Good public health is synonymous with healthy communities. And though a national infrastructure works to create a healthier America, its influence is obstructed by barriers, or “silos,” that prevent the public health workforce from working well together.

This week in Atlanta, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is hosting public health’s community health leaders for three days of hands-on training, networking opportunities, and evaluating the good and bad of the U.S. health system, neighborhood by neighborhood.

CDC's Peter Briss speaks at the Division of Community Health Awardee Training plenary in Atlanta.

CDC’s Peter Briss speaks at the Division of Community Health Awardee Training plenary in Atlanta. Photo by Daniel Greenberg, APHA

At the crux of CDC’s mission is empowering its base of Community Transformation Grant, or CTG awardees, who are in attendance. Funded by the Affordable Care Act, CTGs work to personalize health at the local level — and in turn, prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

“You’re all good people but your inclination is not to go deep into the community [to improve its health],” said Anthony Iton of the California Endowment, in describing his recipe for healthy communities. “What we need to do is to build a political constituency for prevention in our communities. Health is political.”

Doing that is easier said than done, and the more than 500 attendees are learning a variety of strategies to enhance the reach of their work, such as:

  • community engagement, including non-traditional partnerships;
  • producing powerful data;
  • using traditional and social media on limited budgets; and
  • how to announce loud, local success stories.

Additionally, the conference includes sessions on targeted health topics such as nutrition, transportation, hypertension and school wellness.

“Public health is a team sport; we can’t do this alone,” said Leonard Jack Jr., of CDC’s Division of Community Health. “It’s up to us to position [CTG] awardees to be successful.”

APHA is a CTG grantee, one of three national networks that received a dissemination award.

Visit Public Health Newswire tomorrow for in-depth coverage of CDC’s community health conference.