Baltimore City Health Commissioner Honored by University of Iowa College of Public Health with Hansen Award

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Michelle Mendes: Office: (410) 396-7286, Cell: (443) 862-0891
Mona Rock: Office: (443) 984-2623, Cell: (410) 375-7763

BALTIMORE, MD (April 19, 2017) — Today, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen was named the recipient of the Richard and Barbara Hansen Leadership Award and Distinguished Lectureship by the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Dr. Wen was selected as this year’s awardee in recognition of her leadership in improving well-being and reducing health disparities.

“Health and social justice are inextricably tied. Those of us in public health have a responsibility to advocate for well-being on behalf of those who do not have the privilege or power to do so,” Dr. Wen said. “We must go beyond improving health. Instead, we must specifically work to eliminate disparities and inequities that exist in our communities.”

The Hansen Leadership Award is presented annually to honor individuals who have made sustained contributions in the public health field. The award recognizes exemplary leadership, high ethical standards, and an enduring commitment to improving health on a national and international level.

Under Dr. Wen’s leadership, the Baltimore City Health Department has led the country in health innovations, including: B’More for Healthy Babies, a collective impact strategy resulting in a 38 percent reduction of infant mortality in just seven years; Vision for Baltimore, an initiative to provide glasses to Baltimore City students who needs them; and Safe Streets, a program to engage returning citizens and hospitals in treating gun violence as a contagious disease.

Facing an unprecedented number of people dying from opioid overdose, Dr. Wen issued a blanket prescription for the opioid antidote, naloxone, to all 620,000 residents of Baltimore. Since 2015, this program has saved more than 800 lives. Baltimore’s efforts to save lives has been highlighted by President Obama and the U.S. Surgeon General.

The 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.

The Hansen Leadership Award and Distinguished Lectureship was established in 2001 and its first recipient was Senator Tom Harkin. This annual award and lectureship honors persons who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in the public health field and brings them to the University of Iowa campus for interaction with students, faculty, and public health professionals.

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