Hundreds of APHA members and other public health professionals, students and advocates convened in Washington, D.C., yesterday to attend the APHA Policy Action Institute.

"The time is now to do something," said U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir as he detailed plans for a new U.S. effort to stop HIV transmission by 2030. "This is not a federal effort, this is not a state effort. This has to be a whole society effort." President Donald Trump announced the HIV plan the night before during his State of the Union address.

Nancy Pelosi at APHA lecternThe daylong Policy Action Institute featured remarks from such notable policymakers and leaders as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and former governor of Connecticut Dannel Malloy, who helped spearhead legislation to prevent gun violence following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

"We all agree we have a moral responsibility to future generations” to protect health, Pelsoi said, noting that climate change is a national security issue, a health issue and an economic issue.

Former congressman and longtime public health champion Henry Waxman urged audience members to get involved to spur meaningful change to improve health.

"Don't wait for government. We may have a long wait to get things done," Waxman said. "The groundwork can be set to educate the public and the groups here have a role to play in doing that, as well as pushing good public policy."

Other elected leaders and policy experts in the public and private sector explained how to put policy in action to improve community health through a dynamic program of keynote addresses, panel discussions and fireside chats.

In the face of continued attacks on science, former acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak stressed the importance of not giving up.

"Things aren’t looking so good right now," Lushniak said at the conclusion of the Policy Action Institute. "There’s a resistance to science. But we need you! We need you in the system, we need competent people continuing to do the work. That’s how it gets done."

The institute built on the AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference as an additional day of discussions with a sharp focus on public health policy. APHA plans to host another institute in Washington, D.C., next year.

The 2019 Policy Action Institute was sponsored by the de Beaumont Foundation, Aetna Foundation and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, and was spotlighted on social media with the hashtag #SpeakForHealth.

Brett Giroir

Adm. Brett Giroir, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health, rolls out a new plan for stopping the spread of HIV
transmission by 2030. Photo courtesy Joe Center

Henry Waxman listens to Joshua Sharfstein

Legendary policymaker Henry Waxman, left, discusses lessons about advancing legislative solutions during his decades in Congress with Josh Sharfstein, vice dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Photo courtesy Joe Center

Ron Nirenberg, mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and Colleen Bridger, director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, discuss using policy as a tool for improving community health with Catherine Patterson, right, of the de Beaumont Foundation. Photo courtesy Joe Center

APHA members enjoy the action during the daylong APHA Policy Action Institute in Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2019. Photo courtesy Joe Center