The Spirit of Public Health

I recently read on a Linked In List Serve that the American Public Health Association’s Governing Council passed a resolution in support of Occupy Wall Street.  Whatever you happen to think about OWS specifically (its intentions, “message,” or tactics) the movement’s essential contention that there is an unfair growing, and growing, and growing  gap between the richest of the rich and everyone else is well supported by data.  (I’m stuck in the Phoenix airport right now and don’t have time to link to numerous studies and analyses, apologies).  At any rate, if President Obama is rallying Kansas by decrying growing disparities that means that somewhere out there a pollster has confirmed that that particular message resonates with more than just a handful of OWS protesters.

What does all this have to do with the EMPH program?  Well, recently, EMPH Alum (’92) Adewale Troutman, MD, MPH and former dean of South Florida’s College of Public Health was elected President of APHA.  Dr. Troutman trained as a family physician and has held positions in clinical emergency medicine and hospital administration.  In a Q&A (which you can read here) Dr. Troutman notes that his passion for public health is driven by his desire to address the issues of health equity and human rights – “making the world a more equitable place.”  The notion of public health as a great equalizer (i.e., clean water for all, access to care for all, eradication of diseases for all, addressing root causes of poor health for all) is inextricably linked to the promotion of social justice.

Dr. Troutman’s leadership and commitment to these ideals was evident in his interview.   He believes we have a “system-wide, unethical and unjust health care system” and hopes that new students will be more fired up about human rights and social justice.  In his new role, he plans to prioritize APHA’s advocacy efforts so that it can lead policy change more effectively.  Cultivating international partnerships with organizations such as WHO (with whom he has worked with in his own career) as well as other coalitions are also top on his list.

Dr. Troutman recalled his time at Mailman positively, noting that the Exec program enabled him to achieve his MPH in a way that no other program could.  And he left us with some words of advice:  “Stay focused, think big and think globally.  Think in terms of collaboration, community activism, advocacy, and never, ever give up.”

A couple of additional APHA things –

  • You might want to join the APHA Group on Linked In (or check it out)
  • Also, APHA (in partnership with United Health Foundation) recently released its annual “America’s Health Rankings“.  New Jersey is #11; New York is #18; Ohio is #36; California is #24 (up from #26-woohoo!); Pennsylvania is #26; Florida is #33; and . . . drumroll please:  Connecticut is #3.  There’s additional data in the report on obesity as well.

They are calling my flight; please forgive any typos or grammatical errors in this post.  (Is this a blog or a letter, who knows).  I look forward to seeing all you EMPHers tomorrow!



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