This is an excerpt from the new publication, Advancing Health Equity: Case Studies of Health Equity Practice in Four Award-Winning California Health Departments, that originally appeared on the Berkeley Media Studies Group's website.
Call any local health department in the United States and, chances are, you won't have much trouble finding information on the health problems its surrounding communities face. You might learn that a county's populations of color have higher rates of asthma than white community members, or that its low-income adults are more likely to experience a heart attack. Or you might discover that the region experiences excellent health overall but still struggles with wide differences in life expectancy from one neighborhood to the next.
That's because health departments are increasingly focused on understanding health inequities — unjust differences in health outcomes and longevity that can't be explained by genetics or individual behavior — and how to prevent them. Going beyond public health's traditional purview of infectious disease control and clinical services, many health departments are now exploring how social, economic, and political inequalities, all of which are rooted in power differences, are causing some groups to live sicker and die younger than others. These inequalities show up in indicators like education and income levels, rates of violence, and policies and practices that create advantages for some populations and disadvantages for others, based, for example, on race, gender, or sexuality.
Of the many factors that influence our health, some of the most difficult to address are the social determinants that are deeply ingrained in our society. In particular, racism and violence have a tremendous impact on health and wellbeing, and communities of color are disproportionately impacted. Fortunately, a lot of work is being done to make the connection between racism, violence, and public health. Earlier today, the American Public Health Association (APHA) hosted No Safety, No Health: A Conversation About Race, Place and Preventing Violence, the second webinar of their four-part series, The Impact of Racism on the Health and Well-Being of the Nation.
Today’s web forum included an engaging discussion featuring APHA Past President Linda Degutis, former director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Howard Pinderhughes of UC San Francisco, Marc Philpart of Policy Link, and Benita Tsao of Prevention Institute. The discussion touched on a wide range of topics including the health impacts of violence and racism, trauma-informed interventions, improving the built environment, shaping positive narratives, and how public health can play a pivotal role in engaging communities for violence prevention.
Here are some of the highlights:
Degutis focused on some of the health impacts of violence.
"More people in the US die as a result of violence than car accidents." -@Degutislc, Defense Health Horizons. #APHAwebinar
This week is the 20th anniversary of National Public Health Week (NPHW). Started by the American Public Health Association, the first full week of April each year is "a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation." The advent of social media, particularly Twitter, has added a new dimension to NPHW and has allowed people from across the country to engage in public health discussions. Here's some highlights from Twitter from this year's NPHW: