Acting Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Karen DeSalvo in Allegheny County, the first stop on the Public Health 3.0 Listening Tour
It is hard to overstate the remarkable progress we have made in health and health care over the past seven years.
Today, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 20 million more Americans have access to health coverage - a nearly unthinkable political and public health accomplishment. Perhaps equally impressive is the 50,000 lives (and $12 billion) saved over just the past 4 years thanks to a renewed focus on hospital-acquired conditions.
Yet on the ground, in our communities, public health leaders and front-line health workers continue to face a growing set of challenges and responsibilities. They confront these challenges daily while grappling with budgets that continue to shrink, even in the face of research which shows that now - more than ever - addressing the social determinants of health has the potential to improve the lives and well-being of every citizen in a community.
This reality requires a shift in the way we address public health in America. Because while we live at a time when your zip code is more important to your health than your genetic code, health experts and officials have borne the brunt of the responsibility for ensuring the health of our neighborhoods; the truth is that we need all of our leaders, in both the public and private sectors, engaged in public health.
We need our medical leaders to work closely with our business community, religious leaders, non-profit executives, and public sector leaders who manage everything from transportation to education to sanitation.
As public health leaders, we need a new model that supports the health of everyone who lives, learns, works, and plays in our neighborhoods. And we are calling this effort Public Health 3.0.
Public Health 3.0 is not a set of policy prescriptions. It is not a set of rules or laws. It is the start of a conversation.
The best way to start that conversation is by listening, which is why we have launched a Public Health 3.0 Listening Tour of communities throughout our country.
Our first two events have been a tremendous success - in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and Santa Rosa, California, we brought together a diverse coalition of leaders, experts, and local health officials to share best practices and hear about the challenges facing each of our communities. In my next post, I will explore what we learned from these leaders and how we might apply some of those lessons to every neighborhood in America.
But until then, our tour is far from finished. On June 14th we will be in Nashville, Tennessee, June 21st we will be in Kansas City, Missouri, and on July 11th, we will travel to Spokane, Washington. I hope you will join us there, but if you cannot make it, I hope you will follow the events on social media (using the hashtag #PH3), where we will be documenting our trip and talking about the ways we can advance public health throughout our country.