OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Conference Takes on Pressing Public Health Issues

09/29/2008

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Global and local health disparities, the effects of climate change on human health and long-term health care solutions for chronic diseases are just a few of the emerging issues in public health that will be addressed during the two-day Oregon Public Health Association Conference, scheduled for Oct. 6-7 at Oregon State University.

The annual conference is jointly sponsored by Oregon Public Health Association (OPHA) and a number of allied professional organizations. This year’s event is being hosted at OSU by the Department of Public Health and will be held at OSU’s LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis.

“The aim of our organization is to educate and support public health workers and to advocate for just and equitable health policies,” said Lesli Uebel, President of OPHA. “Our annual conference brings a wide variety of public health practitioners, academicians and students together in order to advance efforts that promote and protect the health of all Oregonians.”

Marie Harvey, chair of OSU’s Department of Public Health and co-organizer of the event said the meeting brings public health professionals, researchers and the public together to address some of the most pressing-public health concerns of local communities.

“Not only do we get exposed to new and emerging issues that are surfacing, but we also get to talk to the people on the frontlines,” she said.

In addition to her work as co-organizer, Harvey will also be part of a group to lead a discussion on Latino outreach in health research.

Tom Eversole, director of strategic development for a School of Public Health at OSU, said one of the big issues right now is climate change and its effect on the public’s health.

Eversole will lead a discussion session on establishing a collaborative school of public health in Oregon. The session will explore the feasibility of starting a school, as well as give details on what is required to have an accredited school and how a collaborative school could be configured. Eversole said OSU, Portland State University and Oregon Health Science University all have strong public health programs, and a collaborative accredited school that preserves and enhances capacity at all three is the next step.

“What’s new and evident in public health is that we have to think outside of our silos,” he said. “We have to promote environments and social conditions that support people in adopting and sustaining healthy behaviors. Oregon requires a proficient and academically prepared workforce to achieve that goal.”

Other sessions at the conference include:
• Dan Beauchamp, Emeritus Professor of the University of North Carolina, will address: “Chasing the Body Politic: Chasing the Body Politic: Public Health as Social Justice in a Divided Democracy.”
StephanieBernell, associate professor at OSU, on “United States Farm Policy and Obesity Related Health Expenditures.”
• Catherine Thomasson, of Physicians for Social Responsibility, on “Health Effects of War” and “Health Effects of Global Warming.”
• Stacey Williams of Portland-based Ecotrust on “Farm to School and School Gardens”
• OSU Extension faculty member Sharon Johnson will talk about “Chronic Disease Self-Management – Does it Work?”

The conference is open to the public. For registration information, see the Web site at http://oregonpublichealth.org/events.html

The OPHA conference is sponsored by OSU’s Department of Public Health, Northwest Health Foundation, Coalition of Local Health Officials, Oregon Masters in Public Health Program, PacificSource and Yakima Valley Farm Workers.