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About the Event

In recent years, Philadelphia has gained global influence because of its healthcare institutions, high-quality universities, and business infrastructure. Philadelphia has a long and strong legacy as a global, welcoming city, with a vibrant and diverse community. Since a fourth of Philadelphians are immigrants or first-generation, finding treatments and approaches that are tailored to cultural backgrounds is an important piece of whole person health care.

How can Philadelphia become a leader in health equity among residents of many backgrounds, and ensure that people are treated with an eye toward culturally sensitive whole person health? What can we learn from other countries, or what can we share that we do well?

At B.PHL Innovation Fest, the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia explored what organizations, providers, payers, and others are doing to treat the whole person – both in Philadelphia and around the world – and how social determinants impact health.

During the moderated discussion Dr. Franklin spoke about how advancing health equity must be based upon treating the differing problems of each generation and group. Statistics are an important part of diagnosing those problems, but connecting with communities is equally important. Gladys Antelo-Allen addressed the need for health organizations to build a relationship with individuals and communities so that they are comfortable sharing information and giving a voice to their specific needs. Personal connections allow providers to discover what needs aren’t being met by the various organizations with which patients interact and find ways to meet those needs.

Dr. Ross highlighted the statistic that the largest factors in health outcomes are people’s surroundings: where they live, work, play, pray, and socialize. Only a small percentage of outcomes are determined by a person’s interaction in a doctor’s office. Therefore, health equity largely depends upon implementing programs that change people’s environments, but this again comes back to community engagement and ensuring changes meet their expressed desires and needs.

Dr. Ononye-Onyia spoke about the need for individuals to volunteer their personal time and effort to bring about change. She observed from her experiences in Nigeria that change requires breaking conceptual barriers, since people won’t change if they don’t know it is possible. Dr. Ononye-Onyia also addressed the importance of testing medicines on people of all different backgrounds because it provides a more accurate sample representative of the population the medicine will treat.

During the Q&A session, audience members asked the city’s response to the Monkeypox outbreak and the disparity between the numbers of black people affected versus how many have received vaccinations. Dr. Franklin responded that the city had some missteps in its messaging at the beginning of the outbreak and that the city’s medical infrastructure remains below the level it needs to reach. He said that the city is in conversation with civil rights leaders about ways to address the problem. Gladys Antelo-Allen added that her organization has observed that providers and patients are not comfortable discussing the treatment of Monkeypox. An effective campaign of treatment requires publicizing solutions and dispel myths about vaccination.

About the Moderator

  • Barbara Williams-Page, DO, Department of Family Medicine, Associate Professor, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

About the Speakers

  • Gladys Antelo-Allen, LPN, Senior Program Manager, Field Building & Resources, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers
  • Frank Franklin, PhD, JD, MPH, Deputy Health Commissioner, City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Sophia Ononye-Onyia, PhD, MPH, MBA, NACD.DC, Founder and CEO, The Sophia Consulting Firm
  • Seun O. Ross, PhD, Executive Director of Health Equity, Independence Blue Cross

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