395: Invisible Disabilities, Is PH Ready or Not?

On Day Six of National Public Health Week, Dr. Alexis Travis, former Senior Deputy Director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, says accessibility accommodations must continually evolve to be effective; Dr. J. Nadine Gracia,...

On Day Six of National Public Health Week, Dr. Alexis Travis, former Senior Deputy Director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, says accessibility accommodations must continually evolve to be effective; Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, President and CEO of the Trust for America’s Health, discusses the results of the organization's 2023 Ready or Not report; registration to attend ASTHO’s Health Equity Summit online is still open; and it’s STI Awareness Week.

NPHW Daily Theme: Accessibility

Ready or Not 2023: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism

Health Equity Summit: A Movement for Justice

About STI Awareness Week


ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Monday, April 10, 2023. I'm Robert Johnson.

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



Accessibility can include language access, geographic access, access and accommodations for people living with disabilities.


On day six of National Public Health Week, former Michigan state health official Dr. Alexis Travis reminds us that accessibility involves more than physical and architectural considerations.


Since many disabilities are invisible, remaining receptive to requests for accommodation and readiness to make subtle adjustments is important to ensure our programs and spaces are welcoming. We need to be open and thoughtful as new requests and dynamics develop, and just keep, like, that position of learning.


Travis now leads Michigan State University's health and wellbeing division. She says it's important to constantly evaluate ways to make information and life more accessible.


This all increases the value and approachability of the efforts that we have. The more subtle choices, like scheduling events in accessible places, ensuring suitable transportation exists to get people to locations that we opt to use, and considering online options are the ways that we can denote awareness and welcome, or it can represent barriers that can restrict the approachability or reach of our efforts.


Travis says the best solutions are rooted in diversity and inclusion.


We're more likely to develop the right solutions by working closely with impacted communities and making sure that our public health workforce truly represents the diversity of the people that we serve.


The American Public Health Association has identified seven themes to examine during the celebration. We began our coverage of those topics last Monday. We wrap up tomorrow. You can read more about National Public Health Week using the link in the show notes.


The Trust for America's Health has released its 2023 Ready or Not report. President and CEO Dr. J. Nadine Gracia says agencies did well in some areas of emergency preparedness.


Most states, for example, have made preparations and plans put in place to expand their healthcare capacity during times of emergency, as well as having plans to be able to expand their laboratory testing capacity during emergencies. We also saw that many states have accreditation in public health or emergency management, and many in both areas.


The report also notes areas needing improvement. Those include boosting flu vaccination rates and hospital quality ratings. Among recommendations, Gracia says public health investment is a top priority.


The public health system has been chronically underfunded. And so, one of our leading recommendations is that Congress and lawmakers should really be providing the funding, increased funding and sustained funding, to support the public health infrastructure and workforce.

Secondly, we know that really modernizing our data systems is critical when we talk about being able to have early detection as well as response to public health emergency; so also providing the investment and continue to invest in data modernization.


Gracia notes public health also needs support from policymakers and communities to be effective in times of crisis.


What also needs to be done is assuring public health authorities and protections so that the public health fields can continue to protect and promote the public's health.


You can read the 2023 Ready or Not report using the link in the show notes.


Also today, ASTHO's Health Equity Summit is a little more than two weeks away. The in-person event is sold out, but you can still attend online. The topic this year: A Movement for Justice. Hold time on your schedule April 25–26 and sign up using the link in the show notes.


Finally this morning, this is STI Awareness Week. We'll talk with former Mississippi state health official Dr. Thomas Dobbs about STIs later in the week. Also, the CDC has a toolkit and other resources available online. You can visit that webpage right now using the link in the show notes.


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.

J. Nadine Gracia MD MSCE

President and CEO, Trust for America’s Health

Alexis Travis PhD

Senior Deputy Director at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services