271619 Health Equity through Policy Change: A Local Health Department's Story

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 8:48 AM - 9:06 AM

Alexandra Desautels, MSW , Community, Assessment, Planning, and Education/Evaluation Unit, Alameda County Public Health Department, Oakland, CA
Kimi Watkins-Tartt , Community Health Services, Alameda County Public Health Department, Oakland, CA
Rebecca Flournoy , Alameda County Public Health Department, Oakland, CA
Despite overall improvement in health outcomes among Alameda County residents, serious health inequities persist. Public health departments should play a key role in addressing the root causes of these inequities. The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) is working to achieve health equity by transforming its organization through institutional change and a strategic plan for eliminating health inequities; working with residents on neighborhood initiatives and building partnerships; advancing policies that impact social and health inequities; supporting this innovative work with data and research; and connecting its programs and services to all of these areas. On this panel, ACPHD will share its innovative policy and systems change work. ACPHD has two approaches: 1) a proactive policy process that is based on a community-centered local policy agenda; 2) a reactive process that responds to community concerns. This presentation will cover the history behind ACPHD's policy work and highlight some successes thus far, including: 1) developing and implementing community-centered local policy agenda focused on education, economics, criminal justice, housing, land use, and transportation; 2) building the capacity of partners and staff to use a health equity framework to advance social justice; 3) using Health Impact Assessments to influence various decision, including Oakland Unified School District's funding formula and City of Oakland's effort to bring a big-box food retailer to an underserved neighborhood; 4) collaborating to orient City of Oakland's code enforcement process toward improving health outcomes; and 5) working with ACPHD staff to connect services to advocacy efforts.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe why engaging in local policy work that impacts social determinants of health is a critical strategy for local health departments who are working to achieve health equity. List the concrete steps local health departments can take to build their capacity to engage local policy work. Discuss how tools such as health impact assessments can be used and adapted to support health equity policy advocacy. Identify essential components for local health departments engaging in health equity policy work, including building staff and partner capacity and forming and strengthening non-traditional partnerships, especially with grassroots membership-based groups.

Keywords: Policy/Policy Development, Organizational Change

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Local Policy Manager at the Alameda County Public Health Department.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.