Systemic inequities such as racism impact individuals across the social determinants of health and create unequal opportunities for individuals to stay healthy. In an engaging webinar from SOPHE, the panelists shared insights on racism in the context of both public health and society at large, and offered ways for public health professionals and others to engage in their work and communities as anti-racists. We are inspired by the call to engage further in this work of anti-racism.
National Health Education Week is held annually in October to increase awareness on public health issues and promote a better understanding of the role of health education. The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) hosted webinars this week that featured discussions of health inequities in the context of racism and the pandemic.
Counter Tools attended a SOPHE webinar entitled, “Equity and Anti-Racism Approaches to Public Health”. The webinar messaging strongly resonated with our work to advance place-based public health and health equity initiatives. Anti-racism work is an essential part of every aspect of public health across the spectrum of practitioners – for educators, policy advocates, epidemiologists, and more. Counter Tools agrees with the assessment from the panelists that removing racism from public health infrastructure and practice will improve the health of all.
One of the helpful strategies the panelists shared was about how public health organizations should aim to be more engaged with anti-racism work and be intentional about the impact they want to achieve. At Counter Tools we work to incorporate these guidelines into all of our trainings and presentations with our partners, and make sure to tailor the message for each audience based on the context of their local communities. We strive to follow the panelists’ example of sharing advice and insights with our partners on how they could further engage with their local communities as allies and advocates, and collaborate with others that are doing the work.
This work is more urgent now than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Inequities in the social determinants of health, such as poverty and healthcare access, contribute to the effect of the pandemic on people of color. Public health officials should be at the forefront of the discussion of how racism has impacted the health of these populations. The webinar panelists call on us all to help work on solutions and raise the consciousness. To paraphrase panelist Dr. Chandra L. Ford, we need to embrace boldness and not be tepid in a time when action is being called for.
We are inspired by this call to engage further in this work of anti-racism, and aim to continue to empower and equip communities with the resources, knowledge and understanding necessary to combat racism, health disparities, and inequality. We are committed to continually learn from those who are sharing their expertise.
The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) is a nonprofit, independent professional association that represents a diverse membership of nearly 4,000 health education professionals and students in the United States and 25 international countries. Their mission is to provide global leadership to the profession of health education and health promotion and to promote the health of society. Their webinar recordings are housed in SOPHE’s CORE elearning area.