HEALTH: A Call to Action
The HEALTH Research Institute brought together health professionals, scientists, community leaders, policy makers, stakeholders and others from around Texas for the inaugural HEALTH: A Call to Action conference. The overall goals of the conference included:
- Disseminating best practices for preventing and treating chronic diseases in diverse community settings
- Fostering intellectual incubators to generate novel solutions to current health challenges
- Building sustainable partnerships and resources that coordinate activities aimed at achieving health equity
HEALTH: A Call to Action
The University of Houston HEALTH Research Institute (HRI) held its inaugural HEALTH: A Call to Action conference on January 30-31, 2020. The conference was a success overall, with over 100 attendees. It included a pre-conference workshop, breakout sessions, student research posters presentation, panel sessions and vendor booths.
The conference was wonderful! I definitely feel that I connected with good potential collaborators (and employers!) while also learning from their first hand experiences. I liked the less traditional approach, i.e. how most presenters focused on experience rather than theory, and made it applicable.
The pre-conference activity was helpful and it prompted me to consider it for my organization.
During the pre-conference, attendees participated in an interactive workshop entitled: Developing Best Practices for Training Community Leaders to Advance Health Equity Initiatives. The goal of the workshop was to identify the barriers and find. potential solutions to developing and training community leaders to collaborate in equitable academic/community partnerships. These cooperative relationships are aimed at advancing health equity initiatives on the basis of community-oriented research methods.
Conference Breakout Sessions/Panel Summaries
HEALTH: A Call to Action hosted nine, one-hour breakout sessions including a wide range of health equity topics, such as the use of mobile clinics to provide care in underserved communities; addressing health disparities in specialty care settings; and using social determinants of health to implement an HIV/teen pregnancy prevention program. Two panel sessions at the end of the conference focused on community health needs and conducting health equity work, and collaboration across communities and utilizing health coalitions to create meaningful impact.
Areas of Focus
Thematic areas of health equity focus on prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship of:
- Cancer, including screening, early detection, novel treatments and survivorship
- Diabetes, with a focus on racial/ethnic disparities and prevention
- Mental Health, including disparities in treatment and access to care, and comorbid disorders
- Obesity, including prevention, nutrition and physical activity
- Substance Use, specifically disparities in substance use disorders and treatment
Dr. Ezemenari Obasi, Founder and Director of the HEALTH Research Institute, leading the pre-conference workshop.
University of Houston/MD Anderson Cancer Center (UHAND) program mentees presenting their research during the student poster session.
HEALTH: A Call to Action conference attendees.
Dr. Ezemenari Obasi, Founder and Director of the HEALTH Research Institute, and Dr. Lorraine Reitzel, co-Founder and co-Director of the HEALTH Research Institute, participating in the post-conference debrief session.
HEALTH Research Institute affiliate Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernandez (far left) and community health representatives participating on the panel discussion Uncovering needs in local communities while conducting health equity work and finding collaborative solutions.
Dr. Lorraine Reitzel, co-Founder and co-Director of the HEALTH Research Institute, introducing Keynote Speaker Dr. Salil Deshpande, Chief Medical Officer of the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas.
HEALTH Research Institute staff and pre-conference event attendees collaborating on the workshop group activity.
HEALTH Research Institute Founders/Directors and staff at the pre-conference event.
Former HEALTH Research Institute mentee Dr. Daphne Hernandez (far left) and representatives from local health coalitions participating on the panel discussion "Collaborative work across communities and how to create the most meaningful impact through coalitions."
Dr. Lorraine Reitzel, co-Founder and co-Director of the HEALTH Research Institute, discussing the Taking Texas Tobacco Free (TTTF) and University of Houston/MD Anderson Cancer Center (UHAND) programs with conference attendees.
Imarogbe Stokes, HEALTH Research Institute Community Liaison, representing the Treating Obesity in Underserved Communities in Houston (TOUCH) program vendor booth.
University of Houston/MD Anderson Cancer Center (UHAND) program undergraduate mentee Shreya Desai presenting her research during the student poster session.
Reasons Guests Attend
This conference is a great opportunity for:
- Academics to foster collaborative relationships with community decision makers.
- Community Leaders and Service Providers to participate in progressive and unfiltered conversations with policy makers, researchers, community members and public health professionals.
- Students to learn about the current health issues affecting our community and find ways to get involved.