56: APHA Conference Takeaways

Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, discusses the key takeaways from this week’s APHA annual conference; Dr. Mishka Terplan, a nationally recognized expert in the care of pregnant and parenting people...


Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, discusses the key takeaways from this week’s APHA annual conference; Dr. Mishka Terplan, a nationally recognized expert in the care of pregnant and parenting people with substance use disorders, tells ASTHO members the best way to help those in crisis; ASTHO offers two resources about first responders and their work helping people with substance use disorders; and ASTHO receives the Public Policy Award from the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention today.

APHA website: APHA 2021 Annual Meeting and Expo

ASTHO Blog Article: A New Approach to Breaking the Cycle – Creating a Shift in Emergency Medical Services to Address Substance Use Disorder

ASTHO Report: Innovations in Overdose Response

National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention website: Annual Meeting

ASTHO logo

Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Thursday, October 28th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

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

 

The annual gathering of the American Public Health Association is over, but its executive director hopes key takeaways from meetings this week will resonate for public health workers well into the future.

Dr. Georges Benjamin examines the conference theme, working with elected officials, and notes from the APHA Conference in 1918. It's today's morning conversation.

The theme of the conference was social connectedness.

What does that mean, and why is it important in public health?

  1. GEORGES BENJAMIN:

Yes, you know, we had over 10,000 people here; and it's a priority because, you know, we've had a really, really tough two years, and it was important that people came together to talk about the best science, share the best practices.

You know, we've had people come after our public health authorities; and so, many people have felt battered and bruised, and we felt it was important for people to renew and refresh. And this gave people an opportunity to do that.

JOHNSON:

For everyone—whether they could attend the conference or had to stay home—what do you think will be the top two or three takeaways for people doing this work?

BENJAMIN:

There was a lot of great information shared. We learned a lot about workforce, and the importance of building a public health workforce, and how to do so.

Secondly, we talked a great deal about how to engage public officials in productive ways around our public health authorities.

And the third thing we did, I think around this whole issue of social connectedness, is trying to understand better how important it is for people to be around one another, to be mindful of one another.

Had a very generational discussion with the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murphy, around mindfulness and health and wellbeing. We had an opening session speaker, Heather McGhee, that talked about how our desperate society can come together because, until we're together and see ourselves as one, we cannot really be healthy, and we cannot be connected.

JOHNSON:

How are you hoping the information from this conference will help people as they do their work over the next year?

BENJAMIN:

Well, you know, it's interesting. One of the things we get to do at APHA—because we're old—is I went back and actually looked at what the field did in 1918. Read the journal articles, read the debate at the governing council of the American Public Health Association, and what happened at that meeting was some base setting around best practices, around the best science, and I think we're going to see that here.

I think the other thing we now know, as we move forward, we know that we still have work to do to get everyone vaccinated; but more importantly, we've got to come together to, once and for all, build the public health system that the public deserves to have so that anytime a new disease enters the community, we rapidly identify it, we have the resources and focus and political support to address it, and then, you know, continue to do the things we do in a manner that public, again, trusts us and respects us.

 

JOHNSON:

Today is National First Responders Day, an opportunity to recognize the people who step into harm's way to bring aid and comfort to those suffering from illness or disaster.

ASTHO is thinking about ways to help these heroes address substance use disorders among the people they're called to help. A blog article explores a new approach to emergency medical response, an ASTHOReport shares the findings of a survey of EMS providers; both resources offer ideas for departments and their frontline personnel. You can find links in the show notes.

Dr. Mishka Terplan is a nationally recognized expert on this topic. He specializes in the care of pregnant and parenting people with substance use disorders. Terplan says the best way to help those in crisis is to make sure they're heard when decisions are made.

  1. MISHKA TERPLAN:

I think bringing in the voices of people who are affected by policy who have the greatest burden of particular, you know, public health concerns, bring them to the table, support them, and listen to them. And I think that that will go far farther than that, you know, a talking head, you know, ivory tower-ish expert like me; because it's really the narratives of lived experience that I think are probably the most powerful in overcoming discrimination.

 

JOHNSON:

Finally this morning, ASTHO gets the Public Policy Award from the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention later today. The recognition cites ASTHO's policy leadership and advocacy to improve public health and prevention in the U.S.

 

Visit the show notes to find links to all the stories mentioned in today's newscast.

 

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Join us tomorrow morning for more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition.