UNT Health Science Center celebrates National Public Health Week with varied student and community activities

Posted Date: March 25, 2010

During National Public Health Week 2010, the University of North Texas Health Science Center’s School of Public Health (SPH), Fort Worth, Texas, plans a number of student activities, a student-organized community health fair, and the third annual, community-wide North Texas Health Forum, focusing this year on the important issue of infant mortality.

Infant mortality has long been recognized as a significant problem in areas of Tarrant County, Texas.  In Tarrant County, more babies die each year than in almost any other county in the United States.  According to the Fort Worth, Texas, Commission for Women, researchers believe that birth outcomes are a culmination of women’s health throughout their lives, and by improving women’s health overall, we can lower infant mortality in Fort Worth and beyond.  Some of the critical elements highlighted by experts in the battle against infant mortality include education, nutrition, stress reduction and preconception health.

These are among the key issues to be presented at the April 8-9, 2010, North Texas Health Forum, to be held at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center and sponsored by the UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health.

This free community event, titled “Reducing Infant Mortality in Tarrant County:  It’s Time for Action,” will feature both national speakers and local panelists in its exploration of the root causes of infant mortality in the community, joining a wide variety of community members together to design workable solutions for change.

Attendees will explore a Life Course model for change that has been successful in other areas of the United States and has great potential for Tarrant County residents.  The Life Course Theory, or perspective, uses an approach developed in the 1960s for analyzing people’s lives from birth through adulthood, to understand how early events and influences affect health and other issues, in this case, the occurrence of infant mortality among certain communities and populations.

The Forum will feature keynote speaker Audra D. Robertson, MD, MPH, instructor for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.  Since 2008, she has also served as Clinical and Research Director for The Birth Equity Initiative, a program to eliminate racial disparities in infant mortality through the Center for Community Health and Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s.  The goal of this initiative is to design and implement a collaborative, clinical-based, and community-based intervention program to address these disparities in the Boston area.

Tamara Wrenn, MA, CCE, CIMT, will also be featured as a guest speaker.  A senior consultant for Practice Matters Consulting Firm and founder and executive director of Just Us Women Productions, LLC and All Things Birth, she is nationally known for her experience in the practical application of the Life Course Theory as it relates to reducing racial/ethnic disparities in infant mortality and improving women’s health.  Wrenn has consulted with communities including Boston, southeastern Wisconsin, Memphis and Harlem to help find solutions to this critical public health issue.

Following the April 8 keynote address, attendees will meet in a half-day April 9 action session, led by local panelists and roundtable leaders currently working to reduce infant mortality in Tarrant County.

Additionally, a Student Session will be held on campus the afternoon of April 8, to give students an informal opportunity for learning, questions and conversation with the two guest speakers prior to the keynote lecture.

The school’s Public Health Student Association will also offer other activities during the week to engage students, faculty, staff and the Fort Worth community in National Public Health Week.

Students have organized a diverse spectrum of events to bring about awareness and promote public health concepts to the community.  The UNT Health Science Center’s Public Health Week outreach kickoff event will send SPH students to two area high schools to promote awareness about public health and inspire potential students to pursue public health careers.

A health and wellness fair is also planned, to serve as a forum to connect and educate the UNTHSC campus and local community regarding the impact of public health. The fair is also planned to build relationships between the local public health networks, health promotion organizations and the Fort Worth community.

During the week, students will also host a movie screening of “Thank You for Smoking,” to promote this public health issue.

Additionally, the Public Health Student Association will host a cookout to celebrate public health and promote camaraderie throughout the university and community.

To conclude Public Health Week, students will participate in a volunteer event at the local African-American Health Exposition, to educate community members and introduce them to a collaborative health care model linking the individual to providers, public health officials and community resources.

Students at the UNT Health Science Center’s School of Public Health take pride in participating and promoting this year’s National Public Health Week.

For more information on the North Texas Health Forum’s infant mortality conference and/or to register for the event, please visit http://www.registerwithunt.com/.