Public health leaders from state and local health authorities ranging from Governor Joe Lombardo’s office, the Nevada Association of Counties and the states Council of Public Health accredited Schools of Public Health at the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas came together for the Nevada Public Health Association’s annual conference, hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno to discuss the future of public health in Nevada.
Muge Akpinar-Elci, School of Public Health Dean, hosted the meeting focusing on how governmental public health agencies and academic institutions can improve the health of communities statewide through greater alignment and collaboration.
“It is crucial we address our state public health policies and spread awareness of the importance public health plays in our everyday lives. If we all work together, we can transform our public health infrastructure and keep our communities safe for generations to come,” Akpinar-Elci said.
The COVID-19 pandemic tested public health systems in Nevada and across the nation to a degree not yet seen in this lifetime. This brought more attention to the public health field than ever before, and highlighted areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.
It also underscored the need to better communicate what public health is, why it is important, modernize data and information technology systems, enhance infrastructure and improve workforce development opportunities. These were all topics of discussion among public health leaders.
The first meeting established statewide conversations regarding how best to modernize Nevada’s public health system. It’s built on existing collaboration among various partners including the University’s School of Public Health and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ School of Public Health, establishing a $10,000 research grant for joint research projects among faculty at both institutions.
The foundation of these conversations reflects the same spirit of collaboration between both state universities – that we can do more collectively to improve the health of communities across the state than we can alone. In the words of our own President Brian Sandoval and President Keith Whitfield of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, “we’re better together!”