2016 ASTHO President’s Challenge Announced: “Advancing Health Equity and Optimal Health for All”

October 01, 2015|6:47 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

At the 2015 ASTHO Annual Meeting, Minnesota Commissioner of Health and new ASTHO President Edward Ehlinger introduced the 2016 ASTHO President’s Challenge, “Advancing Health Equity and Optimal Health for All.” In his talk, Ehlinger discussed how the United States’ striking health disparities inspired his challenge. As a physician, Ehlinger has looked at the medical conditions that contribute to health, but knows that medical intervention only contributes about 10 percent to individual health. Ehlinger wants states to go back to their roots, change how they do their public health work, and change their public health practices in order to help assure the conditions in which all people can be healthy. To achieve these goals, Ehlinger wants to use a “triple aim” for health equity:

Expand the understanding of what creates health. Ehlinger believes that we should change the dominant narrative that health is determined mostly by medical care and personal choices.

Take a “health in all policies” approach, with health equity as the goal. By taking a broader view of what creates health, Ehlinger believes that states can better understand how polices related to transportation, housing, education, public safety, or environmental protection can impact health outcomes. However, he cautions states to be sure to consider some important questions:

  • What are the health implications of the policy or program?
  • What are the health and equity outcomes?
  • What outcomes do we want?
  • Who is benefiting?
  • Who is left out?
  • Who should be targeted to benefit?

Strengthen the capacity of communities to create their healthy future. Ehlinger believes that states should involve communities in creating policies and systems that improve conditions for their residents.