Mobile’s Journey to Promote Health, Well-Being, and Equity
Five years into the Sentinel Communities Surveillance Project, limited community capacity to focus on health and health equity outside of the health sector has created challenges in Mobile’s ability to make strides in advocating for public health policies and programs.
Despite a growing number of cross-collaboration between institutions, difficulties remain in bringing various groups together. Ongoing initiatives focus on addressing well-being while some new initiatives focus specifically on health. Regarding the health narrative in Mobile, the limited community capacity and relatively limited motivation to address issues related to health equity are reflected in the city’s lack of set priorities around health and well-being. Recent walkability and improvements in the built environment have been key focus areas. However, there are challenges in having clear leadership and community-wide consensus on the establishment of a fuller set of health priorities going forward. In terms of health equity, Mobile’s approach has been progressing slowly over the past five years, mostly through the nonprofit and academic sectors. More effort is needed to center health equity policy in city government.
Health Priorities and Narrative
Some healthcare organizations, which are long-standing community leaders, continue to play a crucial role in the provision of health services, especially to vulnerable populations.
Educational anchor institutions collaborate to address gaps in educational attainment in Mobile County Public Schools and local colleges and universities.
There are several grassroots initiatives that are expanding conversations about equity and diversity.
Stakeholders, particularly those in community-based organizations, have begun to implement holistic approaches to health and well-being.
Health Priorities and Narrative
There are few new cross-sector collaborations forming to address health issues.
Aided by the renovations to the built environment and the new level of walkability, local walking groups formed during the pandemic.
Mental health and housing have emerged as priority issues for Mobile residents.
An Equity Task Force was established in 2020 to provide recommendations about use of force by the police department to aid the implementation of implicit-bias training across all city departments, and to conduct a review of city policies for racial or biased language.
Lessons Learned: Where is Mobile Five Years Later?
Mobile’s journey to promote health, well-being, and equity underscores how difficult it is to move political will and policy changes in a community, requiring consistent focus on health objectives and coordinated efforts among government and nonprofit, academic, and other sectors. The new conversations that are happening on equity among pockets of Mobile community leaders along with the potential to link disaster resilience to health offers a window of opportunity to accelerate local health actions. Other communities can learn from Mobile’s approaches on this health and disaster linkage, as well as the challenges Mobile has encountered, to inform their own journeys. Future research could consider whether this new momentum around discussions of health equity translates to sustained government action and investment across Mobile.
Mobile continues to capitalize on various facilitators and has become increasingly resilient. There are some partnerships and efforts that are facilitating health progress in the city, but significant barriers remain with respect to health promotion and healthcare access, as well as other social issues.
Established partnerships and collaborations
External funding to address health equity
Nonprofit and community-based organization leaders focusing on equity
Increased focus on disaster resilience
Public health leaders stuck in traditional health promotion efforts
Minimal support for policies to improve healthcare access
Data access issues
Social inequality issues outside of health
Politics and culture inhibit equity discussions and funding
Lack of community voice and trust in government