The impact of public health on the development of communities in Central Florida is undeniable. From the creation of municipal public health authorities in the 19th century to the current efforts to promote health equity and reduce health disparities, public health has been a driving force in the region's growth.
AdventHealthand other members of the Collaborative have used data to develop strategies that improve residents' health through specific community health plans. The significant variation in the way in which health departments make decisions and in the resources available to provide services to their communities have contributed to achieving heterogeneous outcomes before and during the pandemic.
Addressing the public health needs of local communities by providing support in state and local public health settings and promoting more equitable health outcomes for underserved communities is essential. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed and aggravated these long-standing challenges, while highlighting widespread racial and socioeconomic inequalities in access, quality, and outcomes of health care in the United States. In order to ensure that tragedies of the present become a turning point for the future, it is essential that the United States is able to protect and promote the health of all people in all communities against the health challenges of the 21st century population. Health systems and other organizations that provide health services are natural partners in this regard, given their role as community pillars and the shift towards mandates and agreements to finance the population's health, as demonstrated by the ongoing demonstrations in favor of responsible health communities.
The Office of Health Equity, located in the Office of Community Health, has made it a priority to achieve the highest standard of health for all people in Orange County, paying special attention to those who have experienced socioeconomic disadvantages and historical injustices, including vulnerable communities and culturally, linguistically and geographically isolated communities. The Central Florida Men's Health Initiative has also been established with a mission statement to “promote and inspire a culture of health and health equity for all men and boys in Central Florida through stakeholders, initiatives and measurable behavioral changes, and community collaboration”. Investments in technical capabilities can also help health departments in their efforts to better identify health disparities and address the root causes of these disparities. However, it is clear that the system, as currently configured, with its origins in a different era with different population health challenges, is not optimally designed to meet the needs of communities in the United States in the 21st century.
For example, municipal public health authorities created during this period supported improvements in sanitation and reduced mortality from infectious diseases such as typhoid fever and cholera. The application of racially biased compliance policies, together with broader conversations about police brutality following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the midst of the pandemic, may deepen historic distrust of the health system within communities of color. The systemic scarcity of resources for American public health, together with governance challenges described above, created preconditions for challenges during this pandemic era. It is essential that public health initiatives are implemented across Central Florida to ensure that all individuals have access to quality healthcare services regardless of their race or socioeconomic status.
This can be achieved through investments in technical capabilities that can help identify disparities between different populations as well as through initiatives such as those provided by AdventHealth or other members of Collaborative that focus on improving community health plans. Furthermore, it is important that local governments work together with state governments to ensure that unified decision-making is achieved when it comes to providing resources for public health services.