Creating a Healthy Nation Through Community Partnerships
Each year the first week of April is recognized as National Public Health Week. The American Public Health Association (APHA) uses this time to “recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation.”
APHA hosted a number of events this week including a forum, Working Across Sectors to Create the Healthiest Nation at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, DC. By incorporating panelists from a variety of professional fields, it proved that everyone in a community has a hand in helping the nation become a healthier place. The main focus was how working across sectors can have a positive influence on the health of a community.
Nick Macchione, F.A.C.H.E, the Director and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for the Health and Human Services Agency in the County of San Diego, CA gave a keynote address focusing on the vision, strategy, and results of the Live Well movement that began in San Diego in 2010. It progressed from a plan to a full movement with 273 organizations as Live Well Partners increasing the ability to connect with residents. With over 50 percent of deaths in San Diego caused by chronic diseases, it was evident that they needed to improve the health of all county residents focusing on building better health, living safely, and thriving.
Macchione expressed that it might be popular to bring in national leaders, but not to overlook the importance of local leaders. He also explained when looking for additional resources to consider unique sectors within that community. These sectors could include government, businesses, schools, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, and more. His suggestions for working within the community is to engage with the residents, make strategies easy to understand, make data relatable, and to be flexible.
The panelists discussed the initiatives that they work with, advice for others, and suggestions for sectors to partner with.
Marylynn Ostrowski, Ph.D., the Executive Director of Aetna Foundation discussed the importance of building self-efficacy with communities so they believe in the possibility of change and can sustain it. Ostrowski said to get there you have to understand where their energy is, what issue they want to prioritize, and what resources are already available to begin to address that area. Macchoine added to make sure you are respectful, listen to the needs of the people and go in with good intentions. When considering the faith-based sector, the growth in a spiritual relationship can promote agency helping someone believe they can make a difference.
Programs mentioned during the forum maybe in a city near you:
This quote from Ostrowski sums up what the event and what National Public Health Week is all about, “Regardless of what your title is, regardless of what industry you work in, you work in public health. Every single one of us wears a public health hat. We all work in public health regardless of our titles, or our industry.”
Find an event near you here.
Watch a clip of the keynote address: