Biology

Framing the discussion of microorganisms as a facet of social equity in human health

by Suzanne L. Ishaq, Maurisa Rapp, Risa Byerly, Loretta S. McClellan, Maya R. O’Boyle, Anika Nykanen, Patrick J. Fuller, Calvin Aas, Jude M. Stone, Sean Killpatrick, Manami M. Uptegrove, Alex Vischer, Hannah Wolf, Fiona Smallman, Houston Eymann, Simon Narode, Ellee Stapleton, Camille C. Cioffi, Hannah F. Tavalire

What do “microbes” have to do with social equity? These microorganisms are integral to our health, that of our natural environment, and even the “health” of the environments we build. The loss, gain, and retention of microorganisms—their flow between humans and the environment—can greatly impact our health. It is well-known that inequalities in access to perinatal care, healthy foods, quality housing, and the natural environment can create and arise from social inequality. Here, we focus on the argument that access to beneficial microorganisms is a facet of public health, and health inequality may be compounded by inequitable microbial exposure.

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