Public Health Advocacy
The following is adapted from an article written by Robert R. Blackburn.
Health board members must embrace public health if we are to serve the people and be strong positive public health advocates.
Many definitions of advocacy exist ranging from speaking or writing in favor of some thing to building relationships which change attitudes that bring about desired behavior. A simple way to define advocacy is to get the right information, to the right people at the right time, to get the public health message across.
Where do we advocate? The old saying, “All politics is local” is certainly true as it applies to boards of health. As a local board of health member, we are advocates in our local community for public health. We must be advocates to our county commissioners, all local public elected officials and to the general public. We have the opportunity to be advocates on the state level on laws, regulations, and legislation impacting public health. We have the same opportunities on the national level. ANCBH will work to keep you informed on all the above issues.
Being an effective advocate includes five basic concepts.
- Be factual, honest, and knowledgeable about your subject.
- Be clear, concise and concrete with your message.
- You, rather than someone else, must frame the issue.
- Cheerful persistence-we are promoting public health for the long haul.
- Don¹t forget to follow up and say thank you.
To deal with the multi-faceted issues we face in the public health arena, we must find other groups and persons who are committed as well. They may be friends, partners, coalitions, collaborators, or others we will be working with to help us achieve our goals. Remember - “Every Where. Every Day. Every Body.”
Some key national advocacy friends and groups include:
- National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH) – the non-profit, national organization of boards of health to prepare and strengthen boards, and empower boards to promote and protect the health of their communities through education, training, and technical assistance
- American Heart Association (AHA) – a non-profit organization to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke
- American Public Health Association (APHA) – the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health
- National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) – the
non-profit, national organization representing the nation’s
approximately 3,000 local health departments (including city, county,
metro, district, and tribal agencies).
Some key state-level advocacy friends or groups include:
- The three-organizations confluence of:
NC Association of Local Health Directors – A non-profit organization of North Carolina health directors to promote health, prevent disease, protect the environment in order to ensure the public's health in North Carolina through leadership, vision, advocacy, and commitment to the principles of public health practice in our local communities and throughout the state.
NC Public Health Association – A non-profit organization to promote public health and healthy lifestyles in North Carolina.
NC Alliance of Public Health Agencies – A non-profit partnership organization of health departments and county-owned home health agencies to provide and implement innovative strategies and solutions to achieve goals of public health.
Heather Keith Gates, Executive Director.
- NC Alliance for Health – A non-profit, independent, statewide coalition of individuals, businesses and public, private, professional and nonprofit organizations working together to advocate for health improvement policies before North Carolina's legislative and executive branches. Pam Seamans, Executive Director.
- NC American Heart Association - Ashley Bell, Director of Public Advocacy.
- NC Healthy
Schools, Department of Health and Human Services/Division of Public
Health and Department of Public Instruction - The goal of North
Carolina Healthy Schools is to create a working infrastructure
between education and health to enable schools and communities
to create a Coordinated School Health Program.
Rebecca Reeve, PhD, CHES, Senior Advisor for Healthy Schools.
- NC Prevention Partners (NCPP) – A non-profit organization, working with more than 1,500 partners across the state to improve the health of all North Carolinians. Meg Molloy, Executive Director.