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Guest Blog: 2020, The Perfect Storm for a Focus on Health




Sara Allin,
Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto



Alison Jacknowitz,
Senior Associate Dean & Professor, School of Public Affairs, American University


Co-Hosts of the 2020 APPAM International Conference

The current Coronavirus outbreak is testing the limits of coordinated global public health responses and efforts to contain public misinformation. Destructive bushfires in Australia are the latest signal of the climate crisis. Lax regulation on e-cigarettes have contributed to a new generation of young people addicted to nicotine. Racial and socioeconomic inequities in social and health outcomes continue to widen. The opioid crisis requires action across all of government.  Chronic diseases, including mental health and substance use, are responsible for the vast majority of health care resources, and as populations continue to age there is an urgent need to address leading risk factors by changing behaviours. Behaviour changes such as with healthy eating, physical activity, reduced substance use, are also essential to turning around on climate change – this goes well beyond health education (and telling people how to behave) to changing housing, transportation, education, urban planning, food production and packaging, how clothing is made, and all the basics of life. 

These are just some of the many reasons why 2020 is ideal time to bring together leading scholars and practitioners in public policy to tackle complex and urgent global population challenges. This international conference, held in Toronto - one of the most diverse cities in the world, will provide a forum for measuring, understanding and debating the intended and unintended effects of public policies on the health and well-being of populations.  The concept of Health In All Policies has been embraced by WHO and member states as an approach to systematically measure and account for health and equity implications public policies. The wide range of perspectives, disciplines and jurisdictions is critical to inform the type of cross-sectoral policy action and evaluation needed to address these pressing challenges.

Submissions for the 2020 APPAM International Conference in Toronto close Friday, February 14.

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