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Press Releases - 7/6/07

Contact Becky Wexler
(301) 652-1558


Columbus, OH (July 6, 2007)

As local health departments conduct environmental monitoring and surveillance, maintain public health infrastructure and capacity, prepare communities for public health emergencies and promote equal access to health services, they are doing much of the heavy lifting to keep our communities safe and healthy. Yet troubling inequities in health—ones that cannot be attributed simply to personal conduct or unequal access to health services—persist. At the same time, the United States falls well behind most other developed nations in leading health indicators.

At its 2007 Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio this week, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) will examine strategies, share ideas, and plan actions designed to address issues of health inequity and environmental public health from local to global perspectives. The thought-provoking and action-oriented theme of this year''s meeting is, "Health Equity and Environmental Public Health—From Local to Global."

"Today in America, factors such as income and racial discrimination have nearly as much effect on life expectancy as whether you smoke cigarettes. Which neighborhood you live in affects not only how many years you are likely to live, but how healthy those years will be," says Dr. Poki Stewart Namkung, NACCHO''s president and Health Officer for Santa Cruz County, California. "As local health departments tackle the troubling inequities that plague this country, they will need to pay attention to the root causes of those inequities."

Patrick Libbey, NACCHO''s Executive Director, echoed: "This meeting demonstrates our understanding that simply treating illness will never totally solve the problem of health inequities because factors such as economic development, agricultural production, energy use, the design of cities, global warming, water systems and ecosystems are primary drivers of population health."

At NACCHO''s 2007 Annual Meeting, leading public health voices and visionary leaders, including Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; John Auerbach, commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Public Health; Dr. Camara Jones, Research Director, Social Determinants of Health, CDC; and Dr. David Williams, Norman professor of Public Health, Harvard University, will examine evidence-based strategies for tackling the root causes of health inequities; assess challenges, successes and lessons learned regarding preparedness planning and health equity issues; illustrate how data gathered through environmental monitoring and surveillance can help protect and improve community health outcomes; evaluate the effectiveness of today''s public health workforce in addressing infrastructure and capacity issues, including health equity and environmental public health services; and describe proven and cutting-edge local health department programs, methods, and policies that advance health equity, environmental public health and other areas of public health practice.

Health Equity and Environmental Public Health—From Local to Global will feature events, performances, and discussions, all designed to explore the root causes of health inequities and define public health''s role in solving this serious problem.

Wednesday, July 11

Performance of "A Right to Care" by Sarah Jones—2:00–3:30 P.M.

Tony Award-winning playwright and actress Sarah Jones will perform her one-woman show, A Right to Care. This thought-provoking piece, commissioned by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, highlights ethnic and racial health disparities by illuminating issues ranging from chronic disease to cultural barriers to care; from immigrant health concerns to the impact of economic obstacles on the health of Americans of every background. Jones transforms into characters who reflect the seldom heard experiences of Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, African Americans and European Americans, each with a uniquely authentic voice and perspective.

Sneak Preview Screening of National PBS Documentary and First of its Kind Town Hall Meeting on Health Equity—4:00–6:00 P.M.

This special sneak peek of episode one of the forthcoming PBS series, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?, a four-part television series to be broadcast PBS that demonstrates how inequities in the rest of our lives—in our jobs, education, neighborhoods, housing, income and political power—can actually get under our skin and affect our health as surely as germs and viruses. As part of a national public impact campaign aimed at reframing the public debate over health, NACCHO is providing toolkits and support to local public health departments convening "Town Hall Meetings" built around the series.

Friday July 13

Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will discuss the New Age of Public Health—10:00– 10:30 A.M.

Dr. Gerberding''s comments will focus on 21st century extremisms: climate, poverty, disasters (natural and human-made); public health in a flat world: the network of community, city, state, national, and international public health practice; and moving public health forward through shared vision, connectivity, and communication.

NACCHO is the national organization representing the nation''s nearly 3,000 local health departments. These agencies work every day on the front lines to protect and promote the health of their communities. NACCHO develops resources and programs and promotes national policies that support effective local public health practice.



Becky Wexler
(301) 652-1558