforts of 19th century settlement houses. Structural violence and social determinants of homelessness are often grounded in unequal social, political, and economic conditions. Health and mental health were affected by the lack of stable housing, causing and increasing the complexity of health and human service needs and services. Furthermore, due to inequities, some populations are inadvertently more likely to face chronic homelessness, which can be mitigated through the role community-engagement and macro practice interventions.
Jessica Euna Lee
Within its 150-year history, public health has grown from a focus on local communities to include countrywide, then international, and now global perspectives. Drawing upon the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, this article provides an overview of global public health within the broadest possible context of the world and all of its peoples. Also provided are the global burden of disease as measured in disability-adjusted life years, global health statistics, current health priorities, and recommendations for action by social workers and other health professionals.
Vimla Nadkarni and Roopashri Sinha
The entry outlines a historical and global overview of women’s health in the context of human rights and public health activism. It unravels social myths, traditional norms, and stereotypes impacting women’s health because social workers must understand the diverse factors affecting women’s health in a continually changing and globalized world. There is need for more inclusive feminist and human rights models to study and advocate women’s health. There is as much scope for working with women in a more holistic manner as there is for researching challenging issues and environments shaping women’s health.
Chunn, Jay Carrington, II
Tanya Smith Brice
Jay Carrington Chunn, II, (1938–2013), was a leader in social work education, a professor, and an author who focused on public health and policy within urban populations.
Homer Folks (1867–1967) was a social work pioneer, recognizing illness as a major cause of poverty. His public service activities included the care of dependent children, mental hygiene, tuberculosis control, public assistance programs, social research, and corrections and parole.
Drug Policy Reform
Sheila P. Vakharia
Social workers are uniquely qualified to be effective drug policy advocates for effective and equitable policies through their commitment to advancing social welfare and promoting social justice. The prohibitionist antidrug policies that began at the turn of the 20th century have been a key driver for the criminalization of millions of Americans over time, a disproportionate number of whom have been people of color. The period beginning with President Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs,” in addition to contributing to inequality and marginalization, has exacerbated a number of public health and safety harms, suggesting that past policy approaches have not met their intended aims. The North American opioid overdose crisis in the early 21st century is presented as an illustrative case study because its persistence and mounting death toll exemplify the challenges with the current model of drug prohibition. Areas for macro social work interventions include legislative advocacy through lobbying, provision of expert testimony in legislative hearings, engagement in reform through litigation, involvement in social action, and performing policy analysis and research.
Beveridge, Lord William
Lord William Beveridge (1879–1963) was one of the founders of the British welfare state. His report of 1942 formed the basis for the Labour Government's social policies between 1945 and 1950 and fostered the creation of Britain's national health services.
Fernandis, Sarah A. Collins
Sarah Fernandis (1863–1951) was a civic leader and organizer of public health activities in Black communities. She founded the first black social settlement in the United States. In 1920, she became the first Black social worker employed in the City Venereal Disease Clinic of the Baltimore Health Department.
Mayo, Leonard Withington
Alvin L. Schorr
Leonard Withington Mayo (1899–1993) was concerned with child welfare, mental retardation, and public health. He was dean and vice president at Western Reserve University, professor at Colby College, and served on four White House Conferences on Children and Youth.
Pandemics and Social Work
A pandemic contains three key components: extensiveness, novelty, and severity. For the past century, humankind experienced the Spanish flu in 1918 and COVID-19 in 2020 as major pandemics. The global impact has been extensive in terms of their origin, international transmission, and mortality rates. Public health measures to slow and stop pandemics have been implemented. During the COVID-19 pandemic, disparate impacts on health in different populations have been witnessed due to existing social inequalities, detriments of health, and structured racism. The interests of social workers have been adversely impacted in those pandemic times. Spanish flu bolstered social work with a professional presence. COVID-19 has confirmed the need for community engagement and community development to follow large-scale social policy reforms as a response to the disproportionate impact on diverse marginalized communities, which is the core of macro social work practice and would be more strongly called on to prepare for future pandemics.
Titmuss, Richard Morris
Richard Morris Titmuss (1907–1973) was a scholar, administrator, and educator who developed the subject area of social policy and administration as an intellectually respectable field of inquiry. He was chair of Social Administration at the London School of Economics.
Stigmatization and Labeling
Sandra Edmonds Crewe and Julie Guyot-Diangone
This article provides an overview of the phenomenon of labeling and stigma. Research studies are used to illuminate the many ways devalued or discredited identities negatively affect the health and well-being of stigmatized groups and additionally burden the socially and economically marginalized. In addition to conveying an understanding of the social process by which a stigma is developed and the role that culture plays in defining and determining any given stigma, this article offers ways in which social work professionals may counter stigma through education/awareness campaigns and in routine client interactions. Anti-stigma work is presented from social justice and ethical perspectives. Stigma as a social construct is discussed, along with its link to discrimination and prejudice. The article helps to unpack the meaning of stigma, including descriptions of the various forms, levels, and dimensions it may take, affecting all spheres of life, including the social, psychological, spiritual, and physical.
Rene Sand (1877–1953), Belgian social worker and physician, was best known in the field of social work for being co-founder of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) in 1928, and serving as its president from 1946 to 1953.
Medicaid and Medicare
Victoria M. Rizzo, Sojeong Lee, and Rebekah Kukowski
In 1965, Titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act were passed, creating Medicare and Medicaid and laying the foundation for U.S. healthcare policy. Originally, Medicare was created to meet the specific medical needs of adults aged 65 and older. In 2022, individuals with end-stage renal disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and other disabilities may also receive Medicare, regardless of age. Medicaid was established to provide a basic level of medical care to specific categories of people who are poor, including pregnant women, children, and the aged. As of 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states are provided with the opportunity to expand Medicaid to close the coverage gap for public health insurance. This entry provides explanations of Medicaid and Medicare and associated social healthcare programs in the United States. An overview of significant programming developments and trends, future directions, challenges, and controversies as of 2021 are also provided.