Emory Report
April 3, 2006
Volume 58, Number 25


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April 3, 2006
National Public Health Week looks to boost Rollins’ profile

BY alfred charles

The Rollins School of Public Health will host a weeklong series of events this month designed to raise awareness on campus about the role of public health and how it impacts society.

The sessions are part of National Public Health Week, observed throughout the country April 3-9. This year’s theme is “Designing Healthy Communities, Raising Healthy KIDS,” and activities on Emory’s campus include a town hall forum to address alternative transportation needs at the University, a discussion about child abuse and neglect, a picnic, block party and rigorous work-out sessions. The events are free and open to all in the University community. For a complete schedule of events, log on to www.sph.emory.edu/NPHW/.

A central element of the week is an address by Rollins Dean Jim Curran on Thursday, April 6, at 11:30 a.m., in which he is expected to lay out the accomplishments and challenges facing the school and those who practice public health.

Organizers said they hope the week will boost Rollins’ profile while shedding light on the vital role of public health.

“Public health is no longer something that is just dealt with by the American Medical Association,” said student Jerry Abraham, president of public health’s Student Government Association and one of the week’s primary organizers. “We all have to deal with it whether we are rich or poor.”

The week’s events are grouped around a theme, with each day reserved for a different topic. For example, Monday, April 3, revolves around the “built environment,” and each session that day will address issues relating to infrastructure and its role in public health. Wednesday’s theme is legislative action day; events are geared toward public policy implications on public health.

Lauren Biazzo, another key organizer of the week, said the planning committee has been working since February to produce one of the largest organized observations of National Public Health Week at Emory in recent memory.

“It’s been a lot of work,” she said. “But we’re excited to see it happen.”

Biazzo and Abraham said they decided to kick start the University’s participation because they believe everyone on campus can benefit from a discussion of public health.

Said Abraham: “I think we can all be part of the solution, and that is what public health is all about.”
University administrators have envisioned a future that places a large premium on public health. To that end, health is a central theme in Emory’s strategic plan, which includes a goal of placing the Rollins School among the top five public health schools in the world.

The plan calls for the school to be known around the world for its excellence and collaborative research. And Rollins seems to be well on the road to accomplishing that goal. Emory was one of 22 universities invited to participate in a recent national town hall meeting, held by the Citizens Health Care Working Group, to discuss U.S. health care improvement.

The University of Michigan hosted the two-hour program, held March 22 and beamed live via satellite into the School of Health’s Rita Ann Rollins room.

During the program, a panel in Michigan proposed provocative questions about health care and sought input from participants gathered on the campuses of the 22 other schools.

Brad Herring, assistant professor of health policy and management and a representative for Emory during the event, said the committee is now expected to produce a report, which will be delivered to the U.S. Congress and contain specific suggestions for health care reform.