Flint's Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: 'I challenge you to raise your voice loud'

Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, the pediatrician who brought attention to the Flint, Mich., water crisis, delivered an important message at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington: "I challenge you to raise your voice loud when others urge you to be quiet."

Dr. Hanna-Attisha delivered these words of wisdom during a speech at IWU Founders Day, according to a report from The Pantagraph.

"It's hard to raise your voice. It's scary," she said, according to the report. "Do not fear being the dissenter. Whether you are fighting big or small injustices, raise your voice."

Dr. Hanna-Attisha, who is the director of Flint-based Hurley Medical Center's pediatric residency program, was among the first to realize there was a lead poisoning crisis in Flint and worked to bring attention to the issue, despite denial from state officials.

Flint sourced water from the Flint River from 2014 to late 2015, when it switched to Lake Huron. During that time period, hundreds of children suffered from lead poisoning due the toxic levels of lead in the Flint River. Dr. Hanna-Attisha first heard there were high levels of lead in the water supply in late August 2015. Pulling blood test result data from the EHR, her team was able to demonstrate the percentage of children with elevated levels of lead in their blood was doubling and tripling in various neighborhoods. These findings were so pressing, she decided to release the results of her team's study at a press conference in September 2015. Even after the findings were presented, the state disputed them for a week before reviewing them and agreeing they were correct.

Speaking from this experience, Dr. Hanna-Attisha expressed the importance of speaking out about injustices, particularly when "the credibility of science is under attack, from climate change to vaccines," according to the report.

 

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