Maybe, it is the jetlag but as the first full conference day in San Francisco winds down I cannot help but think of the huge contradictions, the contrast between aspiration and living that I have seen after just a few hours in town. The largest gathering of public health professionals in the world with an expected 13,000 delegates with their shiny name badges on the one side, who are well shielded inside an enormous convention centre and multiple satellite hotels, well meaning and effortful; and the streets around Union Square and Market Street with all the glittering high end brand names with countless nameless people scattered in front of them who desperately clutch the paper cup that rattles with a few dimes and perhaps even quarters, not seeming to know what the next day will bring. Ingeniously, one street musician used empty plastic buckets and bottles to create something unique and captivating in the absence of ‘standard instruments’ while just a couple of blocks away a busy Jazz restaurant attracts a more affluent crowd, Memorable to me, the young man in his standard issue wheelchair, too unwieldy and large to be practical and a far cry from modern sports wheelchairs, who sought shelter in an entrance way to a shop. The number of blankets around him suggested that he would spend the night there.
A country so large, so affluent still arguing about the benefits of universal health care coverage, with the highest health care expenditures in the world and with poorer health outcomes than far less wealthier nations. The presential election is less than a couple of weeks away. But who will vote? Who will make use of the vote?
This afternoon at the poster session, where the employment experiences after cancer study (Wells et al.) – which had involved several SDHI team members – was presented a lot of the discussion focussed on how employers can make adjustments in the workplace, especially when they perceive fundamental economic pressures themselves.
More impressions from the sessions tomorrow, including Twitter.
Oh, and for the record, the San Francisco Giants have just won the World Series title beating the Detroit Tigers.