Thursday, November 26, 2009

Washington, D.C., a perfect venue for NCE attendees involved in advocacy

The 2009 National Conference & Exhibition (NCE) in Washington, D.C., marked an especially exciting time for AAP members to become engaged in federal advocacy. Taking advantage of the conference being located in the nation’s capital during such a critical point in the health reform debate, AAP members converged on the Department of Federal Affairs’ health reform briefing room to learn about the issues, the progress on Capitol Hill and how to advocate for children’s needs to their elected officials.

Olson Huff, M.D., FAAP, chair of AAP Committee on Federal Government Affairs (COFGA), and fellow COFGA member Steve Berman, M.D., FAAP, each gave plenary presentations during the NCE on health reform for children and the importance of pediatricians as federal advocates. Dr. Huff also led a group of AAP members to Capitol Hill to promote the Academy’s priorities for children in health reform. Throughout the NCE, many attendees met with their members of Congress about the importance of addressing children’s unique needs in health reform.

Howard Koh, M.D., M.P.H., assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services, gave a plenary address on the challenges pediatricians and other health care workers face in managing 2009 H1N1 influenza, including administering vaccines. He also discussed pediatricians’ role in preventing obesity and exposure to tobacco and secondhand smoke.

NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. (left) receives the Excellence in Public Service Award from AAP Immediate Past President David T. Tayloe Jr., M.D., FAAP.

National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., received the AAP Excellence in Public Service Award, which is presented each year to a public employee or an elected official who has distinguished himself in service of children’s health and well-being. Dr. Collins is a world-renowned physician- geneticist whose groundbreaking research as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute has led to profound increases in understanding of the genetic basis of disease, especially for children.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also delivered a plenary address, urging pediatricians to consider the impact of violence and toxic stress in children’s lives and to be advocates in their communities to reduce all forms of interpersonal violence.

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