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New APHA forums to promote collaboration among Sections.

APHA members who wish to work together on specific public health issues that extend beyond Section or Special Primary Interest Group boundaries are now able to create and join interdisciplinary forums.

Forums, approved by APHA's Governing Council in December 2005, provide opportunities for Sections and SPIGs to formally organize around a topic that cannot be adequately addressed through one Section or SPIG working independently. Forums increase communication between Sections and SPIGs, enabling members to share and learn concepts or views from different perspectives, said Fran Atkinson, MSM, APHA's director of component affairs.

"Forums fill the need for an entity that allows Sections and SPIGs to collaborate under specific cross-sectional issues," Atkinson said. "With forums, Section members will no longer feel they are working in separate silos."

A formal application process exists for Sections or SPIGs interested in creating forums. The process requires that at least 75 members of existing Sections or SPIGs indicate their intent to join the proposed forum. At least two Sections must co-sponsor the forum, which must address an interdisciplinary topic that is important to public health, supports APHA's mission and requires expertise that may reside in more than one Section or SPIG.

In addition, the Intersectional Council Steering Committee requires that forum proposals be accompanied by letters of support from at least two existing Section chairs. The letters must indicate ways the proposed forum will interact with each Section, and how those interactions will enhance Section performance. The ISC Steering Committee will study each proposal and forward the complete proposal package to the APHA Executive Board for final approval. The cross-collaborative groups are not intended to evolve into Sections and will exist for a period of three years, after which the forum may petition for an extension.

Right now, the Steering Committee is reviewing proposals and applications for the creation of the first two such forums, one addressing family violence and the other global trade.

More than 200 people representing at least 20 Sections and SPIGs have signed up for the proposed family violence forum, which is being co-sponsored by the Injury Control and Emergency Health Services Section and Maternal and Child Health Section.

The family violence forum is attracting much interest because the issues cut across APHA Sections, said Michael Durfee, MD, the effort's chief coordinator. Durfee said such a forum will connect the world of public health to the world of family violence prevention.

"The world is shifting and public health is shifting," Durfee told The Nation's Health. "Public health is an incredible resource for people who are addressing large social problems."

For a variety of reasons, public health has historically been "very ambivalent" about addressing family violence, said Durfee, a longtime public health worker focusing on child abuse. He noted that child abuse was not indexed in medical literature until 1965, and very little--"almost nothing"--was published about it until the early '70s. Now, Durfee said, "there is a small but growing level of activity in public health with child abuse, and by the time you add sibling violence and elder abuse and international issues, it just really needs a boost to get some attention."

Meanwhile, two Sections have submitted letters supporting the formation of a global trade forum, which is an outgrowth of a cross-sectional APHA trade group formed several years ago. A letter of support from Medical Care Section Chair Gordon Schiff, MD, said that the Section is very concerned about the adverse impact of trade agreements on population health in countries throughout the Americas.

"The continuing growth of bilateral, regional and global trade agreements is of great concern because they foster and enforce the 'race to the bottom' in wages, working standards, access to medical care and public health protections around the globe," Schiff wrote.

Similarly, International Health Section Chair Samir Banoob, MD, in a letter supporting formation of a global trade forum, noted that the impact of trade regulations on health is one of today's most pressing international health issues.

"To be successful in that effort, the various Sections need to collaborate with each other and with APHA," Banoob wrote.

Kristen D. Smith, MPH, senior fellow at the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health in San Diego and one of the coordinators of the effort to create a global trade forum, told The Nation's Health that there is a widespread interest regarding the adverse impacts of international trade agreements, such as the North American Free

Trade Agreement, on public health, both internationally and in the United States. "Trade agreements impact areas across the disciplines of APHA, including access to health care, tobacco and alcohol control, environmental health, occupational safety and professional licensing standards," Smith said. "Because of the widespread impact, and because the impact is both domestic and international, a multi-Section approach is essential to both understand and address these issues."

For more information about the forums, call (202) 777-2483 or e-mail <frances.atkinson@apha.org>.
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Title Annotation:The SECTIONS: News about APHA's Sections, Special Primary Interest Groups & Caucuses; American Public Health Association
Author:Johnson, Teddi Dineley
Publication:The Nation's Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2007
Words:820
Previous Article:Child health varies by metropolitan area.
Next Article:More Sections conducting surveys on member needs.
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