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November 2016
National Native American Indian Heritage Month

American Indians and Alaska Natives are the earliest inhabitants of this land - and have long experienced lower health status when compared with other Americans. Today, American Indians and Alaska Natives have an overall life expectancy at birth that is 4.4 years less than that of the nation as a whole. Health disparities for this population are deeply rooted in the social determinants of health, including disparate poverty and education levels, as well as discrimination in the delivery of health care services.  Compared to the nation overall, this population dies at higher rates in many categories, including cirrhosis, diabetes, kidney disease, unintentional injuries, homicides and suicide.  Learn more here about health disparities facing American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The Indian Health Service (IHS)

The Indian Health Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for the 567 federally-recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. The IHS Headquarters is located in Rockville, MD.  Mary L. Smith , a tribal member of the Cherokee Nation, is the Principal Deputy Director of the Indian Health Services. She manages 15,000 employees and a $4.8 billion program designed to provide culturally competent preventative, curative, and community health care to approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.  Learn more here about the Indian Health Service.

Income Security and Health 

P hiladelphia is not only the City of Brotherly Love, but it is also the home of District 1199C of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Workers. On October 27, 2016, HPRC held a Fall Policy Forum at District 1199C's Breslin Learning Center, which provides access to career pathways in healthcare and human services, supporting over 4,000 students annually. Hosted by the HPRC team, the forum addressed two major health equity issues: (1) the evidence-based relationship between income insecurity and health disparities, and (2) the ongoing policy challenge of improving access to health care services for low income populations. More than one hundred people joined the downtown policy.

The policy discussions were informed by four panelists: L. Toni Lewis, MD, Immediate Past Chair, Justice Change Agent, SEIU Healthcare; Walter Tsou, MD, MPH, Internist, Past President, American Public Health Association and former Philadelphia Health Commissioner; Henry Nicholas, President, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees; and Carol Rogers, Director, Healthy Philadelphia.
Policy Talk on Water in West Virginia 

On November 11, 2016, the HPRC team hosted a policy forum on water quality and the health of vulnerable communities in West Virginia. Convened at the Robert C. Byrd Health Science Center at West Virginia University (WVU), topics explored included the health effects of water in the Appalachian state; the biological basis for improving local water quality; the importance of improving information flow between regulators, utilities and consumers; and water quality management.

The policy discussions were informed by four panelists: Adam Bus, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, WVU; Jennifer Gallagher, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology, WVU; Terry Pollen, PhD, Ombudsman, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection; and Michael McCawley, PhD, Interim Chair, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences, WVU.

HPRC Presents Scientific Posters At Meharry Medical College
HPRC is committed to disseminating scientific knowledge that informs health policy. On November 10-11, 2016, John Sankofa, HPRC's Senior Health Writer, presented two scientific posters at the NIMHD-funded Meharry Translational Research Center (MeTRC) Conference at Meharry Medical College, an HBCU institution founded in 1876 and now serving 700 medical students. John received a full travel award from MeTRC Conference organizers. 

The MeTRC  conference theme was "Addressing Health Disparities: The Role of Translational Research". Speakers included James E. K. Hildreth, PhD, MD, President of Meharry Medical College; Rina Das, PhD, Program Officer, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD); and Lucile L. Adams-Campbell, PhD, Associate Director, Minority Health & Health Disparities Research, Georgetown University Medical Center.

HPRC Staffer Appointed to Regional Health Equity Council
HPRC continues to play an active role in engaging stakeholders across the mid-Atlantic region, to inform polices that promote health equity . In October, John Sankofa, Senior Health Writer, was appointed to a 3-year term on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Health Equity Council (RHEC). Established by the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the regional health equity councils (RHECs) are independent non-governmental organizations that play a key role in driving HHS's National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities . Council members are tasked to identify regional health equity issues, help guide regional policy, and leverage cross-sectoral partnerships to advance regional and national health equity efforts, including ACA implementation, CLAS standards for cultural competency, and strengthening the crucial role of HBCUs in increasing health care workforce diversity. Working in the health equity field for nearly 20 years, John has been appointed to serve RHEC's Region III, which comprises Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Poll Shows Key Gaps in Child Health Concerns Among Adults

Approximately 20,000 people in Lynchburg, Virginia get their primary care not at the doctor's office but in the emergency department at Lynchburg General. Those are local residents without insurance (or who have inadequate coverage). This autumn, policymakers and health advocates broke ground on Lynchburg's new 5 th Street Community Health Center that will double the number of people who gain regular access to needed medical care. 

Learn more here

Baltimore Releases New Health Equity Strategy for 2020

Eight months in the making, Baltimore Health Commissioner Leana Wen, MD, has released the city's new health equity plan: "Healthy Baltimore 2020: A Blueprint for Health." The ambitious plan aims to "cut disparities in half in the next ten years." 

Developed by the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) in partnership with community stakeholders, the plan uses the latest health equity frameworks, including health-in-all-policies/upstream causation, the social determinants of health, the life course approach, community engagement, and social justice. Targeted disparities include CVD, obesity, smoking, violence, lead poisoning, and overdoses. The 30-page plan is available in pdf.    

Commissioner Wen continues to forcefully address racism and the social determinants of health. She has written: "We cannot expect to markedly improve health and well-being in our city without simultaneously fighting the social inequities that our communities continue to experience. It has been said that it is the role of public health to diagnose the problem-to call it as it is. Well, count us in... First we must acknowledge that racism, poverty, and historical exclusion are unequivocally public health issues, and therefore require public health solutions."  

Click here to read Commissioner Wen's full article in The Afro.
Events Calendar

WHEN December 13, 2016, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
WHERE:  Martin's West, 6817 Dogwood Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21244
Click here for additional information. 
WHEN January 20, 2017, 9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
WHERE:  Nemours Children's Hospital Orlando, 13535 Nemours Parkway,Orlando, Florida 32827
Click here for additional information. 
WHEN January 24, 2017, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
WHERE:  Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Drive SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30301
Click here for additional information. 
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