By Dennis Archambault
One of the promising developments to come out of the Flint water crisis has been the Public Health Advisory Commission. As commissions go, it initially appeared to be an action that was as promising as a constructive dialogue could be – short of substantive and systemic change. That doesn’t seem to be the case, at least as far as the report goes.To begin with, the commission was well-represented with health providers, educators, non-profit executives, academicians, and several other stakeholders of the public health system. Eden Wells, M.D., MPH chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, served as chair. His comments introducing the commission’s report reflect the potential of its recommendations: “hope that the recommendations will energize a statewide effort towards a more comprehensive, cohesive, accountable and effective public health system.” He also acknowledged that the state “is committed to public health excellence, recognizing the need for change in order to truly achieve a transformational public health system.”
One should key into the word “transformational.” One might also add a word: “disruptive.”
The three top priorities for consideration are significant:
1. Create a permanent Public Health Advisory Council. This would ensure that a vehicle exists to address emerging state and local health issues;
2. Ensure all state departments employ a “health in all policies” approach when implementing policies and programs, “elevating public health”;
3. Recognize disparities in public health funding and unmet needs throughout the state.
These are only three of 39 recommendations. If the governor addresses just these three the state will be much better off. We have been advocating for a health in all policies approach to government decisions, along with others throughout Michigan. Now is the time to advocate for this method of ensuring that actions taken by government are indeed in the interest of the citzenry – certainly in the health interests of the citizenry.
Check out this report for yourself: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/snyder/PHAC_Final_Report_556718_7.pdf
Dennis Archambault is vice president, Public Affairs, for Authority Health