149: Health Equity - Public Health Week

Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, says health equity impacts every public health consideration; the 2022 Preparedness Summit begins in Atlanta; data collection for the 2022 ASTHO Profile of State and...


Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, says health equity impacts every public health consideration; the 2022 Preparedness Summit begins in Atlanta; data collection for the 2022 ASTHO Profile of State and Territorial Public Health gets underway Monday, April 11th; and Dr. Brian Castrucci, CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, says the polling that indicates people support public health often doesn’t provide an accurate reading of community attitudes.

APHA Webpage: National Public Health Week

ASTHO Blog Article: State Policy Can Reduce Systemic Racism in Public Health

ASTHO Report: Achieving Optimal Health for All by Eliminating Structural Racism

2022 Preparedness Summit

ASTHO News Release: National Survey – Public Health Professionals Pushed to Limit

de Beaumont Foundation webpage: PH WINS 2021 Findings

ASTHO logo

Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Monday April 4, 2022. I’m Robert Johnson.

Now, today’s news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

National Public Health Week starts today. It’s an opportunity to examine key issues and the future of public health work. Dr. Georges Benjamin is executive director of the American Public Health Association. In today’s morning conversation, he talks about the week and how health equity impacts every public health consideration.

We’re about ready to recognize Public Health Week—today is the first day of a seven-day celebration. Why do we have Public Health Week? Why do we recognize public health?

DR. GEORGES BENJAMIN:

Well, public health saves our lives every day. It protects us every day. And, quite frankly, the public doesn’t know that they’ve been protected, don’t even know we’re here—when we do our best work, nothing happens.

And so, we really want to have a week at least once a year to raise visibility, to let people know we’re here, and to share accomplishments that the public health community has done in terms of protecting the public. And I think it’s also an opportunity for us to celebrate the heroes who do this work each and every day.

JOHNSON:

Certainly, the last two years of the pandemic have put public health front and center—it’s the top story almost every day. What are the goals of the week’s events given the profile that public health has now?

BENJAMIN:

What we’re trying is to put the public back into public health. So, the theme is of course that public health is where you are, and every day we’re going to celebrate something a little different. We’re going to talk about access to care, we’re going to talk about health equity, we’re going to talk about environmental health. Obviously, we’re going to talk about infectious diseases throughout the week.

What we’re trying to do is set a national platform, and then let every community, every entity, celebrate what’s most important to them as part of this process. And, in fact, we also do this during the same time as when the World Health Organization is celebrating World Health Day, and the Pan-American Health Organization—which is their regional office—is also celebrating that as well.

JOHNSON:

You mentioned healthy equity as one of the issues that you will be tackling this week. How does that impact the agenda?

BENJAMIN:

We try to build health equity into everything that we do. We try to make sure that people understand that, if you want to improve the health of everyone, then you need to improve the health of the least of us. And if you can do that, then everybody benefits.

It really is about raising all boats by focusing on people who are least able to improve their health by making the healthy choice the easy choice, and building systems to improve people’s health.

JOHNSON:

The celebration, the events, they go through Sunday—this is a seven-day affair. When it’s all said and done Sunday night, what do you hope will have been accomplished?

BENJAMIN:

We hope that we will have raised awareness that public health is something that everybody can participate in, and that we want people to see that there is something for everyone in this. In other words, when you get up in the morning you’re grateful that public health was here and that you’re willing to help yourself, your family members, and your neighbors achieve the highest quality of health they can possibly be.

JOHNSON:

Tomorrow on the daily, Dr. Laura Parajon from New Mexico stops by to discuss the future of the public health workforce as we examine all of the issues covered in this year’s National Public Health Week.

 

Also starting today: the 2022 Preparedness Summit. Public health officials are gathering in Atlanta to address emergency preparedness and best practices. You can learn more about the summit and the agenda for the conference using the link in the show notes.

 

Data collection for the 2022 ASTHO Profile of State and Territorial Public Health gets underway next week on Monday April 11. The survey is the only comprehensive source of data on agency activities, governance, and resources. Information collected helps ASTHO better advocate for sustainable public health funding on Capitol Hill.

 

Finally today, Dr. Brian Castrucci says public health needs to continue its efforts to educate as many people as possible about the importance of the work being done to keep communities healthy.

Castrucci is CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation. He argues the polling that indicates people’s support of public health often doesn’t provide an accurate reading of community attitudes.

DR. BRIAN CASTRUCCI:

When you ask somebody questions like, “Do you support public health,” or, “Is public health important,” people tend to just answer “yes.” It doesn’t mean that they actually know what they’re answering “yes” to. And I think that’s the question: do you even understand what public health is?

Because we need Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, all agreeing public health is the foundation of our society, and therefore we must invest in it across parties, across all budgets. We can’t continue to go through pandemics where some states take it seriously and some states don’t.

Pandemic preparedness is not a choose-your-own-adventure book; because if it’s treated that way then, at the end of the day, we all lose.

 

JOHNSON:

On Friday, we told you about the new PH WINS survey. It found that public health workers are suffering from alarming stress because of the pandemic. You can read more about the survey produced by ASTHO and the de Beaumont Foundation using the link in the show notes.

Before we go, we want to remind you to leave us a rating and a review—they help raise our profile and makes it easier for new listeners to find us online. Also, if you follow the show you’ll never miss a single report. You can do all of this on the channel you’re listening to right now.

 

That’ll do it for today’s newscast. We’re back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I’m Robert Johnson. You’re listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Brian Castrucci DrPh MA

President and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation