young african american woman suffering from abdominal pain while sitting on bed

‘Below the Belt’ Exposes the Silent Crisis of Endometriosis Care

By Timothy Bonis

Premiering tonight on PBS, the film Below the Belt sheds light on endometriosis by documenting four women’s experiences with the disease.

Endometriosis is a silent crisis. One in ten women have it, yet, on average, people with the condition see seven doctors before they get diagnosed. Many experience severe pain, and the disease costs the American economy $80 billion annually in lost productivity, but the standard treatments are outdated and ineffectual.

Below the Belt exposes the failures in practice and policy that have led to the poor state of endometriosis care. Medical students usually don’t learn about endometriosis in medical school, and as a result, most general practitioners can’t recognize it. The majority of gynecologists treat endometriosis with hormones — which have serious side effects and bring little relief — and an ineffective surgery called ablation. Others continue to recommend the 20th-century approach, a hysterectomy. This dismal selection of treatments reflects the state of endometriosis research; historically, the disease has received less than $10 million in research funding per year (compared to $1 billion for diabetes, an equally common condition among women).

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umbrella covering home under heavy rain.

Weathering the Climate Crisis: The Health Benefits and Policy Challenges of Home Weatherization

By James R. Jolin

Weatherization serves as an important yet strikingly neglected tool not only to meet vulnerable communities’ energy needs, but also to combat the negative health effects associated with the climate crisis.

In the United States, households with lower gross income experience higher “energy burdens” — that is, the proportion of a household’s income that is expended to meet energy costs. Indeed, households earning 200% of the federal poverty line spend an estimated 8% of their income on meeting energy costs, as compared to the national median of 3%. Weatherization, the catch-all term for home improvements intended to improve the efficiency of home energy use, is a way to decrease disparate energy costs across socioeconomic classes.

Standard weatherization measures, which include (but are not limited to) repairing and modernizing temperature control systems and installing insulation, reduce the amount of money households need to spend on heating and cooling. In all, weatherization measures save over $280 on average per year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy — a modest but nonetheless important savings.

Crucially, however, weatherization also confers significant health benefits, which are not only ideal in their own right, but also result in further significant financial savings.

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