“In Good Health” provides an occasional update from APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD. He reports on recent Association activities and upcoming opportunities.

I’m glad to share some of APHA’s latest activities with you and a few exciting opportunities that are just around the corner. With so much going on, I’ll get straight to the point.

Speak for Health

We’ve scored a string of victories already this year, and we couldn’t have done it without you. Yes, YOU! Your visits with legislators, emails and calls have helped us push forward a strong public health agenda. In the House of Representatives, we’ve succeeded in passing a bipartisan background checks bill, an important first step in our efforts to reduce gun violence. We’ve won on two important bills to uphold and strengthen key Affordable Care Act provisions: a ban on so-called short-term junk plans and restored funding for enrollment outreach, and protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. We helped pass a measure to uphold the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement and meet its targets for urgent action on climate change. We prevailed on a bill to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and we won a big boost in funding for key public health agencies.

asbestos-hearing-witnesses_smallThe Senate, of course, still looms ahead, but these victories show that when we raise our collective voice and speak for health, we can make a huge difference for our communities and our families.

On a personal note, I couldn’t have been more proud to have not one, not two, but three APHA members testify in Washington a couple of weeks ago to urge the House to adopt a ban on asbestos. The science overwhelmingly shows that there is no safe level of exposure to this carcinogen. These three dedicated advocates spoke loud and clear that we must act now to protect the public’s health. ICYMI, you can watch the hearing online.

The good news doesn’t stop there! We also won in the courts, where we signed on to briefs that held sway in two important opinions: one that blocked restrictions on Title X family planning funds and a ruling that compels the Food and Drug Administration, which had been delaying its oversight obligations, to regulate e-cigarettes.

To sustain and strengthen our advocacy efforts, we’re excited to again offer our Speak for Health Advocacy Bootcamp. This two-day training July 15-16 is tailored to public health students and early-career professionals to help them become effective public health advocates. Participants will then put those advocacy skills to use in meetings with congressional representatives and staff. If you’re interested, there’s still time to register, but space is going fast!

redfieldbenjaminAPHA hosts CDC and HRSA directors

We were honored to welcome Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield to APHA HQ recently to discuss CDC’s budget and public health priorities. Some of you may know he and I go way back to our early career days and spent years in Maryland working for better health. Health Resources and Services Administration chief George Sigounas also stopped by the office to talk about upcoming activities. It’s gratifying to have capable leaders heading up these important agencies and working with us to create the healthiest nation.

National Public Health Week makes a splash

A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s National Public Health Week celebration among our best yet! Hundreds of local organizers hosted events across the country. From Charleston, South Carolina, to Marion County, Indiana, to San Luis Obispo, California, we were all about raising awareness and honoring the importance of public health. Check out some fabulous photos from the week.

Nationally, our livestreamed kickoff spotlighted grassroots innovations, and our Twitter chat trended and had nearly 100 million impressions. Once again, we bested our goal for the APHA Billion Steps Challenge. Great job, everyone!

New books on oral health and racism

We have two new books from APHA Press that I highly recommend.

Oral Health in America: Removing the Stain of Disparity” explores how untreated dental problems severely impact the nation’s health. It details inequities in an oral health care system that disproportionately affects the poor, those without insurance and underserved communities.

Racism: Science & Tools for the Public Health Professional” examines racism in America from multiple angles. It delves into interpersonal and structural racism, offering health workers insights into the communities in which they work, and examines racism’s influence on U.S. institutions and policy, and its manifestations in interpersonal interactions.

APHA 2019 registration opens June 3

I hope you’re as excited as I am about this year’s APHA Annual Meeting and Expo. We’ve just announced that Sandro Galea, celebrated innovator and dean of Boston University School of Public Health, will help kick things off for us in Philadelphia. Stay tuned! We have more announcements to come. Registration opens Monday, June 3, so clear your calendar and plan to join me — and 13,000 of our public health colleagues — for another exceptional meeting.

As always, I appreciate your ideas and feedback. Let me know what we can do better. I look forward to continuing our work together as we champion the health of all people and all communities.