The Power of Advocacy
Communicate and advocate for the value of public health.
For people everywhere, public health is woven into everyday life. When we wash our hands, put on a seatbelt, enter a smoking-free space or take our children to be vaccinated, we benefit from progress made possible by public health researchers and professionals.
Yet these life-saving advancements — to name just a few — are not equally available to all people. Public health researchers and professionals who work on a host of issues such as reproductive health, gun policy, tobacco control, environmental health, refugee health, substance misuse and access to mental health services are often mired in controversy or locked out of funding. Misunderstanding or rejection of science jeopardizes our ability to study urgent public health problems and put evidence-informed solutions in place to protect health and redress injustices around the world. In other words, if people don’t trust the evidence we produce, the impact of our work is diminished.
We know the value not only of developing the scientific evidence, but of helping policymakers and the public make better decisions based on what we have learned.
Susan Krenn, BA
Executive Director, Center for Communication Programs
At the same time, we must recognize that publishing our work in the peer-reviewed literature alone will not save children from malnutrition or prevent the next death from a drug overdose. If we want demonstrable improvements in the public’s health, we must become better at telling the story of our successes (and failures) in a way that captures the interest and fervor of those who are positioned to make a difference: the public, our decision makers and those who support the important work we do. We must intervene in the larger political and social arena and more fully engage in advocacy that will lead to programs and policies that will protect the public’s health. Embracing open and meaningful civic engagement in our efforts at advocacy is critical in making social, cultural and legislative change possible.
We believe we can take steps to help the public and key decision-makers understand the importance of evidence-informed programs and policies, the value of prevention and what public health professionals do to make a difference for individuals and communities every day. With that understanding in place, we would be better able to advance established and new ideas about public health and implement solutions that impact populations, particularly those whose health is most at risk.
To change how the public and decision-makers think about the value of public health and be a leading voice in framing health as a human right, we will:
Find new and compelling ways to show how the science and practice of public health impacts lives every day.
Be an honest and nonpartisan broker of public health information and convene inclusive and open discourse about major public health issues that can inform our science and the translation of the science into programs and policy.
Boost our efforts to communicate the impact of our research and advocate for evidence-informed solutions that will make a difference.
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