|Dr. Georges Benjamin|
It's my pleasure to welcome you to APHA's 140th Annual Meeting, which officially kicks off this Sunday in San Francisco! This is my 10th Annual Meeting as APHA's executive director and the privilege of welcoming thousands of dedicated colleagues to the world's largest public health gathering never gets old. Indeed, the opportunity to be immersed in that collective excitement to make a difference in people's lives is energizing, reinvigorating and truly one of my favorite parts of the job.
It's been another year of highs and lows for the field, and I'm continuously impressed at how determined public health workers are to adapt to a changing landscape and ensure that all people have the opportunities that afford good health and well-being. Of course, one of the year's highlights was June's Supreme Court ruling upholding nearly every part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I was in Charlotte, N.C., at APHA's Midyear Meeting the morning the ruling came down and I'll never forget it. Surrounded by hundreds of public health practitioners — many of whom had spent their careers working to fix a broken health care system — it was such a joyous moment.
But improving health, preventing disease and eliminating health inequities takes more than just having a health insurance card. It takes a strong, well-supported and resilient public health system. And unfortunately, public health continues to experience funding cuts that endanger our capacity to move forward as well as protect the gains we've worked so hard to accomplish. Such an environment makes coming together for the 140th APHA Annual Meeting even more important.
Swapping best practices and learning from each other's experiences is so critical in these very uncertain times. What works, what doesn't? Which community partners were critical to an effort's success? What part did social media play? How have quality improvement efforts helped boost effectiveness? What difference are health reform and related community grants already making on the ground? How can we best leverage current resources? Should we start billing for clinical services? How can public health use policy to promote better health? And how can public health work across sectors to impact the many social determinants of people's health?
These discussions and so much more await you in San Francisco. Not only are we excited to offer you the latest in public health research and practice, the APHA Annual Meeting is also a time to celebrate our achievements, explore new opportunities, catch up with old friends, meet new ones and organize in support of a strong public health system.
History has shown that public health is a determined and mighty force in making the world a better place for everyone. I look forward to seeing that force on proud display in San Francisco.
Best (and healthy) wishes,
Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E)
American Public Health Association