Upcoming APHA Webinar: Transportation and Public Health

Jun 12, 2012, 5:34 PM, Posted by

Susan Polon, American Public Health Association

The American Public Health Association (APHA) will host a free webinar series this summer on transportation and public health, focusing on key issues including active (non-motorized) transportation and how pediatricians can play critical roles in keeping their patients safe during transport and travel. The first webinar will be held on Wednesday June 13 from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm EST. Register for the webinars here.

NewPublicHealth spoke with Susan Polan, PhD, associate executive director of APHA, about the upcoming series.

NewPublicHealth: What is the focus of the webinars?

Susan Polan: They are designed to bring real-life, on the ground stories and the most current data on public health and transportation to both public health and transportation professionals. Our research around the country has shown that when a community focuses on these issues and creates an approach to transportation that is not based just on individual car, but is based on the big picture, you have more access for formerly under-served communities, and you’re on a step toward building healthier communities overall.

NPH: What’s your goal with the webinars?

Susan Polan: The goal is for participants to understand how to take some of the beginning steps toward necessary changes in transportation for communities. It's also for them to understand what some of the benefits, seen and unseen, might be. We’ll show data, challenges, obstacles and opportunities so that stakeholders who have an interest in making changes in their own communities are better prepared when they start the planning process.

NPH: The second webinar focuses on the role of pediatricians. Why pediatricians?

Susan Polan: Whenever doctors engage in something which is a little bit outside the normal “how are you feeling?” and “what treatment can we offer?” it does have an impact, and that's true for pediatricians probably most of all. And so, engaging those kinds of opinion leaders and opinion shapers in this debate is critical. This is about helping pediatricians engage in education and policy-making for transportation systems, to help make travel for children and teens, whether they’re the passengers or drivers, much safer. Twenty years ago there were a handful of doctors who were engaged in this and were leading the way, and we are hoping to move this towards the norm rather than the exception.

NPH: And the third webinar looks at health impact assessments (HIAs)?

Susan Polan: Yes, the focus of several health impact assessments recently has been on transportation initiatives, whether it be public transit or safe routes to school or a complete streets approach. The webinar leaders will talk about what we seen in the evaluation when these policies have been put forward, and what the HIAs have shown us are the best practices in potential areas of challenge can make a difference on transportation access inequity.

NPH: Is there a registration deadline for the webinars or can participants sign up until the last minute?

Susan Polan: Depending on where we are in terms of registration, participants can sign in until we no longer have room. And if people are not able to participate in the live webinar, they can access the webinars later on; they will be archived on the APHA site.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.