February Impact Brief Message

Guest article by Pascale D. Edouard, DrPH, MPH, Program Manager, NACDD Center for Justice in Public Health

The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) Center for Justice in Public Health (CJPH) commemorates this February 2024 as Black History Month, recognizing the important role of Black Americans in U.S. History. Black Americans have significantly contributed to the nation’s greatness through innovations like Garrett Morgan’s three-way traffic light; Dr. Charles Drew’s contributions to the development of a safe, effective, blood collection system and organizing America’s first large scale blood bank system; and Katherine Johnson’s role as the first Black woman to work as a NASA scientist and playing an important role in America’s moon landing. Despite these substantial contributions, Black people continue to face systemic discrimination based on the societal construct of race. As we honor these achievements, NACDD is committed to advancing health equity, racial equity, and social justice toward a more just and equitable society.

Consequently, in 2023 NACDD established the CJPH to ensure that social justice is a cornerstone of public health and embeds equitable strategies across the Association’s policies, practices, and partnerships. Among some of the Center’s more recent accomplishments include:

  • Hosting NACDD’s inaugural National Day of Racial Healing event. The National Day of Racial Healing is an initiative of the WK Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation framework. Held the day following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it is a day when individuals, organizations, and communities across the U.S. come together to explore their common humanity and build the relationships necessary to create a more equitable world.
  • Partnering with the Build Healthy Places Network (BHPN) to organize a thought leader roundtable. This event brought together national and state leaders to foster collaboration between the public health and community development sectors. The aim was to promote health and racial equity through upstream partnerships. The outcomes of this roundtable, including key recommendations and strategies for public health to engage with professionals shaping the built environment to further racial equity goals, are detailed in a primer resulting from the event that will be released soon.
  • Collaborating with Dope Labs to learn of innovative and best practices to collect and share data representative of underserved and underrepresented communities. Dope Labs was established with the mission of empowering these communities by providing them with a voice in the design and development of products, environments, and spaces that significantly influence their daily experiences.
  • Developing an asynchronous customized online platform to provide a comprehensive health equity training to state health departments and partner organizations. This tool aims to promote a greater understanding of health disparities and inequities with the goal of exploring individual and collective action towards achieving health equity for all.
  • Releasing the NACDD Social Justice Framework to guide the work of the Association and provide members with a blueprint for embedding social justice into the work of chronic disease programs within State and Territorial Health Departments. This framework was developed collaboratively with the Center for Advancing Healthy Communities.

Upcoming activities that the CJPH is leading include:

  • Leveraging NACDD’s Social Justice Framework to Advance Public Health Practice General Member Webinar (February 22, 2024)
  • Aftershock Documentary Film Discussion (February 22, 2024)
  • Social Justice Thought Leader Roundtable (April 16-17, 2024)

NACDD’s CJPH was launched with the goal of ensuring social justice becomes a cornerstone of public health. CJPH works to raise awareness of health inequities by providing resources and tools, capacity building, training, technical assistance, and sharing opportunities to NACDD Members. The Center also works to advance policy and advocacy in support of equitable chronic disease prevention and control. We are pleased with the Center’s progress thus far in aligning with NACDD’s mission to “promote social justice and wellbeing so that communities can build healthier futures.” However, we know there is still much work to be done.

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