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LPHI and Healthy Blue Announce Actionable Next Steps Following Racial and Health Equity Symposium

On Thursday, March 11, the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) and Healthy Blue hosted the first annual Racial and Health Equity Symposium, bringing together more than 550 individuals and organizations from across Louisiana and beyond to address systemic inequities and build relationships to achieve racial and health equity. The Symposium explored how systemic racism has impacted public health efforts for generations and declared it a public health crisis.

During the event, speakers discussed and answered participant questions on topics including the impact of poverty on community health; the intersection of mental health, the education system, and mass incarceration; and how the healthcare industry can address race-based disparities and access to quality healthcare.

“The first annual Symposium was inspiring and thought-provoking,” said Dr. Christy Valentine, Healthy Blue Plan President. “I want to thank our speakers and panelists who challenged norms, generated ideas, and facilitated discussions around how attendees and partners can work together to address racial and health inequities in Louisiana.”

During the conclusion of the Symposium, LPHI announced the creation of a coalition dedicated to ending institutional racism in Louisiana, and participants were offered the opportunity to sign up and further their advocacy. Healthy Blue will continue the work towards equity by sponsoring a series of Racial Equity Learning Labs that LPHI will facilitate throughout the year.

“We wanted to ensure that the momentum from the Symposium was not lost and that actionable opportunities were created for attendees to continue the important work of achieving racial and health equity,” said Shelina Davis, CEO of LPHI. “The coalition and learning labs offer an opportunity for participants to better understand how to start and continue working on these issues in their own communities – leading to a healthier and more equitable Louisiana.”

The coalition will work with diverse individuals and multi-sectoral organizations to recognize and address structural racism as a social driver of health, by acknowledging and addressing persistent racial disparities in criminal justice, housing, education, healthcare, employment, worker protections, climate, food access, and technology; and engage all communities to advance health equity.

The LPHI coalition will also work with the state to declare racism as a public health crisis in Louisiana.

Similar declarations are currently happening across the nation. Currently, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, have legislation towards this end. These declarations are an important step to receiving funding and resources to achieve health equity. Those interested in joining the coalition can register here. The first meeting will be held virtually on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

The Racial and Health Equity Learning Lab is a unique professional development experience for Louisiana community and public health leaders. Twenty-five community leaders will be selected to participate in the six-month cohort. Interested individuals can submit an application here.

With support from Healthy Blue, LPHI is partnering with the Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI) to conduct its ADJUST (Advancing Justice Together) Workshop that will increase the statewide technical knowledge and training capacity of community health leaders in Louisiana. During the Learning Lab, participants will increase their knowledge of core racial equity concepts and develop action plans for local application of training curriculum.

Participants will be better equipped with understanding, compassion, and capacity for action around issues of equity, equality, and fairness in the public health field and our communities. These trainings will provide the foundation for a collective community strategy with strategic goals and benchmarking for creating statewide movement for equitable practices, policies, and procedures that encourage and sustain diversity and positive changes.

These collective efforts by LPHI and Healthy Blue will culminate at the Second Annual Racial and Health Equity Symposium in 2022.