Partnerships Are Essential

Nationwide as Chronic Disease programs strive for equitable and sustainable health outcomes across all groups, leaders must work to partner with various organizations and community leaders. To do this requires head and heart knowledge as well as a perspective transformation as to what is believed to be possible in public health and a removal of the perceived limitations on who public health partners should be.

Health begins where we live, learn, work and play. According to the American Public Health Association, public health agencies are responsible for protecting, assessing, and assuring individual, community, and environmental health. Often, public health professionals are familiar with health outcomes for groups and communities by census tract and census block groups, but how familiar are Chronic Disease Directors with the organizations and individual community leaders that serve specific communities? Building those relationships must be intentional and sustained long term.

According to the CDC, comprehensive studies of health-related community partnerships confirm that partnerships play a significant role in improving public health. Although every partnership is unique, research reveals that high-performance health-related community partnerships appear to have specific strategies and practices in common, while low-performance partnerships are deficient in one or more of these same strategies and practices. There are nine practices that are common in high performing partnerships:

1.     Use a mutual selection process when recruiting partners

2.     Encourage size and value diversity

3.     Recruit partners who are leaders within stakeholder communities

4.     Understand and address partner motivations

5.     Establish ground rules (codes of conduct)

6.     Embrace a common vision

7.     Develop commitment through leadership

8.     Create decision-making protocols

9.     Anticipate and manage conflict

More information about the above practices can be found at cdc.gov/tb/publications/guidestoolkits/forge/pdfs/chpt3.pdf.

Chronic Disease Directors in state public health agencies cannot reduce health disparities alone. There is a role that non-traditional stakeholders play in developing effective strategies to promote health in communities. These stakeholders include the faith-based community, community development organizations, transportation, education, housing, community and neighborhood champions, and many more. The time is now to remove barriers in engaging partners so that positive sustainable health outcomes can be realized for everyone through policy, education, individual and collective action.

Please join the Health Equity Council at 2 p.m. EST every second Tuesday of each month. Contact Robyn Taylor at rtaylor@chronicdisease.org for more information.