We Need Everyone At the Table

    • April 19, 2010

Community partnerships are vital for an effective public health system, according to Judith Monroe, M.D., former Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, and now deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s the message driving the latest “Public Health in Action” video produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Public health needs to lead,” says Monroe. “We need to give technical assistance. We need to have meaningful data and the right data points to make good decisions. But then we need to share what the practice needs to look like.”

As Indiana’s state health director, Monroe formed partnerships with businesses, universities, schools and faith-based groups. These partnerships have led to changes—such as increasing the state’s tobacco tax, convincing more people to exercise regularly, and making healthy foods more easily available to consumers—that will make it easier for people across Indiana to live longer, healthier lives.

The video profiles Monroe’s work in Indiana and highlights many of the successful community partnerships she helped foster.

Highlights include:

  • A small insurance firm that encourage its employees to exercise during the day. Gregory & Appel used tax credits to build an office gym and offers incentives to employees who hit particular exercise goals.
  • Kids with the Project 18 program touring a Marsh supermarket, learning about the importance of eating healthy foods and staying active. The program is Peyton Manning’s initiative to combat childhood obesity.
  • A quality improvement expert from Purdue University teaching Boone County community leaders how to assess and improve public health.

After five years as Indiana’s health director, Monroe is now in charge of the CDC’s new Office for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support. The Indiana projects continue under her successor.

As she begins her new challenge, Monroe says she believes now—more than ever—that community partnerships are the key to improving the health of all Americans.

“There’s no one that should not be at the table,” says Monroe. “It’s got to be the entire system to make a difference.”