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Science & Medicine: A Crisis of Loneliness

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Roberto Martinez

Loneliness and social isolation can make you as sick as obesity or 15 cigarettes a day.

"And what that relates to is a 29% increase risk for heart disease, 32% increased risk for stroke and 50% increased risk for dementia amongst older and older adults in particular," said Jason Rosenfeld, the director of global health education at the Cheever Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics at UT Health San Antonio.

He's working to address a crisis of loneliness in the U.S. by adapting a community health model from Africa.

"Community health clubs bring people together with a purpose, to share time and space on a weekly basis, to learn together about the drivers of health and what they can do to, address the social determinants of health in their community, and most importantly, to take action with what they learn," he said

Jason Rosenfeld, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., CHW-I
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

In San Antonio, the initiative is called the Health Confianza, and it’s an expansion of the initiative in the Rio Grande Valley, where participants report a sense of “convivencia."

"Of being together and being part of something a little bit bigger than yourself, which aligns with the core principle of Ubuntu, which is at the foundation of our community health club model," he said. "I am because we are."

Right now, there are 25 community health clubs in San Antonio.

Science & Medicine is a collaboration between TPR and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, about how scientific discovery in San Antonio advances the way medicine is practiced everywhere.