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Our top 10 stories of 2022

Readers went for in-depth stories on maternal mortality, racism, and climate change. Calls to action on gun violence and mpox also caught attention.
Filed Under
Written by
Christine Mehta
December 20, 2022
Read Time
4 min

Since our launch in June 2022, thousands of you have visited our pages and read our stories. Our top ten reads of the year reflect your wide-ranging interests on topics from racism, gun violence, to climate change. These are the stories you clicked on most this year.

10. The new COVID booster is here. Here’s how to get shots into arms.

A middle-aged white man, wearing a wide-brim tan hat, red shirt, and blue facemasks, gets a COVID-19 shot by a technician wearing blue latex gloves and a facemask.
Photo: Kristopher Radder / The Brattleboro Reformer via AP Photos

Medical doctor KJ Seung highlights the slow uptake of the new COVID-19 booster this fall, even amongst the elderly and vulnerable. He says local public health departments can do much more to increase vaccination in the U.S.

9. An open letter to the Biden administration on Mpox

A blue, white and gray sign reads “Monkeypox Vaccine Clinic Right To Access”. It it taped to a storefront window. A “DC Health” logo is affixed to an entrance door in the lower right-hand corner of the image.
Photo: Patrick Semansky / AP Photo

A group of scholars, activists, and members of the queer and trans community called on the Biden administration in August to create and implement a more comprehensive response to the mpox outbreak around the world. They called on the administration to engage affected communities, allocate funding, and support front-line responders.  

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8. Carbon capture: climate change’s “healthy” cigarette.

A partially used cigarette against a blue sky.
Photo: Fried Dough / Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Medical doctor Laalitha Surapaneni’s op-ed on carbon capture spread like wildfire on social media. In the 1950s, the tobacco industry made millions selling “healthy cigarettes,” even though they knew smoking killed. Surapaneni asks, “decades later, will the fossil fuel industry get away with selling us ‘healthy’ carbon?”

7. Standout voices in African public health.

Six headshots of African leaders on a yellow background.

Our Spring 2022 issue was dedicated to covering the innovation and new ideas shaping public health in Africa. Our editors put together a list of notable leaders forging a new path for public health on the continent. They represent a growing field of leaders shaping policy and practice in Africa.

6. We can’t ban guns. But we can make them safer.

Assault rifles hang on a yellow pegboard.

In the wake of mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, the U.S. passed its first federal law restricting access to guns in 25 years. Harvard Public Health asked gun violence and safety experts whether the law would stem the rising number of gun deaths in the U.S.

5. Apartheid’s legacy on South Africa’s public health

Ntobeko Ntusi stands in a hallway in a non-descript building. Windows are open behind his shoulders showing a blue sky. He wears a navy blue suit, white shirt and tie. He is black and has close-cut hair.
Photo: Samantha Reinders

Black medical students are now the majority in South Africa, but racism persists in medical schools and the health care system. Science writer Linda Nordling explores how the legacy of apartheid still echoes in the halls of the country’s medical schools and hospitals.

4. Postpartum health in crisis

A white middle-aged woman sits in a living room. She wears a green cardigan, tank top and jeans, and her hair is braided in a single braid; hands clapsed in her lap. Surrounding her are children's toys, a bin on the floor and a fireplace with photos.
Photo: Kent Dayton

Reporting from journalist Dana Smith spotlights the U.S.’s abysmal maternal mortality rates, especially for Black women who were nearly three times as likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth in 2020. Smith speaks to experts to understand why maternal mortality persists at such high rates, and what to do about it.

3. We’re already ignoring the next pandemic

Photo illustration: Image of a single fluorescent virus on a light green background

AMR Action Fund CEO Henry Skinner argues in this important op-ed that antibiotic resistance is the world’s next major pandemic challenge. Bacteria evolve rapidly, constantly eluding our attempts to keep pace. The AMR Action Fund is a new initiative to support antibiotic development by investing in biotech companies. Skinner calls for a “new golden age of antibiotics,” and says it’s time for policymakers to prioritize this growing global threat. 

2. Who is a difficult patient?

Illustration: A woman, dressed in blue, sits on an oversized pill in the left foreground. In the top right, a group of doctors stand with their arms crossed. The illustrations are on a dark blue static background.
Illustration: Mary Delaware

Medical student John C. Messinger writes about how “difficult” patients taught him the power of stigma in addiction medicine. In this moving essay, Messinger lays out why doctors are so reluctant to enter a field that so desperately needs them.

1. What science tells us about structural racism’s health impact.

A young, brown girl with her in a bun and a blue barrette, wears a blue shirt and green beaded necklace, and holds an inhaler. She is drawn on top of a black and white city map with red lines over both the map and her figure. The drawing is on a blush background.
Illustration: Noah Lawrence-Holder

Rod McCollum’s deeply reported story lays out the clear and ongoing connection between practices like redlining and disparities in illness and life expectancy between Black and white Americans from birth to old age. The story is beautifully illustrated by Black, nonbinary artist, Noah Lawrence-Holder.

Filed Under
Christine Mehta
Christine Mehta is the senior editor for ideas and opinions at Harvard Public Health. Read more from Christine Mehta.

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