College of Public Health honored for community service

by Lisa Spellman, UNMC public relations | May 06, 2020

Image with caption: Public health student Na-Omi Hassane Dan Karami, in green T-shirt, interprets for a French speaking family at the Fall Refugee Health Fair held Nov. 2, 2019 at Benson High School. Na-Omi worked as a navigator during the health fair as part of the UNMC College of Public Health student-led Bridge to Care program, which is one of the many community service activities that led to the recognition by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.

Public health student Na-Omi Hassane Dan Karami, in green T-shirt, interprets for a French speaking family at the Fall Refugee Health Fair held Nov. 2, 2019 at Benson High School. Na-Omi worked as a navigator during the health fair as part of the UNMC College of Public Health student-led Bridge to Care program, which is one of the many community service activities that led to the recognition by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.

In recognition of its continuous efforts to promote equity and social justice in health and health care, the UNMC College of Public Health has been awarded the Harrison C. Spencer Award for Outstanding Community Service by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH).

"This award may have been presented to the College of Public Health, but it is really given in honor of the exceptional community organizations we have the pleasure of working with to address the health needs of all of our communities across the state," said UNMC College of Public Health Dean Ali Khan, M.D., M.P.H.

The UNMC College of Public Health is one of just two colleges of public health to receive the award. The other is the National Taiwan University College of Public Health.

"UNMC has strengthened partnerships with the clinical enterprise and with the state and local department of public health, in part through the creative use of community health needs assessment activities, including assessments of specific underserved populations," said Laura Magana, Ph.D., president and CEO of the ASPPH.

The ASPPH is a 501c3 membership organization located in Washington, D.C. The association's mission is to strengthen the capacity of members by advancing leadership, excellence and collaboration for academic public health. The association currently has 128 members, including 64 schools and 64 programs of public health in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, Lebanon, China and Grenada.

The award is named in honor of the late Harrison C. Spencer, M.D., the former president of ASPPH, who died in 2016 after heading the association for 16 years. This is the first time in the history of the award that there have been two awardees. The award comes with a plaque and $5,000 cash prize to be distributed to one or more community partners.

UNMC College of Public Health Associate Dean Brandon Grimm, Ph.D., praised the college's community partners.

"The College of Public Health is committed to building trusted, mutual beneficial relationships with our community and practice partners, and it is because of them that we were recognized for this award," Dr. Grimm said.

In announcing the award, officials with the ASPPH noted how UNMC College of Public Health's community engagements address disparities in health outcomes among Nebraskans:

  • through consistent community engagement, partnerships and advocacy;
  • by promoting translational research that is reducing disparities in health status and health care at the local, state, national, and global levels; and
  • by advancing UNMC's education initiatives in health disparities.

"This is a great recognition of not only our college, the university, but also our community partners who have been entrusting and working with us to promote health and health equity over the years," said Dejun Su, Ph.D., director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities in the UNMC College of Public Health.

"The dedication and compassion of the talented faculty, staff and students in the College of Public Health already are known to those of us at UNMC, and now, through this prestigious award from the ASPPH, those talents shine for all to see," said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

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