Investing in community leaders is essential
Applications to the 2024 Restuccia Health Justice Fellowship are now open!
No matter who you are or where you live, the “public” should be at the center of public health.
Our public health system is meant to make sure that the places where you live, learn, work, and play promote your well-being. It’s not just U.S. mortality rates or disease statistics. It’s the quality of life that people experience across the variety of communities that make up the United States: from each state and territory to every tribal land, town, city, county, and neighborhood.
Public health work is achieved by facilitating healthy environments, from clean air and water to safe and accessible park spaces. It includes tracking and preventing the spread and impact of diseases, including cancer and infectious diseases like the flu and HIV/AIDS. And it involves raising awareness about how to prevent injuries and promote overall health and well-being, not just for individuals but for entire communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic made even clearer what so many communities in our country already knew — that our nation’s public health system is not even close to achieving its goals. By every measure of public health, that failure disproportionately harms systemically excluded communities, including LGBTQ+ people and Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latino, and Pacific Islander communities.
From critical vaccine access initiatives (including for COVID-19) to initiatives designed to address glaring health disparities, leaders across the country are doing important work. All work that can serve as an essential foundation to building a public health system better able to fulfill the promise of community health.
These leaders know that the system can only be reimagined if the people who are most impacted by its failures are at the center of designing the solutions that will guide the future of public health.
Building on the work Community Catalyst has done to promote vaccine equity and to advance equitable policies around substance use disorders and mental health, we are forging partnerships with organizations across the country to rebuild a public health system with community at its core. Because we know that community members are experts in what they need to truly be healthy — and we know that community-based organizations are foundational to the success of any public health system.
We are collaborating with organizations across the country to develop and drive policies that make our public health system accountable to communities — and to embrace the essential role community-based organizations play as a part of our public health system.