July 23, 2014
The Virginia Department of Health is determined to raise the bar on public health in the Commonwealth.
To get the ball rolling health officials from around the state came together for an Excellence in State Public Health Law conference at the Darden School of Business. They looked at potential models and policies that could improve public health.
The State Health Commissioner says they focused on two important issues throughout the conference.
“We are looking at two important issues, one around food and one around physical activity as important issues but also as a template for trying to do a better job of figuring out what this process might look like,” says Marissa Levine, state health commissioner.
They also held breakout sessions during the day, brainstorming ideas and discussing topics like healthy food in vending machines and ways to educate children in school on healthy activities that they can take back home to their families.
“A big part of this program is to be sure that we only push towards law and other policy changes when it's really necessary and it will make a positive difference,” says Levine
First lady, Dorothy McAuliffe, also spoke during the conference and wants to put an end to hunger. For many kids in school the only meal they have during the day is the one they receive during school lunch, she wants to make sure students learn healthy eating.
The Secretary of Health and Human Resources for Virginia says someone's socioeconomic status also factors into their health.
“Poverty is clearly a leading indicator of poor health,” says William Hazel. “People don't live as long and they aren't as productive, so these are things that we need to address in the policy realm.”
“First and foremost today is about how you develop good policy related to public health.”
They hope to take the ideas discussed today to a national meeting coming up in D.C.
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