April 4-10, 2022, marks the 27th National Public Health Week (NPHW) organized by the American Public Health Association (APHA). During this observation, we recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation.
This year’s theme is “Public Health Is Where You Are.” The places where you are physically, mentally, and societally affect your health and life. Ensuring everyone has a chance at a long and healthy life means tackling the underlying causes of poor health and disease risk with an intersectional approach. We must focus on inclusion and equity to ensure decisions are made with everyone’s health in mind. From here, we can build healthier communities and, eventually, the healthiest nation.
Serving the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, IPHI has created partnerships across sectors and cultivates innovative solutions that improve health and well-being for all populations and communities throughout the region, particularly those most affected by health inequities.
We invite everyone – public health professionals, students, elected leaders, and the general public – to celebrate with us this NPHW! Learn more about NPHW and follow along as IPHI highlights two programs for each day’s theme.
Tuesday: Public Health Workforce
Thursday: World Health Day
Monday, April 4 – Racism: A Public Health Crisis
It’s not a debate. Racism IS a public health crisis. Declaring racism as a public health crisis is essential to advancing racial equity and justice, followed by allocating resources and strategic action. The historic and present-day impact of racism and other forms of oppression has created dramatic differences in health across populations and communities. The twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism have only made disparities more pronounced. Together, we can dismantle oppressive policies and systems that lead to racial disparities in health. Read the op-ed, “Virginia Must Declare Racism As A Public Health Crisis,” written by IPHI’s own Dr. Michael Royster and Voices’ Chloe Edwards. Learn more about two important programs that help IPHI recognize racism as a public health crisis:
- IPHI is one of the project partners for “Stronger Partnership, Stronger Community (Stronger2),” a Fairfax County Virginia Health Department-led initiative to improve health literacy among local African-American, Black, and Hispanic communities. For more information, visit.
- At IPHI, our Healthy and Equitable Communities Training provides resources and technical assistance to organizations/coalitions committed to addressing the dramatic health inequities found in communities throughout our region. For more information, visit.
Tuesday, April 5 – Public Health Workforce: Essential to our Future
The public health workforce is necessary to address our present and future health challenges. Public health programs need the support and involvement of the communities they serve, so building public trust and confidence is crucial to building healthy communities. Community Health Workers (CHWs) are trained community members with a trusting, and often unique relationship with the community served, and they’re an integral part of IPHI’s work. They act as links between community residences and the health care system. Expanding the community health workforce improves the public health workforce, making them essential to our future. Learn more about two important projects that IPHI helps to add capacity to our public health workforce:
- In seven months IPHI recruited, employed, and trained over 640 people as a part of the Fairfax County COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Response. As the pandemic response shifted to include an emphasis on COVID-19 vaccine access, IPHI has additionally trained approximately 1,000 pandemic responders and others within the County on vaccine outreach and education. For more information, visit.
- Through the DCPG vaccinate program, a one-year grant sponsored by Health Resources & Service Administration (HRSA), IPHI is able increase COVID-19 vaccinations in high-need areas of the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County, Maryland. For more information, visit.
Wednesday, April 6 – Community: Collaboration and Resilience
Community encompasses every aspect of our lives, including our health. The pandemic has encouraged communities to stand together, even if socially distanced, to navigate the hardships of these unprecedented times. There must be an emphasis on community-led, collaborative solutions that contribute to systemic change, build resilience, and shift power in communities. Through our collaborative work with programs and partnerships, we’re expanding healthy equity to one community at a time for a healthier region. Learn more about two important programs that emphasize IPHI’s commitment to community collaboration:
- IPHI’s initiative, the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council (FEC), is a local independent food policy council of 22 local leaders working to improve public health and community well-being for Prince George’s County, Maryland. The FEC launched three cold storage trailers in the past year to ensure fresh food is available to those in need and served on the Prince George’s County food security task force to highlight 11 recommendations to improve food security. For more information, visit.
- IPHI is a part of the DC Healthy Housing Collaborative, a multisector coalition addressing substandard housing conditions that contribute to significant health issues affecting District residents. The collaborative works to ensure that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthy no matter where they live. Next month, the Collaborative will support Asthma and Allergy Day Capitol Hill on May 3-4, 2022. For more information, visit.
Thursday, April 7 – World Health Day: Health is a Human Right
Today is a global observance of health as a human right. This human right means that everyone should have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without prejudice or discrimination. When certain groups are excluded or treated unequally, their physical and mental health suffers. From healthcare professionals to policymakers and individuals, community members, or community leaders, we all have a role to play in our personal health and the wellbeing of those around us. Learn more about two important programs that encompass IPHI’s work to ensure health is a human right:
- Healthy Montgomery is a community health improvement process (CHIP) that improves access to health and social services and enhances physical and social environments to support optimal health to achieve health equity for all residents. IPHI works with several partners to identify and describe health disparities in the county’s populations, identify unmet health needs, and develop and implement action plans to meet those needs. The focus areas are:
- Behavioral health
- Cardiovascular disease
- Maternal & infant health
For more information, visit.
- IPHI has partnered with numerous organizations to hire community health workers under Community Health Workers (CHWs) for a Healthy Virginia. The project is funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) with the goal to assist at-risk communities and populations as they respond to and recover from COVID-19. For more information, visit.
Friday, April 8 – Accessibility: Closing the Health Equity Gap
As the health equity gap continues to grow, communities face glaring disparities in health and health care accessibility. By reducing health disparities in health insurance, increasing physical accessibility to care, increasing availability of appropriate care, building more inclusive public health programs, and promoting healthy living, we can improve the health of marginalized groups. Learn more about two important programs that exemplify IPHI’s commitment to closing the health equity gap:
- IPHI’s commitment isn’t just about doing the work, it’s also about sharing our knowledge with organizations and coalitions to address dramatic health inequities in our region. Our Health and Equitable Communities Training fuses theory with practice and allows participants to apply the knowledge and tools presented in training to be implemented in their everyday work to create healthy, equitable, thriving communities. For more information, visit.
- Under RVA Breathes, IPHI worked with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Richmond Henrico Health District (RHHD) to employ four CHWs. The project is a six-year National Institutes of Health research grant that assessed the impact of evidence-based asthma interventions on children with uncontrolled asthma in Richmond. After a successful pilot, the project will be continued by RHHD in June 2022. For more information, visit.