Medical and public health professionals must partner more effectively with law enforcement, public officials, the business community, the faith community and others to make headway in the national opioid crisis, and other pressing health issues. Those partnerships should take shape not in a prescriptive way from health experts, but rather one that evolves from mutual understanding and common goals.
That was the key message brought to Michigan by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., during a daylong visit to the U-M campus organized by IHPI.
Adams, appointed in September 2017 as the 20th Surgeon General and formerly director of Indiana's state health department, was invited to campus to give the fourth annual IHPI Director's Lecture.
His appearance included a 'fireside chat' with IHPI director John Z. Ayanian, M.D., M.P.P., as well as a panel discussion with leading U-M opioid researchers Chad Brummett, M.D., and Rebecca Cunningham, M.D., and Detroit Health Department director Joneigh Khaldun, M.D., M.P.H.
Hundreds of people filled the Robertson Auditorium at the Ross School of Business building, and hundreds more watched a live webstream, to hear him. Adams even took a "selfie" photo with the crowd and noted that he was rooting for the U-M men's basketball team in their March Madness game that evening.
The event concluded with a moving performance by two students from the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, who wrote songs inspired by people affected by the opioid crisis.
Despite a snowstorm that crippled Washington, D.C., and led to a late-night arrival, Adams engaged with dozens of U-M faculty, business community leaders, and students in sessions leading up to the public talk.
In each one, he spoke of the importance of partnerships that work to achieve better health by addressing social factors such as housing, transportation and poverty, as well as specific health risk factors and types of care.
He expressed admiration for the Michigan Opioid Prescribing and Engagement Network co-founded by Brummett -- his medical school classmate -- and for the work of members of the U-M Injury Prevention Center led by Cunningham.
Adams spoke of his goal to prepare a Surgeon General's Report on the intersection between economic factors and health, to bring attention to the growing understanding that the business sector needs healthier workers, and that the health of individuals is deeply intertwined with the economic status of their family and their communities.
He asked those who attended to send him ideas and input on what to consider as he prepares to use his office's public visibility to draw attention to this issue.
During his visit the Surgeon General spoke of key aspects of the federal government's recently unveiled effort to combat the opioid crisis in a unified way across multiple agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services. He also filmed his part of a video aimed at spreading the word about this effort.
Read media coverage of the Surgeon General's visit:
See tweets from the visit: