As part of the 2017 celebration of National Public Health Week, the VCU Division of Epidemiology organized several public health events, including speeches, panels, and mindfulness activities throughout the week. Speakers and panelists highlighted emerging trends in public health, such as big data analytics and the building momentum of place-based initiatives, imploring colleagues and students alike to reach across sectors and create collaborative approaches to improve health and wellbeing.
Speeches from the Virginia Commissioner of Health Marissa Levine, MD, MPH, and University of South Florida Professor Marilyn Stern, PhD, looked to structural changes and interventions to improve the way we prevent poor health outcomes and better deliver care. Dr. Levine encouraged audience members to question the status quo and to consider redesigning the human systems of health by considering the importance of personal relationships.
Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity Brian Smedley, PhD, also spoke to the challenges of changing our system. In his talk, “Place, Race, and Chronic Disease: Addressing the Roots of Health Inequities to Support the Healthiest Generation,” Dr. Smedley demonstrated how institutional and structural racism continue to affect people of color today. He pointed to place-based and people-based policy changes such as early childhood education initiatives and housing opportunities that could begin to close the equity gap.
The Center on Society and Health got involved in National Public Health week as well. Director Steven Woolf, MD, MPH, and Associate Director Derek Chapman, PhD, both participated in the Division of Epidemiology events. Dr. Chapman sat on a panel at the beginning of the week that explored emerging careers for future public health professionals. Dr. Woolf peeked into the future as well, focusing his Thursday afternoon talk on how of innovative technologies like big data analytics and mapping tools may be used in the near future to improve population health.
Thank you to the Division of Epidemiology for organizing this National Public Health Week at VCU and to all the speakers and panelists. To learn more about National Public Health Week and how to join the Healthiest Nation 2030 movement, visit their website here: http://www.nphw.org/.