Joint National Conference on Health Disparities and National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program to returns October 27-29, 2021

After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Conference on Health Disparities (NCHD) and National Environmental Justice Conference (NEJC) and Training Program returns on a virtual basis.

The purpose of the joint conference will be to advance the concept of the “healthy community” in the context of a global pandemic, which has demonstrated (once again) the urgency in addressing health disparities, which remain prevalent among low-income, minority populations and other socially vulnerable populations.

Over 20 years ago, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) first suggested the unique relationship between human health, environmental quality, economic development and Environmental Justice in healthy communities. This concept, and the ongoing national dialogue it facilitated, served as the basis for a series of annual national conferences intended to identify and address issues pertinent to one of America’s foremost public health issues -- Health Disparities.

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of the scheduled joint 2020 NCHD and NEJC, it also illustrated the impact of health disparities on low-income, minority and underserved communities across the country. Black, Latino, Native Indian Tribes and Native Alaskans suffered disparate impacts from the virus and our nation’s disjointed response to it.

Now, as we face Year 2 of the pandemic with renewed optimism brought on by a safe and effective vaccine and federally funded recovery legislation, it’s time to identify both challenges and opportunities presented by COVID-19 in what we all hope will be a post-pandemic era.

We are hopeful that this is now the time when the knowledge we have shared in 12 previous NCHDs crosses the divide between words and action – between “lessons learned” and meaningful, fully funded public policy initiatives. We must find the collective will to assure health equity for all Americans. It’s time to prioritize, identify and assign the needed budgetary and human resources to address the issues we will discuss here. Only in this way may we achieve the kind of healthy communities envisioned by Congressman Clyburn and others.


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