Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is among USA TODAY's Women of the Century. To honor the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we've put together a list of 100 women who've made a significant influence on our nation or our lives over the past 100 years. Read about them all at usatoday.com/WomenoftheCentury. Dr. MonaHanna-Attisha couldn't wait.
The pediatrician had discovered raised lead levels in the blood of children in Flint, Michigan. She had proof the city's water, piped in from the Flint River, was poisoned with lead. In September 2015, she sounded the alarm
leaders, journalists, activists– for months.”I never must have had to do that research study. Obviously the water crisis never should have started. It needs to have stopped when that very first mama held a jug of brown water.” She said she felt small, defeated. “I had a frustrating sense of imposter syndrome, that possibly I shouldn't have actually done this. Possibly I must have simply kept setting about my business as a busy mama, pediatrician, partner.”
Nothing can prepare you for when the entire state pursues you and tells you you're incorrect.”Obviously, she wasn't incorrect. Neither were all the others who had actually been demanding change for Flint, a city with a majority Black population. The city had actually started using Flint River water in April 2014. “So it took awhile,”
said Hanna-Attisha, now an associate teacher of pediatrics and human advancement at Michigan State University,” however finally with team effort and determination and more science, we did speak truth to power.
“Females of the Century: For Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, advocacy is ingrained in her culture In 2015, Pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, 43, proved to the world that the water in Flint, Michigan was tainted with lead. U.S.A. TODAY Concern: How is the quality of water in Flint now? Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Just a few weeks after(journalism conference), we switched back to Great Lakes water. So that was in October of 2015. And since then our water quality has actually been
improving in time. Nevertheless, the year and a half that we were on this super-corrosive water harmed our lead pipes, and those are being replaced today. Within a few months this year, in 2020, those pipes will all be changed. Which is a substantial success, we'll just be the 3rd city
in the nation that has changed our lead pipes. But until those pipes are changed, people
are still on the precautions to filter their water and to use bottled water.< div class="center-well"id="asset-4945141002
=””data-in-view-event =”oembed-4945141002 “> And how are the kids who were exposed to the lead? We've released something called the Flint Registry that's supported by the Centers for Disease Control, where we are identifying those who were exposed. Most importantly, getting them connected to the services to promote their health and advancement and following them gradually. We are starting to get that information right now about how that population of kids and even adults are doing. … There's worry about advancement and behavior and lots of other possible issues that might have been connected to this water crisis. It was supper with a
good friend from high school, an ecological engineer, that began your research. So we were hanging out, having a glass of red wine, kids are playing, my husband was barbecuing. That's when she shared that the water wasn't being treated correctly and it was missing this essential component called deterioration control, which I had never heard of prior to then. Which without this active ingredient there would be lead in the water. What I knew at that moment is that my life would never be the very same. When I heard the word “lead,”there was no going back, there was just moving forward. As a pediatrician, as somebody in public health, we know what lead does. It's a potent permanent neurotoxin. There's no safe level. We respect the science of what lead does. And when I heard that word in my home, in my kitchen, with my high school sweetheart, I understood what I needed to do.
Tell me about your moms and dads, your childhood, your background. I wasn't supposed to be in this country. It wasn't part of my moms and dads'master plan. And I think like the majority of immigrants that's never ever part of anybody's strategy. We're Iraqi; my father was finishing his studies in the United Kingdom. My sibling who's simply a year older than me was born in Baghdad, and it was the intent that we would go back house. And it was throughout that time in the late 1970s that the regime of Saddam Hussein began to end up being more effective. My moms and dads saw and feared the rise of fascism in Iraq. They recognized that it most likely would not be a great idea to return home, specifically with 2 young kids.
Despite the fact that we as a family had the ability to concern the States, my parents never protected us from what was taking place back home. From the atrocities, sort of the rise in oppression and the dictatorship. And it felt that no matter where I was or wherever we were, that we had a role to play, to particularly expose injustices.
home in Michigan. Hannah Gaber with Elliott Attisha/USA TODAY An auto accident sparked your interest in medication. Can you speak about that?(During a winter season vacation journey) I had to do with 5 years old; we hit a patch of black ice. The cars and truck swerved, it went back and forth and back and forth throughout the guardrails. This was before the time of safety belt. My sibling and I remained in the back seat and I was light as a plume. With every back and forth with the cars and truck, I was flung in each direction.
Then we landed into a ditch. I have no idea how assistance came, but assistance came, and I was in a health center with a damaged neck and a fractured jaw. So I'm fortunate to be here. And it was when I was hospitalized that I remember being looked after by an incredible doctor, a lady who likewise had kind of brown hair and brown eyes and darker skin like me, who was reassuring to me, my household, my mama had extremely restricted English, and who told me that I was going to be OK.
That truly type of stimulated my interest in medicine and service. And little did I know that 30 years later I would be the one with a white coat on, telling another community that they were likewise involved in a mishap that wasn't their fault. However it was going to be my task to make certain that they were going to end up OK.
How did you remain strong throughout Flint crisis? What kept you going? My kids, my Flint kids. When I'm not house, (my kids )will inform you that Mom's not home, she's with our 6,000 siblings. My Flint kids are no different than my kids. And that's what premises me to this day. It is their pledge, their capacity.
The quote has been copied Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha My Flint kids are no different than my kids. Which's what premises me to this day. It is their promise, their capacity. Quote icon The story of Flint, it's not an
isolated story. There are kids who mature in conditions where their life trajectory is modified by their environment. Be it contamination with a contaminant or be it frustrating hardship, or be it lack of food or collapsing schools or the continuous impacts of bigotry and partition or risky real estate. The list continues for too many of our kids that limit their pledge. So much of my work in Flint is really asking kids to rise up and to succeed in spite of all of these overwhelming concerns on their shoulders. We're thinking of it the incorrect way. We praise and we commemorate those kids who in spite of frustrating obstacles were able to be successful and go to college and make something of themselves. And we should not be commemorating these exceptions, we should be producing those environments, the systems, where all children can prosper.
Nicole Carroll is editor-in-chief of USA TODAY. This interview has actually been edited for length and clearness.
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