OPHA and Health Equity
I spent the first three days this week at the Ontario Public Health Association 2009 Annual Conference and wow, am I glad that I went. I was especially happy to see that the OPHA and public health in general is shifting to place a greater emphasis on health equity. The conference, which had a theme of Building for the Future, was filled with presentations and discussions about plans to address social determinants of health to improve health outcomes among marginalized individuals.
One thing I was really excited to hear about was the way that the recently updated Ontario Public Health Standards have encouraged some local public health units to review their existing programs and develop new programs through a health equity lens to ensure that the health needs of marginalized populations are met.
By the time I got back to my office, my head was buzzing with all kinds of new ideas and possibilities for partnership and collaboration. As a sample preview, these are some of the main possibilities I may explore:
- Health Providers Against Poverty and potential connections relating to our Street Health Initiative
- Environmental health impact of substandard housing conditions
- Health Equity "Mapping" and framing initiatives within the context of health equity
Another key component of the 2009 OPHA Conference was a strong push for collaboration as a key to accomplishing the goals of public health. Coming from a public health background myself, I fully support the efforts to partner with larger networks and also engage local community members to address health issues across the full spectrum of the population, and especially among those most vulnerable to poor health. I only met a few people from York Region Public Health (possibly due to H1N1 factors), but I do hope that there will be a similar push to increase overall population health by working together to reduce health inequities in York Region.