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Topics > Reducing Health Disparities Initiative > What We Are Doing > National Dialogue to Begin on Health Disparities

National Dialogue to Begin on Health Disparities


Tracy Ann Jones speaks during the small group sessions at Learning from Each Other while Julie Freestone records the group's ideas.

This spring, the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) will be airing Unnatural Causes, a television series meant to sound the alarm about the United States' glaring socioeconomic and racial disparities in health - and to seek out root causes. The four-hour documentary is being produced by California Newsreel with Vital Pictures Inc. Conceived as part of an ambitious public education campaign conducted in partnership with leading public health, policy, and community-based organizations, the producers hope Unnatural Causes will help foster a new and hopeful approach to the public's health. Their promotional material says, "As Harvard epidemiologist David Williams points out, investing in our schools, improving housing, integrating neighborhoods, better jobs and wages, giving people more control over their work - these are as much health strategies as smoking, diet and exercise. And these are the stories Unnatural Causes will tell." CCHS will be joining dozens of organizations in the Bay Area and across the country in promoting the dialogue and using it to promote local agendas to address health disparities.

Creating a Local Agenda

CCHS will be holding three regional meetings in Contra Costa in May for elected officials, community leaders, policy makers and other stakeholders to discuss local health disparities, spotlight efforts already underway to reduce those disparities and begin to develop a local agenda. Dr. William Walker, Health Services Director, says the meetings are timed to springboard off the heightened awareness related to the Public Broadcasting System's airing of Unnatural Causes and begin involving the community in the department's Reducing Health Disparities (RHD) commitment. "Our 2007-08 RHD Plan is very consistent with the national dialogue that the PBS special will spark. We want our communities to partner with us to improve the health of our residents," says Dr. Walker. A Planning Committee has been formed to develop the regional meetings. It will hold its first meeting in January. For information or to get involved, call RHD Manager Concepcion James of 925-957-5421. For copies of CCHS' Five-Year Overview and One-Year Plan, contact Lauren Stoddard at 957-5422.

We Start "Learning from Each Other "

The first session of Learning from Each Other (LEO) launched last month with more than 30 CCHS staff on hand to brainstorm how to involve local policy makers and community leaders in a dialogue about health disparities. Learning from Each Other aims to give RHD champions throughout the department an opportunity to share ideas, strategies and resources.

At this session, Chuck McKetney, manager of the Community Health Assessment, Planning and Evaluation, gave an overview of local disparities. He described the disparities in outcomes for African Americans in asthma hospitalization, cancer and homicides and among Latinos and African Americans for obesity. The next LEO session will focus on community engagement issues.

Read the results of the brainstorm session on iSite. Contact Dawna Vann at dvann@hsd.cccounty.us or 925-957-5436 for more information about upcoming LEO sessions.

"What's the Community Got to Do with It?"

Learning from Each Other, the new Reducing Health Disparities resource-and strategy-sharing program, holds its next session in January. "What's the Community Got to Do with It?" is the topic, and it will feature a number of successful local programs that engage local residents and organizations in addressing health disparities. Call Lauren Stoddard at 925-957-5422 to RSVP.



Content provided by the Reducing Health Disparities Initiative.


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