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Over 670 Americans have been sickened  as a result of consuming imported cucumbers within the last few weeks, according to the latest estimate (as of September 29, 2015) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have been 3 fatalities, 131 hospitalizations, and a recall of the offending product. In most cases, cooking food to optimal temperatures will kill bacteria, but washing food before consuming or cooking them is another 'safety first' approach. Click the link above to read more.
Health Policy Links
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October 6, 2015 
Community Engagement 
and the Health Equity Movement
What is health equity?  The Healthy People 2020 guidelines define health equity as access to ..."the highest level of health for all people." To fully understand health equity, we must understand inequities and health disparities. While disparities refer to differences in health, inequities are unjust, unfair and preventable differences in health, often attributed to social or economic circumstances.

Societies around the world maintain a keen focus on the perils of the indigent, widows, orphans and others that are at greater risk of disease and malady. The same is true for the health equity movement in the U.S., which historically has involved the struggle for equal rights among economic and resource deprived communities, racial and ethnic minorities, women, those with disabilities and the LGBT community. A close connection to the groups most affected by unfair policies or practices, or community engagement, has been central to achieving health equity in the U.S. 

Effective community engagement is vital to advancing health equity. How can researchers, healthcare professionals and government leaders aspire to aid a population of need without first connecting with the members of those communities? Though engagement and participation from communities of need is necessary to achieve parity, working with communities to solve social woes requires a unique set of skills, humility and a great deal of patience. 

Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) provides a model for including communities impacted by injustice in the design, implementation and evaluation of clinical and other research. In a 2014 article published in the American Journal of Public Health, Cacari-Stone and colleagues highlight the role of CBPR in health equity projects designed to inform policies and improve health outcomes. The authors extended the "...critical role of civic engagement by those communities that were most burdened by health inequities by focusing on their political participation...". This is one of the many examples of how CBPR can ignite sustained community change.

Today, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) along with hundreds of government agencies, non-profit organizations and civil rights advocates, are working hard to ensure health equity for all. Despite these efforts, the gap in health persists among people of color and low income populations. What would you do to ensure health equity for all? Visit us on Facebook and Twitter to share your thoughts.

Read the 2015 Kelly Report, pioneered by  Congresswoman Robin L. Kelly (IL), to learn more. The report  addresses the state of health equity and health disparities in America.
Regional Spotlight:  Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) was established by Congress in 2010. PCORI is an independent nonprofit, nongovernmental organization located in Washington, DC. The main objective of their work is to determine which health care options are available to patients and what works best in particular circumstances.  PCORI also "...helps people make informed healthcare decisions, and improves healthcare delivery and outcomes, by producing and promoting high-integrity, evidence-based information that comes from research guided by patients, caregivers, and the broader healthcare community."

PCORI maintains a strong emphasis on patient and stakeholder engagement. Clinical Effectiveness Research (CER) is the primary framework that PCORI utilizes to determine evidence-based interventions and practices that improve health outcomes. Also essential to PCORI's CER approach is Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) that provides a framework for addressing patients' concerns in clinical research.  PCORI was recently awarded funding to develop a project to understand the gaps in African-Americans' knowledge about CER and PCOR in mental health, and design a curriculum to address these gaps. The project, titled Engaging Black Faith Communities to Address Mental Health Disparities via Curriculum Development, is designed to increase the capacity of faith communities, youth, and stakeholders to lead, design, and conduct their own patient-centered outcomes research and comparative effectiveness research studies. 

Visit PCORI's website to learn more and view their current funding opportunities.
Town Highlight: The City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 

The City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's state capitol, is located in Dauphin County in central PA. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the approximate population of the City of Harrisburg is 49,673, making it the ninth largest city in Pennsylvania. The median household income for Harrisburg is $34, 216; compared to $52,548 in Pennsylvania state-wide.  According to this 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment , there are many socioeconomic barriers to healthcare access in Harrisburg. I n order to address such social issues as safety, education and blight in the local area,  Harrisburg has created innovative positions for city leaders, in addition to their mayor, and city council. Currently, a Community Policing Coordinator is tasked with facilitating a healthy relationships between local police and residents. To promote education, foster mentoring and increase participation in enriching after school activities, a special Assistant to Education, Youth and Civic Engagement was also appointed.  Click HERE to learn more about what the City of Harrisburg is doing to advance population health. 
Community Voices: ECO City Farms


ECO City Farms is a nonprofit multicultural, multigenerational urban teaching and learning farm, established in 2010. The ECO team produces nutrient-rich vegetables, herbs and fruit in places where good food is scarce. The ECO model serves as a reproducible prototype for urban agriculture. Increasing availability, affordability and access to nutritious food by distributing sustainably grown produce from the ECO farm and other small growers is one of ECO's main goals.  ECO City Farms is a much needed voice for justice and equity, food security and sustainable farming in Prince George's County and the surrounding region. Click HERE to learn more.

The newly proposed HHS rule, which is open for public comment through Nov 6, 2015, extends civil rights protection to all ACA and Health Insurance Marketplace activities.  Under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the new rule extends civil rights protection to women, people with limited English proficiency, and disabled persons.   These groups were already covered within existing federal statutes; however, the new HHS equity rule would explicitly extend these protections specifically to ACA marketplace programs and activities.  
Additionally, the new rule also requires that insurance plans not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. At the recent CMS conference commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and the 30th anniversary of the Heckler Report, data were presented showing stark discriminatory patterns with regard to how LGBT patients are flagrantly mistreated in the healthcare system, including higher levels of verbal mistreatment, physical mistreatment, and provider refusal to provide healthcare services.  By extending civil rights protections, including legal remedy for LGBT plaintiffs, the newly proposed HHS ruling will - for the first time ever - make it illegal for insurers to categorically refuse to provide coverage for care related to gender transitions.

NIMHD's new director, Dr. Eliseo Perez-Stable, was recently interviewed by Science Magazine. During the interview, Dr. Perez-Stable shared his passion for minority health and health-disparity research. When asked "What are the big questions in health disparities" Dr. Perez-Stable responded by saying " Race and ethnicity play a central role but so does socioeconomic status and social determinants... " Dr. Perez-Stable also spoke to the role of behaviors, genetics and environment in relation to health disparities. Click the link above to read the entire article. 
HPRC welcomes Dr. Perez-Stable to NIMHD!

Upcoming Events

WHEN: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (EDT) 
DESCRIPTION: Join the movement!  This webinar is designed to provide a common understanding about best practices to address health disparities as well as diverse perspectives about how participants can work within their institutions to catalyze action around health disparities. 

WHEN: Friday, October 16, 2015 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT
WHERE: National Institutes of Health, 9000 Rockville Pike, Building 45, Bethesda, MD 20892 or watch the live Webcast
DESCRIPTION:  This event provides an opportunity to examine the long-term productivity of education spending, with emphasis on the health returns of educational investments throughout the life course. The project aims to uncover the relationships between segregation, school spending, educational attainment, and students' short-and long-run health outcomes and identify the causal chain that links measures of school quality and adult health. Click HERE to register.

Events in Region III

WHEN: Saturday, October 24;  9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
WHERE: Holy Cross Hospital Professional Community Education Center, 1500 Forest Glen Road Silver Spring, MD 20910  
DESCRIPTION:  Join Holy Cross Health's Community and Minority Outreach Department for an educational breast health symposium, focusing on the importance of breast health education, up-to-date information on breast cancer research, breast screenings and diagnosis. Click HERE to register.

WHEN:  Saturday, October 24, 2015; 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
WHERE: 5801 Emerson Street, Bladensburg, MD 20784
DESCRIPTION: Join ECO City Farms for a day of farm tours, smoothie bikes, face painting, music, dancing and plenty of FREE, Healthy food, drinks and t-shirts. 

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. program, 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
6401 Golden Triangle Drive, Ste. 310
Greenbelt, MD 20770
Phone: (301) 375-2021