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February  2017
Black History Month Special Edition 
Each year during Black History Month, many health equity advocates take stock of what progress has been made - and how much farther we have to go - to achieve racial equity. As the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) looms in uncertainty, it is an important time to reflect on the important gains that ACA has brought to African American families. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has given African Americans greater control over their health care, including lower costs for African American families, greater choices for coverage, access to preventive care, and stronger focus on minority health and health disparities research.
Resources:
WHAT'S HAPPENING AT HPRC?
Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen and U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings discuss newly awarded five-year,$5 million SAMHSA grant to implement community-based trauma-informed care in West Baltimore.
In January, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen invited John Sankofa, HPRC Senior Health Writer, to join a citywide discussion group that will explore ways to implement a trauma-informed care approach (TIC) at the health department and at other city agencies and community service organizations. Guided by the science of HHS's National Center for Trauma Informed Care (NCTIC), the community workgroup will support Dr. Wen's flagship effort to integrate the social determinants of health into multisector, culturally-competent service delivery. The first workgroup meeting was held on Wed, Jan 11. 

HPRC's contributions to the citywide workgroup will focus mainly on informing health policy communication strategies and identifying ways to promote TIC literacy among diverse stakeholder audiences, including service providers and community organization leaders. "It's an honor to support the Health Commissioner's important health equity initiative," said John Sankofa."HPRC is excited about the opportunity to inform the work of trauma-informed care in service delivery across multiple sectors." Other workgroup collaborators include representatives from Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, Kennedy Krieger Institute, University of Maryland, Baltimore City Youth Commission, Casa de Maryland, Baltimore City Police Department, and Strong City Baltimore.

Learn more here about Baltimore's Trauma-Informed Care Approach to service delivery. 

HPRC Releases Radio Podcast Archive
Broadcast radio is an important vehicle for communicating vital information about health policy. Last year, HPRC p artne red with Make the Change Radio Show, hosted by Patricia Terrell, to get the word out about major heal th policy issues and available health resources. The partnership launched a monthly radio program focusing on timely topics, including ACA open enrollment, environmental health, breast cancer awareness, food safety and hunger, and vaccinations and immunizations. The Saturday afternoon program, which first aired on July 9, 2016, ran for six months and reached audiences in the DC Metro Area, as well as internet listeners from as far as Maine and California. During each of the six episodes, Patricia Terrell hosted Byron Sogie-Thomas, HPRC's Deputy Director of Policy Research and Analysis, and invited guests. Click  here to access the podcasts for all six episodes.
HEALTH POLICY & RESEARCH NEWS

Breakthroughs in Science in 2016
 
Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH), has again published his annual list of NIH-supported breakthroughs in science. Near the top of Dr. Collins' list for 2016 is the advance in DNA analysis and human migration. The new studies support the longstanding assertion that the earliest European descendants came from Africa. The evidence also suggests that the earliest humans dispersed out of Africa "in a single migratory event."  
 
Earlier genetic studies have shown miniscule racial differences in genetic composition between humans, leading many scientists to conclude that "race" has little or no biological meaning. It is, as most public health leaders assert, a "social construct." However, as Harvard epidemiologist Nancy Krieger has noted, health disparities may be biological expressions of entrenched patterns of racism and social inequity.
  • Click here for Dr. Collins' list of NIH-supported 2016 breakthroughs.
  • Learn more here about distinguishing between race as a biologic/genetic construct versus race as a social construct - and the implications of these two divergent viewpoints for understanding the root causes of health disparities.
Health Science Literacy is Vital to Health Policy Development

Health science literacy - understanding the scientific method and peer-reviewed literature - is an important aspect of developing evidence-driven policies designed to close the health gap. Guided by the principle that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts, HealthNewsReview.org promotes health science literacy by monitoring health stories and health studies, and identifying errors and fallacies. The watchdog website also provides helpful science-based tips for interpreting the peer-reviewed literature. Common misinterpretations of the literature (especially in health news reporting) include:
  1. Biohype (overstating, exaggerating, or prematurely reporting on science-in-progress)
  2. Not distinguishing between absolute vs. relative risk
  3. Not adequately defining the actual cost of a health intervention
  4. Inaccuracies over the statistical significance of a new finding (i.e., just because there were 100 new cases doesn't mean it was statistically significant)
  5. Assuming that an observed association between variables means a causal relationship (e.g., a simultaneous increase in mammography rates and lower breast cancer rates could be totally unrelated).
Click here   for more important tips for improving health science literacy.

SPOTLIGHT
 
UMD Students Design New Health Center in Prince George's County 
 
Policymakers and researchers are not the only people fighting for health equity. More than a dozen undergraduate students at the University of Maryland's School of Public Health have helped design the new Catholic Charities Susan D. Mona Center in Prince George's County. The hands-on design project was part of an innovative course called "Redesigning Health Care - Developing a Clinic to Meet Community Needs." The class is part of a visionary new course series called Fearless Ideas.  In this case, the "fearless idea" was for students to work with residents of Temple Hills, located in southern Prince George's County, to co-create a new health center. The ambitious effort was performed in collaboration with Catholic Charities, the School of Public Health's Maryland Center for Health Equity (MCHE), and Doctor's Community Hospital. According to Dr. Stephen B. Thomas, MCHE's director (far right in image above), the eager students were tasked with addressing health disparities by conceptualizing a health center that meets the expressed needs of Temple Hills residents. Using 'design thinking' and an active listening approach with open-ended questions, the students conducted interviews with Temple Hills residents, identifying problems related to health disparities, food access, pedestrian safety, and the local proliferation of liquor stores. 

Guided by the design created with direct community input, the Catholic Charities Susan D. Mona Center will be housed at the site of the former Joe Theismann's Restaurant. Prince George's County approved construction at the site in November 2016. The new health center will include a primary health clinic, a dental clinic, nutrition services, a legal network, and immigration services.  
Events Calendar

WHAT: 10th ANNIVERSARY HEALTH DISPARITIES CONFERENCE
WHEN March 16-18, 2017
WHERE: Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, 500 Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Click here for additional information.

WHAT:16th ANNUAL HEALTH LITERACY CONFERENCE
WHENMay 3-5, 2017
WHERE: Hotel Irvine, 17900 Jamboree Road,  Irvine, California 92614
Click here for additional information.

WHAT: 1 0th NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON HEALTH DISPARITIES
WHEN May 3-6, 2017
WHERE:  J W Marriot,  614 Canal Street,  New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Click  here for additional information.  

Please feel free to contact the HPRC Team at 301.375.2021 with any questions.

 
 
Thank you,


The Health Policy Research Consortium
 

HPRC, a CTIS Inc. division, is supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the National Institutes of Health under award number #1U54MD008608-01. This content does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Health Policy Research Consortium
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Phone: (301) 375-2021