On Saturday, April 21, 2012 The African-American Health Council of Southeastern CT (AAHC) and Ledge Light Health District hosted a Minority Health Summit.
The AAHC was established in 2007, initially to serve as an advisory body for Ledge Light Health District’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention for Connecticut’s Black Residents program, funded by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health.
The AAHC is a culturally diverse, multidisciplinary, community-based coalition whose vision is a healthier Black community. AAHC membership includes community stakeholders representing local hospitals and medical providers, human service agencies, emergency response teams, businesses, civic organizations, the faith community, educators, healthcare professionals, and concerned citizens.
With the goal of securing and sustaining a continuously improving state of health and wellness for communities of color in Southeastern Connecticut, the AAHC is also focused on reducing racial and ethnic health disparities by examining the social determinants of health and addressing health inequities.
For this reason, the AAHC and Ledge Light Health District invited local and state public health professionals and practitioners, community-based and faith-based organizations and interested community members to the first annual Minority Health Summit in Mystic, Connecticut.
Goals of the Minority Health Summit include:
- Expose attendees to health and healthcare issues impacting minority populations in Southeastern Connecticut and increase their knowledge and awareness of these issues;
- Review local health data to discuss strategies for mobilizing individuals and organizations for action (action = being active in establishing a continuum of optimal community health);
- Provide opportunities for networking and learning from others; and
- Celebrate five years of Accomplishments of the AAHC.
In his greetings, Director of Health Baker Salsbury said, “The AAHC is crucial because we need an informed discussion leading to informed negotiations… we are in a negotiation at the Federal, State and Local level about what constitutes health equity. We are not in agreement—that’s extraordinary. These negotiations are tough… and it’s the AAHC and groups like it that lend focus, intelligence and dignity to the struggle for negotiations for public health; and in so-doing, they lend one of the highest causes that all of us contribute our life to—and that’s to insert prevention into the economic and political processes of our society.”
In his keynote address, Rev. Kenn Harris, Co-Chair of the AAHC described the council’s focus, stating, “The work of the AAHC has been to address and to eradicate health disparities and increase the opportunity for African-Americans to enjoy the highest quality of life in the communities where they live, learn, work, play and pray.”
Breakout session conversations were lively and engaging. Many participants stated in their evaluations that 50 minutes was “too short” for the sessions. The topics were:
- Building Leaders on the Front Line (facilitated by Betty Murray, CT Cancer Partnership & Hartford Hospital)
- Using Social Networking to Create Healthier Communities (facilitated by Heang Tan, HealthJusticeCT)
- Communicating: Cross-Cultural Encounters (facilitated by Nadesha Mijoba, Mijoba Communications/Provenance Center)
- Shifting the Focus to Policy Changes (facilitated by Elizabeth Krause, CT Health Foundation)
- Connecting Faith-based Leadership & Healthy Communities (facilitated by Rev. Kenn Harris, Co-Chair AAHC and Project Director, New Haven Healthy Start)
Soooooooooooooo… NOW WHAT?
Now the feedback and notes from the breakout sessions are used to begin the STRATEGIC PLANNING process for the AAHC. The vision and mission will be examined and perhaps modified. Will the AAHC rebrand? Who knows? What we DO know it this… despite a recent report citing Connecticut as one of the healthiest states, disparities in health outcomes remain… and not just in the larger urban areas like the one mentioned in that article.
I got kind of upset when I read that article… because for me it meant that the resources that could or should have been allocated to our state to address & eliminate health disparities AND inequities would be redirected to some other state that demonstrated more of a need.
If you need proof that racial and ethnic health disparities exist in the 3rd healthiest state in the nation, I’m sure the data is available for a multitude of sources– hospitals, public health departments, social service agencies, etc.
The AAHC is putting together a report on data collected from a survey from 2010-2011 (should be ready in a few weeks). This report will be one of many that put southeastern Connecticut on the map when it comes to disparate health outcomes.
In a separate blog, I plan to be very specific about some data in our neck of the woods… stay tuned for that (hint some good, some bad, some UGLY).
What can you do?
- Become active in your commUNITY’s efforts to be healthier.
- Participate in all planning efforts in your commUNITY (City Council, Planning & Zoning, Education, Housing, etc.) to make sure the health of your commUNITY is considered at these important tables
- Assist in planning and implementation of policies to keep your commUNITY healthy.
- Support/promote commUNITY initiatives and programs that contribute to the overall health of your commUNITY
Bottom line is you need to get involved. It’s likely in the next blog where I discuss some local data, I’ll also discuss how WE, individually and collectively, can make a difference. Okay… this is all for this entry. Beware- I will be spending even more time on my soapbox in the next post.
That is all.
This was originally posted on April 29, 2012 on Stephanye Clarke’s blog.
Photos by Tom Ficklin
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