Ernesto Moralez’s Vision: Revamping Strategies in the Management of Chronic Health Challenges

In the dynamic world of global health, chronic diseases are responsible for around 60% of all global deaths. Traditional approaches to how to deal with such public health concerns mostly revolved around the issue of personal responsibility, calling for preventative actions such as modification of diets and an increase in physical exercise. Ernesto Moralez, a leader in public health education and research discredits this traditional outlook, advocating for one that is innovative and inspired by strategies employed previously in controlling infectious diseases.

Historically, the shadow of mortality has been cast by infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia. However, the public health story made a significant change at the dawn of the 20th century, when there were demographic changes in industrialized countries, which translated to an increased number of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Despite lacking infectious traits, these conditions play a pivotal role in the global mortality landscape.

Public health strategies dominated by prevention, shifting lifestyles, or pharmaceuticals fail to address the constant causes of chronic disease. Ernesto Moralez suggests that relying on these strategies to prevent chronic disease is simply not good enough, as attempts to motivate people into healthier behaviors often arrive far too late in the course of their disease.

Moralez reviews strategies effective for infectious disease control as presenting an opportunity for a paradigm shift. By focusing on vectors like mosquitoes and ticks, Moralez has identified potential applications for addressing chronic diseases. This data analysis of disease clustering therefore suggests the imperative of addressing the root cause, especially in low-income areas that have limited access to healthcare, high unemployment, and unfavorable conditions in their neighborhoods.

Moralez recommends zoning policies that restrict the sale of tobacco and vaping products, underlying the connection between disease clusters and the promotion and accessibility of products such as these. Other than attributing the responsibility to a personal choice, his focus lies on changing the environmental factors responsible for stimulating those choices made by the individual. The prevalence of tobacco and liquor stores in low-income neighborhoods creates a pattern reminiscent of contagion.

Ernesto Moralez observes the unproductive nature of “disproportional moral responsibility” placed on citizens by promoting systemic reform as an alternative. Moralez supports a lasting systemic reformation by attacking the underlying reasons behind chronic diseases and enforcing policies on the sale of harmful products in certain communities.

These are clearly seen in Moralez’s curriculum and the forthcoming textbook he co-authored, Introduction to Public Health, to be published in 2024. Through these materials, Moralez aims not only to impart public health knowledge to college students but also to help reframe mindsets in future public health professionals combating chronic diseases.