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2019 Pennsylvania Health Equity Summit

2019 Health Equity Summit

The 2019 Health Equity Summit was a Success!

The Day at a Glance

Health equity involves providing every person, regardless of location, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, the same opportunity to live their healthiest life and reach their full potential.

To "level the playing field," those with worse health and fewer resources need more efforts expended to improve their health and systemic barriers to be removed. Because of the scope of the problem, achieving health equity in Pennsylvania will require collaboration from leaders across sectors. The Pennsylvania Department of Health's 2019 Health Equity Summit was a major step forward in bringing together disparate human resources who, together, can begin helping Pennsylvania achieve Health Equity by 2030.

Summit Welcome

The summit was divided into two parts, with a morning session and an afternoon session. The morning session featured a welcome from Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, MD, who kicked off the Summit and introduced David Saunders, Director of the Office of Health Equity. Mr. Saunders outlined the departments "Health Equity by 2030" goals, framing the scale of our challenge and the scope of the day's discussions.

Keynote Presentation

The morning session also included the event's keynote speaker, Gabriel Kaplan, Ph.D., Chief of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Dr. Kaplan discussed the challenges public health professionals face when addressing health equity, as well as the historical roots of the problem. The keynote concluded by highlighting 10 key steps everyone can implement to achieve health equity.

State Agency Initiatives Panel

His presentation was followed by the State Agency Initiatives to Improve Health Equity Panel Discussion which wrapped up the morning session. The panel featured Dr. Levine as well as Teresa Miller, the Secretary of the Department of Human Services, and the Executive Deputy Secretary of the Department of Education, David Volkman.

Concurrent Sessions

The afternoon began with lunch and was followed by two rounds of concurrent sessions. These smaller presentations covered a variety of topics, from environmental justice to active transportation. Some notable take-aways from the eleven sessions were developments in precision medicine, solutions to tackling climate justice, and methods to better measure the underlying causes of health disparities - which was so popular we had to cap attendance.

Concurrent Session 1 Slides:Concurrent Session 2 Slides:

Environmental Justice: Solutions to Improve our Climate Now!

Innovative Approaches to Eliminate Hunger

Safe and Equitable Transportation: Road Safety and Crash Avoidance

Rural Health Equity: Don't Forget Us Out Here!

Active Transportation: Designed for More Biking and Walking

Healthcare Industry Efforts to Address Housing Determinants of Health

The Elephant in the Room: What can we do to Advance Health Equity for Maternal and Infant Mortality Disparities?

Self-Awareness and Triggers: Are you Aware of your Implicit Bias?

Fostering Trauma Informed Approaches to Improve Health

Action Planning Phase

Following the concurrent sessions, the Summit wrapped up with an action planning phase. Participants sorted themselves into groups based on the nine "Health Equity by 2030" goals. The groups then worked together to discuss strategies for meeting these goals.

Following the close of the summit, many participants stayed to participate in the networking reception, sponsored by Aetna Better Health!

Here are a few photos from the day!


The 2019 Pennsylvania Health Equity Summit Research Committee's selected all 20 abstracts that were submitted. These abstracts were shared with summit participants in November. View the abstracts.

What's Next?

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, Office of Health Equity will be identifying opportunities to convene summit attendees and other stakeholders across the state to elaborate on the 2020 Action Plans that were developed at the Health Equity Summit and identify ways to eliminate health disparities by 2030. More information to come in 2020.

In the meantime, check out the resources and opportunities to increase your health equity awareness and capacity!

Special Thanks to our Sponsors and Planning Partners

  • Aetna
  • UPMC
  • PHFA
  • Gateway Health
  • Jefferson
  • Loews Philadelphia Hotel
  • The Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity
  • Norman Weinstein, Esquire
  • All Youth Access, LLC
  • Latinoconnection
  • American Lung Association
  • Galfand Berger

Additional thanks to Wes Bernstein and 2 Slices Productions for the video recordings and Claudia Maguffee of Claudia Maguffee Photography for the photos of the 2019 Health Equity Summit.