Advocacy is an important component of public health work. Public health professionals, local organizers, students and others work hand-in-hand with policymakers to ensure their communities have sound, science-based measures in place that can protect and promote health.

At APHA’s Policy Action Institute last month, we asked participants what they’re working on and how they’ll use what they learned at the event.

What are some of the things you are advocating on this year?

KambleWe are advocating for inclusion of social determinants of health in the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services policy of provider reimbursement. CMS reimburses the hospitals and providers, so they have to include social determinants of health like patient level, demographic, socioeconomic factors in their penalties and payments that they make to the hospitals.”
— Kiran Kamble, MPH, doctoral student, University of Memphis School of Public Health


Briggs “I used to work in the commercial tobacco control space, but recently made a switch to working on broader public health authority issues. Seeing all the rollbacks that state legislatures and courts have been making over the last couple years has prompted me (to realize) there are other big issues that we need to work on. I'm here to learn about what folks are doing to address these rollbacks, and to think more proactively about what a vision might be for a unified public health agenda.”
— Darlene Briggs, JD, MPH, deputy director, Act for Public Health Initiative, Network for Public Health Law


Beck “One of them is really challenging: How do academic institutions engage with communities? There's been too many times that we just send out a survey for free and expect communities to be OK with it. I want to see how we can really advocate for reforming that system. Can we compensate people? Can we have common ownership of data or interventions?”
— Chandler Beck, MPH, program manager at University of California-Los Angeles Center for Healthier Children


Ann“My main focus is health equity, which is combined with body image disorders, nutrition, and also mental health. Your nutrition, body image disorders and many other things are connected. So for example, if I have bulimia because somebody has commented on my body, and because of that I’m not eating properly, that can lead to depression.”
— Krupa Ann, student, University of New Haven


What were your takeaways from APHA’s 2023 Policy Action Institute?

“It's hard to advocate alone. There’s something special about community engagement. One of the biggest takeaways is that APHA is a great resource for me, for my work, and to find those connections.”
— Chandler Beck


Adjei “The best thing that I will take back is the feedback from the panelists on how to get across the message. How to implement it, the challenges, your vision, to go for what you want to see, and making sure that's clear in whatever time frame you have to talk to policymakers.”
— Jazmin Adjei, MPH, doctoral student, Jackson State University, and senior epidemiologist, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Butler“I love the messaging around finding common ground and talking to people with curiosity, genuine compassion and interest. I hope that I go back to Utah with this understanding that there are problems to solve, and that the people who are working on the issues are not enemies, per se. There are ways to create bridges and build coalitions that help us accomplish those things right.”
— Carrie Butler, MPH, MPP, executive director of Utah Public Health Association


Guia“People are very hungry and excited to do advocacy and get their information out to decisionmakers and other community members and activists in their community.”
— Sarah de Guia, JD, CEO of ChangeLab Solutions, PAI speaker


Recordings from the Policy Action Institute can be viewed online now.