WASHINGTON, Aug. 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- On July 19–21, more than 1,300 attendees convened in Phoenix for the 2016 NACCHO Annual Conference, making it the largest gathering of local health department (LHD) leaders and other public health professionals in the United States. The meeting provided participants with an opportunity to hear from national thought leaders, learn about successful and replicable public health practices from their peers, and discuss the pressing challenges affecting LHDs today.
This year's conference theme, Cultivating a Culture of Health Equity, provided a venue for in-depth conversations about the social determinants of health equity to achieve health and well-being for all members of their communities. A diverse mix of speakers addressed the theme during four general sessions and more than 100 sharing sessions, providing attendees with a range of perspectives on and approaches for tackling health inequities at the local level. Four plenary sessions were offered.
To mark the start of the conference, attendees were welcomed to Phoenix by Bob England, MD, Director of the Maricopa County (AZ) Department of Public Health. England introduced Arizona democratic state senator Steve Gallardo of the 13th district. Describing instances of health inequity in his district, Gallardo said he knew of legal residents among his constituency too afraid to seek care when they are sick, because of their concerns about their family's mixed immigration status. "Healthcare is a basic right, not a political cause," declared Gallardo.
During Wednesday's general session Tony Iton, MD, JD, MPH, Senior Vice President of Health Communities, The California Endowment, described the organization's $1 billion, 10-year mission to improve the health of 14 communities by examining the social determinants of health. Iton said that unfortunately, there is a narrative of exclusion in America and an effort to dehumanize certain populations. Dehumanization shapes policy, according to Iton. "Who belongs and who doesn't belong has an effect on policy." To change policy, he said, there has to be a change "in the power of poor people."
During the conference awards ceremony, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, Executive Director of NACCHO presented the Local Health Department of the Year Award to the Kansas City (MO) Health Department (medium jurisdiction category) and Harris County (TX) Public Health (large jurisdiction category). Patrick Libbey, Co-Director of the Center for Sharing Public Health Services in Olympia, WA, received the Maurice "Mo" Mullet Lifetime of Service Award.
For more from the conference, visit www.nacchoannual.org. Save the date for NACCHO Annual 2017, July 11–13 in Pittsburgh.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation's 2,800 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. For more information about NACCHO, please visit www.naccho.org.
Theresa Spinner, MA
Director, Media and Public Relations
SOURCE National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)