The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3174.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - Table 1

Abstract #60752

Let justice roll down: Working with faith communities to advocate for the underserved

Kathryn Pitkin Derose, MPH, PhD, Health Program, RAND, 1700 Main St., P.O. Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138, 310-393-0411 ext 6302, and Joanne Leslie, ScD, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772.

Reducing inequities in health and health care by 2010 is the Surgeon General's central public health goal. An increasingly popular strategy for addressing these inequities is collaboration with faith communities to affect behavioral and lifestyle health determinants. Yet faith communities also offer a largely untapped advocacy potential around public health policy issues. The moral voices of religious leaders carry influence beyond members of their own congregations. We begin by presenting a conceptual framework for why faith communities are ideally suited for public health advocacy, including the theological basis, historical involvement in social change movements, and their ability to catalyze public action. We then discuss a case study of one diocese’s experience developing a multi-level health care justice ministry. Activities include forming a diocesan health justice task force; developing a network of parish-based health ministries; educating parishes to approve a new county property tax to support the trauma and emergency system; presenting resolutions at diocesan and national conventions on issues of health care justice; building an ecumenical and inter-faith constituency around health care access; and developing relationships with academic and other public health entities. Lessons learned from this case study include: 1) public health professionals and faith communities must be prepared to move quickly to take advantage of unique opportunities for funding or political action; 2) “health” can be an entry point for inter-faith collaboration; 3) religious voices can keep the dialogue focused on larger justice issues, even though practical compromises may be necessary at times.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Faith Community, Advocacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Impact of religion and spirituality on health

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA