Is Health Care a Human Right? The APHA and Chiropractic Shout "Yes" in Boston

By Rand Baird, DC, MPH, FICA, FICC

The 134th Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Public Health Association (APHA) was held Nov. 4-8, 2006, in historic Boston. The theme of this year's meeting, "Public Health and Human Rights," resonated in the city where so many of the rights enjoyed by modern Americans had their birthplace. The APHA declared that the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being and that health and well-being are nearly impossible to achieve when these rights are neglected or violated. The 13,200 leaders of public health and government who attended this largest annual public health gathering in the world agreed. More than 4,000 papers were presented and more than 675 exhibit booths filled the new Boston Convention and Exposition Center. Considerable attention was given at the meeting to human rights strategies to end violence; ethical issues in public health practice; the right to health; and post-Katrina issues in disaster preparedness. Hundreds more sessions dealt with a full range of other pressing public health concerns.

Two hundred or so years ago, Paul Revere rode the streets of Boston shouting a warning: "The British are coming, the British are coming!" Fortunately, the chiropractic profession and its roles in public health are now so well-established within the APHA that no one shouted the alarm, "The Chiros are coming, the Chiros are coming!" For we already were there and a recognized part of the team!

The keynote speakers at the Sunday, Nov. 5, opening general session were the well-known public health figures Paul E. Farmer, MD, PhD, and Rear Admiral Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH. Their shared presentation emphasized the theme of public health and human rights, social inequalities in health and the criticality of poverty as a factor in health. They were preceded on the dais by John Auerbach, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, Mayor Thomas Menino and APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD.

Typical of APHA annual meetings, most of the major leaders in government and health were present, including several state health commissioners; officials from the CDC, OSHA, NIOSH, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Department of Health and Human Services, WHO, PAHO, and HRSA; the former U.S. Surgeon General; various private institutes and voluntary agencies; several current and former state politicians and members of Congress; several college and university presidents, deans, program directors, and department heads; and other educators, authors, researchers and dignitaries. The closing general session late Wednesday afternoon focused on expanding health care coverage and the option of individual and employer mandates. John E. McDonough and Vincent DeMarco were the featured speakers.

The chiropractic profession was very well-represented at the APHA Annual Meeting. The American Chiropractic Association, the Association of Chiropractic Colleges, the World Federation of Chiropractic and the California Chiropractic Association all had formal representation at this year's gathering, while the following chiropractic colleges were formally represented:

  • Cleveland Chiropractic College of LA and KC;
  • Life University;
  • New York College of Chiropractic;
  • Northwestern University of Health Sciences;
  • Palmer College of Chiropractic;
  • Southern California University of Health Sciences; and
  • Western States College of Chiropractic.

The Chiropractic Health Care (CHC) Section chairperson for 2006, Dr. Andrew Isaacs, welcomed all and expressed his heartfelt gratitude for their efforts all year long. Dr. Isaacs also presided over an awards ceremony in which Dr. Kurt Hegetschweiler received the Distinguished Service Award and Mrs. Lori Byrd Spencer received a Special Recognition Award.

Program

The APHA program was multidisciplinary and multimedia. For the 22nd consecutive year, chiropractic was included among the 900 scientific and technical sessions, with 4,000 paper presentations covering more than 30 specialty areas of health care. This year, there were four program sessions dedicated exclusively to chiropractic topics, including some 22 paper presentations prepared by 55 authors.

Chiropractic Session Titles

  • #3016.0 Developing Policy and Defining Practice;
  • #3102.0 Public Health Education and Service in Chiropractic;
  • #3199.0 Status of Chiropractic Research; and
  • #3300.0 Increasing Research Potential in the Profession.

2007 CHC Section Officers

  • Chair: Elaine Cooperstein, DC
  • Chair-elect: Kurt Hegetschweiler, DC
  • Past-chair: Andrew Isaacs, DC
  • Secretary: Alisa Fairweather, MPH
  • Section Council: Mitchell Haas, DC, MA; John Pammer, Jr., DC, DACBR; Joseph Brimhall, DC; Maria Hondras, DC, MPH; Jonathon Todd Egan, DC, MPH; and Lori Byrd Spencer, BA.
  • Governing Council: Lisa Killinger, DC and Paul Dougherty, DC.
  • Committee Chairs: Awards: Gerald Stevens, DC, MS; Membership: Jonathon Egan, DC, MPH; Nominations: Andrew Isaacs, DC; Program: John Stites, DC, DACBR; Communications: John Pammer, Jr., DC, DACBR; Resolutions: Lisa Killinger, DC; Section Manual: Mitchell Haas, DC, MA; and Action Board Rep: Christine Choate, DC, PhD.

135th Annual Meeting − 2007

The 2007 Annual Meeting will be held in Washington, D.C., from Nov. 3-7, 2007. The theme of the meeting is "Politics, Policy, and Public Health."

The 2007 Call for Abstracts was announced by Dr. John Stites of Palmer Chiropractic College, with an absolute deadline for receipt of abstracts by Feb. 7, 2007. Abstract submissions must be submitted online via the Web site at www.apha.org. Paper presenters must be both members of APHA and register for the annual meeting.

Doctors of chiropractic are urged to join the APHA and participate by attending the annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in November 2007. APHA membership and participation helps assure chiropractic's rightful place in public health and in the American health care system. Membership information can be obtained from Dr. Jonathon Egan ( ) or on the APHA Web site.


Another Perspective: DC Mother and Daughter at APHA

By Lisa Killinger, DC, and Yasmeen Khan, chiropractic student

A Mother's Perspective

I was fortunate enough to be able to bring my daughter, Yasmeen, a new APHA student member, to this year's annual meeting in Boston. She has just finished her first year at chiropractic college, and I really wanted her to get the chance to attend an interprofessional conference with a focus on the health of our patients.

While I had told her it was a big conference, I think nothing she had seen in her short experience with chiropractic conferences could have prepared her, or anyone for that matter, for the sheer magnitude of the conference, attended by more than 13,000 public health professionals from all disciplines. Our cell phones became survival gear as we negotiated the exhibit hall, with more than 675 booths related to all aspects of health, health education and wellness!

I really was glad she was able to attend the Chiropractic Health Care Section's scientific sessions. It offered her a glimpse into the worlds of chiropractic education, research and clinical practice from all around the country. Together, we heard about chiropractic's new adventures in the Department of Defense, chiropractic care in indigent inner-city populations, and the latest research on chiropractic and its role in improving the health of our nation.

Attending the conference together allowed us to come back to our hotel room after a day of health presentations and discuss the implications of what we saw and heard from her perspective as a young, soon-to-be chiropractor and from my perspective as a long-time chiropractic educator and researcher. It struck me as we chatted that the chiropractic profession my daughter will graduate into in a couple of years is so much different than the profession I graduated into in 1983. It's even quite different than the profession I witnessed in 1995, when chiropractic first gained section statuswithin the APHA. It seems to me the doors have swung wide open, and the magnitude and variety of opportunities this generation of chiropractors have available is very great indeed. I'm very proud of what chiropractic has accomplished in integrating mainstream public health activities, and I'm also pretty proud that my daughter will be a second-generation chiropractor and a second-generation member of the APHA!

A Daughter's Perspective

When my mom offered to take me along with her to the APHA Annual Meeting, I was excited to see what this event that seemed to excite her so much every year was all about. I didn't know what to expect, but I did know I was getting a free trip to Boston, and I was ready!

When we first arrived, I could feel the energy immediately. All around us were health care providers, researchers and so many others gathered for the common goal of promoting public health and wellness, and the overall betterment of society that these initiatives bring.

I was so impressed by the sheer number of people involved. I felt like a child on Halloween, getting to walk among the hundreds of booths in the exposition hall, all the while being handed pens, research papers, samples, and, much to the chagrin of the dentists in attendance, candy galore!

It was so great to be around chiropractors who, rather than debating with each other or other professions, were collaborating and advancing the profession. I learned all about the latest endeavors many clinicians are undertaking in the field and the latest research to come out of our work. It was very exciting and motivating to be part of this conference, and what a joy it was to find myself among some of the most hard-working and high-achieving chiropractors in our wonderful profession!

I have been refreshed and have been able to go back to Palmer College inspired by what I saw and hopeful for the future of chiropractic. It's sometimes easy to forget the end result of all the studying and countless hours in the classroom, but I was reminded when I saw how exciting it is to bring chiropractic and its research to the world. I plan to be an APHA member from this day forward, and I hope more students will follow suit and enjoy all that it has to offer, as I have. I am so thankful for the experience and can't wait to go again next year! Washington, D.C., in 2007, here I come! Mom, you're footing the bill again, right? Mom?


Chiropractic students are urged to join the APHA, which provides its student members with full membership rights and benefits, but only charges one-third the dues that full members pay. For more details, visit www.apha.org.


Click here for previous articles by Rand Baird, DC, MPH, FICA, FICC.



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