The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust announced the creation of the Puerto Rico Public Health Trust to work in partnership with multiple sectors including governmental agencies, communities, the health care delivery system, businesses, media and academia.
The Science Trust was designated by the Puerto Rico Legislature as the Puerto Rico Public Health Institute in 2017.
The Health Trust has been set up as a program powered by the Science Trust; and its mission, vision and objectives were developed with a group of collaborators, including the participation of local communities, the Puerto Rico Department of Health, the Graduate School of Public Health of the University of Puerto Rico-Medical Science Campus, the School of Public Health of Ponce Health Sciences University and Central Caribbean University; the Association of Primary Health, the Association of Hospitals and various other partners and businesses, such as Impactivo Consulting and FDI Clinical Research.
“The mission of the Health Trust is to serve as a trusted ally working with partners in the public and private sector to identify and implement evidence-based and community-led solutions,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.
“We aim to have an immediate and sustainable impact in the public health sector. In keeping with the efforts of our collaborators, the Health Trust endeavors to make a change and to create a positive and significant impact on the public’s health through its agility, capacity and commitment,” she said.
The Puerto Rico Public Health Trust will have “a strong community focus,” said José F. Rodríguez-Orengo, acting executive director.
“The Health Trust’s vision is to achieve sustainable health and equity for the Puerto Rican communities and to improve the quality of life through innovation, collaboration and community engagement,” he said.
The priorities will include efforts to improve the public health systems and its results promoting innovation, maximizing resources and creating alliances to improve the public health including: Emergency preparedness, recovery and response, chronic disease: diabetes, obesity, etc., health equity, climate change, mental health and the opioid epidemic among others.
The Health Trust plans to carry out activities and programs for the health of the population, and since 2018, it has already established four main initiatives to spearhead its work in Puerto Rico:
· Hurricane Response Hub Technical Assistance Center (HRHTAC) – To provide training and technical assistance to Health Departments, Emergency Management, and Community-Based Organizations in the Caribbean. Health Trust is one of five regional technical assistance centers for the Hurricane Response Hub (HRH) initiative, led by the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI). Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this national program is designed to enhance disaster-related surveillance and environmental and occupational health recovery efforts in areas impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and María by building disaster-related public health workforce capacity.
· Caribbean Strong – Under the slogan of Building Resilience with Equity, Caribbean Strong was the first post Maria resilience summit held at the Sheraton Hotel of the Convention Center from Feb. 27 to Mar. 1, 2019. It focused on the lessons learned after the two devastating hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Region in 2017.
· Capacity Building for Jurisdictional Hurricane Recovery – Puerto Rico Staffing Capacity Enhancements- Supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Puerto Rico Department of Health in the shared work of rebuilding Puerto Rico’s public health infrastructure and capacity.
· Community Engagement — To enable leaders in all fields and areas of work in the community, such as churches, schools, businesses, academic institutions and municipalities, to challenge systems, tackle the root causes of health inequities, and build healthier communities in Puerto Rico.
The Health Trust has assembled a five-member advisory committee with U.S. and Puerto Rico public health experts to guide the process of establishing its governance and administrative structures.
As part of its launch during National Public Health Week, the Health Trust will celebrate its first community event with the Caño Martin Peña community on April 5th with a health fair that includes dental checkups, immunizations, water filter information and distribution, among others.