Baltimore City Health Commissioner Honored by American Public Health Association for Local Health Innovation

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Dr. Leana Wen awarded Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize for Creative Local Public Health Work

BALTIMORE, Md. (September 28, 2016) – Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen was announced as a recipient of the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize for Creative Local Public Health Work, an annual award bestowed upon a local health officer in recognition of outstanding creative and innovative public health work. 

APHA officials named Dr. Wen as a 2016 awardee, citing her ongoing efforts to utilize public health as an instrument to catalyze citywide change and as powerful tool for social justice.

“It is an honor to be recognized along with esteemed public health leaders for doing the work that I love: supporting the health and wellbeing of Baltimore City’s residents. I am proud to work with my tremendous team at the Baltimore City Health Department and our dedicated partners across the city,” said Dr. Wen. “Health is intrinsically connected to all policies – housing, transportation, criminal justice, and more. Through public health, we can level the playing field of inequality and further Baltimore’s role as an innovative leader.”

Previous Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize winners include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden and former Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Peter Beilenson, who was the inaugural recipient of the award in 1996.

Under Dr. Wen’s leadership, the Baltimore City Health Department has launched one of the country’s most aggressive overdose prevention programs, which aims to transform Baltimore City into a model of recovery and resilience. Since last year, more than 15,000 individuals have been trained to save a life with the overdose prevention medication, naloxone. This medication has been used more than 400 times to save Baltimoreans experiencing an opioid overdose since 2015. These efforts were highlighted by President Obama earlier this year during a discussion around innovative efforts being implemented to address the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Baltimore City Health Department also recently announced the launch of “Healthy Baltimore 2020,” a new strategic blueprint for health and wellness in Baltimore City, which aims to reduce health disparities in Baltimore by half over the next ten years. The report underscores the agency’s commitment to applying the lens of race, equity and inclusion to each aspect of its work.

This year’s Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize was also awarded to Dr. Harold Goodman, retired director of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Office of Oral Health, due to his contributions to oral health in the state. Other APHA awardees this year include U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia for working to prevent gun violence and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, for drawing attention to elevated blood lead levels among residents of Flint, Michigan.

"Dr. Wen has made remarkable contributions to the field of public health through her recognition and use of public health as a social justice tool,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA and former secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. "We are honored by her commitment to the residents of Baltimore City, and encourage others across the country to learn from the Baltimore City Health Department’s bold and innovative approaches to public health."

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