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Public Health and the US Presidential Election

Posted on November 14, 2016

The recent campaign and election have created turmoil, uncertainly and anxiety among many of us, and most certainly within the public health community. Since health is inextricably linked to the very social, economic and political issues that were so hotly debated during the campaign and that will continue to be debated in the days ahead, we know that there may be profound implications for the health of the public and for public health practice and policies.

In these times of uncertainty it is important for us to return to, reflect on, and continue to advance our core values. Public health has many shared values, but perhaps three fundamental ones of particular relevance today are : (1) a commitment to ensuring the conditions necessary for all persons to be heathy regardless of race, country of origin, gender or sexual orientation, social class or place of residence; this includes eliminating racism and discrimination in all its forms, valuing diversity and inclusion, and promoting a just and fair society; (2) a recognition of the critical role that environmental factors broadly defined play as determinants of health, determinants that are by definition outside of the control of individuals but that can and indeed are affected by the way we organize our society and by the policies we adopt; and (3) a firm belief in the role of evidence and rigorous science in driving policy along with critical considerations of equity and justice. Our school is firmly committed to these core values.

Over the past week, students, faculty and staff have already come together in classrooms, conference rooms, workplaces and many hallways to engage in conversations and exchanges about these values, their  importance and what we can—and must—do as a community to continue to move them forward. We will be convening a series of events to build on and continue these conversations, and most importantly to discuss and exchange our ideas of what we can do to make our public health core values a reality.

Please join us for our first event on Thursday, December 1 for a panel discussion on “The 2016 US Presidential election: implications for public health.” Speakers will launch the conversation by reflecting on the implications of the election for key public health issues and on next steps for the public health community. We will touch on many important public health issues including access to health care, health implications of immigration, environment and climate change, global health challenges, the public health system, health equity, and the critical roles of diversity and inclusion in promoting public health. We will then engage in an open conversation around these issues and the future of public health.

We see this event as the beginning of a series of conversations where we will expand on these issues and others in more depth. We invite all of our community and our partners all over the region to engage in these critical conversations and to join us as we renew our commitment to protect and promote the health of the public.