Georges BenjaminDear APHA members, partners and friends,

It’s my great pleasure to welcome you and thousands of your fellow public health colleagues and supporters to APHA 2021.

This year — which marks our 149th Annual Meeting — we’re rallying around a theme of “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness,” which is particularly resonant nearly two years into a deadly pandemic that’s often kept us apart from loved ones and stressed our collective sense of compassion and duty to one another like few events in recent history.

The pandemic certainly exacerbated the risk and effects of social isolation, but its impacts were already widespread and growing. Rates of so-called “deaths of despair” — deaths due to alcohol, drugs and suicide — were hitting new records even before COVID-19 arrived. But evidence-based public health policies and practices, along with equity-driven community partnerships, can make a difference, which is what we hope to underscore over the next few days.

The theme of social connectedness will weave its way throughout many of APHA 2021’s scientific sessions. On Monday, Oct. 25, for example, a session on “Healing Through Policy: Creating Pathways to Racial Justice” will highlight a new national initiative aimed at developing a suite of policies and practices for promoting racial healing and confronting social inequities. On Tuesday, Oct. 26, “The Impact of Disasters on Community Connection” will explore the critical role of social ties during crisis; and on Wednesday, Oct. 28, “Preventing Social Isolation Across the Lifespan” will take on isolation and loneliness later in life.

Beyond the Annual Meeting’s theme-related sessions, APHA 2021 will also host hundreds of scientific sessions on topics from across the public health spectrum, from aging to zoonotic disease. And don’t miss our general sessions on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, which will host in-depth conversations with national, state and local public health leaders. At the Monday General Session, for example, speakers will talk on the “State of Public Health: Where Do We Go Next?” and will include current CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, as well as former CDC Director William Foege, who helped lead the global campaign that successfully eradicated smallpox. And don't miss Wednesday's Closing General Session, featuring a keynote from former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher and my fireside chat with current Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

Visit our online program today to browse all of this year’s scientific sessions and events and make a plan for your Annual Meeting experience. 

I can’t wait to connect with you at APHA 2021!  

In solidarity and good health,
Georges C. Benjamin, MD
Executive Director

P.S. If you haven’t yet, consider donating to our annual Help Us Help Them campaign, which benefits a service organization in the Annual Meeting’s host city of Denver. The recipient of this year campaign is the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, which coordinates services and housing for people experiencing homelessness. Donations can be made via your Annual Meeting registration form. If you’ve already registered, you can log back into your record to make a contribution.