Goal: Q&A with Mirtha about the NPA and National Stakeholder Strategy. The content will explain what the National Stakeholder Strategy is and how it will be implemented.
OMH: What was the impetus for the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (NPA)?Mirtha Beadle: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established the NPA in response to a call from communities across the country for a nationwide, comprehensive approach to achieving health equity.
For too long these leaders and advocates have been working in isolation to combat health disparities. The NPA is intended to refocus and advance existing efforts, and encourage innovations to deliver better results to the American people.
OMH: You recently unveiled the National Stakeholder Strategy (NSS). What is different about it?Mirtha Beadle: For the first time, we have a set of common goals that we can all work toward. By aligning efforts from the community level all the way up to the federal level and better coordinating public and private sector initiatives, we can increase our effectiveness, leverage resources and make a bigger impact.
The NSS addresses that so much of what affects health happens outside the doctor's office. The strategies and goals outlined in the NSS move us beyond controlling disease to tackling the unequal neighborhood and other conditions that are the root causes of health disparities. It calls on individuals and organizations within the health sector to work with others from housing, education, transportation and other sectors to address the social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to poor health - what we call the social determinants of health.
Finally, the NSS reflects the voices of the communities who are on the frontlines, grappling with these issues every day, and is rooted in their knowledge about what is needed and what works to help close health gaps in this country.
OMH: How can people on the frontlines use the National Stakeholder Strategy to address health disparities in their communities? Mirtha Beadle: We know there is a lot of action out there now in communities but it is dispersed. Part of what we are trying to do with the NPA is drive action in particular areas. We have identified five goals and by working in partnership with many other sectors we think we will get there faster and achieve more deliberate and more palatable outcomes.
Our main objective is to figure out how to start connecting activities that are working-like reducing asthma among children, improving management of high-risk conditions or increasing access to health care for vulnerable populations-and elevate them so that we drive change in a broad way. This doesn't mean that community X or Y changes what they are doing. We just want to make sure that those efforts can have the greatest impact. The first step toward this goal is the creation of 10 regional health equity councils that will use the NSS to finalize a blueprint for their region that builds on effective programs and initiatives in states and communities throughout that region.
OMH: What is the Federal government doing?Mirtha Beadle: HHS has developed an Action Plan (link) in response to the NSS, but other federal agencies play a role in addressing health disparities too, because where people live, learn, work and play affects their health as much as their access to health care.
The Federal Interagency Health Equity Team, which includes representatives of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency, will guide federal agencies and their partners to work together and take action to address the social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to health disparities.
OMH: What is next for the NPA?Mirtha Beadle: Using the NSS as a road map, the NPA will continue to promote and strengthen collaboration across multiple sectors to reduce health disparities.
Our immediate priority is working with the 10 regional health equity councils to help local stakeholders identify problems, set priorities, and work together to reduce health disparities and finalize several important partnerships.
OMH: How can others get involved?Mirtha Beadle: We encourage national, regional, state, tribal, and local organizations to join with us to end health disparities. Pledge your support or find out more about becoming a partner.
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