When talking about the impacts of racism on health, APHA President Joseph Telfair says the conversation has to begin by acknowledging a particular truth. Racism, he says, is a “historical fact — a reality that we live in.”

In fact, Telfair, DrPH, MPH, MSW, a professor at Georgia Southern University, told APHA TV that many of the health inequities we face today grow out of lack of understanding about how society works. In other words, while “equality” means that everyone has a chance to take advantage of opportunity, “inequity” acknowledges unequal access to very systems and institutions that create such opportunity, he said.

Telfair, who assumed the office of Association president at the close of the 2017 APHA Annual Meeting, spoke to APHA TV during the five-day meeting in Atlanta. He was one of a number of public health leaders and professionals who sat down for exclusive, one-on-one interviews with APHA TV, episodes from which are still up and available for view. Interviewees included U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, local and federal health officials, and some of the most prominent voices on climate change and health. Many APHA TV interviews focused on ways to improve the nation’s health — with a nod toward APHA’s goal of creating the healthiest nation in one generation — as did Telfair’s.

He called on health officials and advocates to examine successful health-promoting models abroad — from countries in Europe that invest heavily in social assistance to nations in Africa and South Asia, where grassroots efforts are taking on entrenched inequities.

“We have multiple models at all levels and one of the things we do in public health is we actually have a means to do that,” Telfair told APHA TV.

Visit APHA TV to watch Telfair’s full remarks as well as all the episodes from Atlanta.

For more video from APHA 2017, register for APHA Live. APHA Live includes on-demand, online access to 13 of the top sessions from the APHA Annual Meeting and the opportunity to earn more than 16 free continuing education credits. For even more educational programming from APHA 2017, consider RAMP, which includes synced PowerPoint presentations and voice recording of scientific sessions from the Atlanta meeting.