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Global Health Thought Leadership

Contagious Conversations Podcast Explores Climate Change and Health, Homelessness, Other Health Challenges

By Claire Stinson

Did you know the World Health Organization (WHO) now describes climate change as the greatest health threat of the 21st century? But how does climate change affect health? This is just one topic we explore in our CDC Foundation podcast, Contagious Conversations. The podcast features monthly, compelling interviews with experts who are tackling some of the world’s toughest health challenges.

Since we launched the podcast in 2019, we have interviewed nonprofit leaders (including former Gates Foundation CEO Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Dr. Richard Besser), government officials (CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky), and public health advocates (Dr. Jim Curran from Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health and Dr. Georges Benjamin from APHA).

Our most recent episode focuses on the link between people experiencing homelessness and public health. Homelessness is an issue that has significant impact on both individuals as well as communities across the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), homelessness is known to increase the risk for infectious diseases such as viral hepatitis (especially hepatitis C), tuberculosis, HIV and COVID-19. People experiencing homelessness also commonly face mental illness, alcohol and substance use disorder, diabetes and heart and lung disease. 

I spoke about this issue with Emily Mosites, PhD, MPH, epidemiologist and senior advisor on special populations to the Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases at CDC. Recognizing gaps in public health protections for many people experiencing homelessness, Dr. Mosites launched a CDC-wide working group to address the issue. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, she initiated and led the COVID-19 Response Homelessness Unit, and now leads a team within the deputy director’s office focused on ensuring that broad public health protections extend fully to people experiencing homelessness. 

Be sure to check out more episodes of Contagious Conversations, available wherever you get your podcasts.

Claire Stinson is a communications officer for the CDC Foundation.


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