By Stephanye R. Clarke
Last Thursday New Haven Healthy Start, the City of New Haven and Community Foundation of Greater New Haven hosted a Health Equity Summit, aptly titled: “Why Health Equity Matters – Eliminating Health Disparities.”
Featured speakers were:
- David Satcher who served as the U.S. Surgeon General from 1998-2002 and founded the Satcher Health Leadership Institute;
- Camara Jones, American Public Health Association President-elect; and
- Pat Baker, President & CEO of Connecticut Health Foundation.
Highlights from Dr. Satcher’s presentation include:
- Health (wellness) must continue to be part of the conversation;
- Policies must be written that support plans/goals to eliminate health disparities;
- Agencies & organizations focused on improving health outcomes must build relationships based on trust with the people/communities
- Of note, Dr. Satcher discussed the Tuskegee experiments, the legacy of mistrust that endures and President Clinton’s apology.
- Creating health leaders (covering a variety of sectors) through the Satcher Health Leadership Institute
Highlights from Dr. Jones’s presentation include:
- Outlining three dimensions of health interventions:
- Improving Health Services (prevention, treatment, health care delivery, community health programs, etc.)
- Social Determinants of Health (access to healthy food, employment, education, quality health care, environmental hazards, etc.) and
- Social Determinants of Equity (classism, genderism, racism [institutional, personally-mediated and internalized], etc.)
- Her classic allegory The Gardner’s Tale and three new allegories;
- Commitment to having the American Public Health Association and other organizations who want to join do their work through an anti-racist lens
Highlights from Pat Baker’s presentation include:
- Hearing this history, past and present of how philanthropy works to improve health outcomes and promote health equity.
What stood out most for me from Ms. Baker’s presentation was her statement that if there is to be an impact, those most affected by health inequities must be at decision-making tables. This is powerful to me because typically the “usual suspects,” at these tables craft policies without considering the unintended consequences that can and do create unhealthy communities and people.
I won’t lie to you—I happily missed a math class for this event! Here’s why (be sure to check out my Instagram caption under the photo):
“… standing next to Public/Community Health ROYALTY!! My brother/friend/Mentor Rev. Kenn Harris (@NHHealthyStart Project Director), Dr. Camara Jones (my #publichealth fairy godmother) and me today right after her absolutely EPIC address!!! These two have literally helped shape who I am as a #publichealthgeek J J Love them ♥♥. Some might say I stalk Dr. Jones—I simploy consider myself an uber fan—two “usies” in one calendar year do NOT a stalker make! #dontjudgeme #HealthEquityNHV Great day!!”
When I first began this recap, I was nearly discouraged by the daunting tasks of eliminating health disparities and achieving health equity. That is—until I remembered a slide from Dr. Satcher’s presentation that read: “In order to eliminate disparities in health and achieve health equity, we need leaders who first care enough, leaders who know enough, leaders who have the courage to do enough and leaders who will persevere until the job is done.”
I’m in for the long haul.