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Akron, Ohio

Mayor Horrigan Joined by Health Experts and Community Leaders for 5th Annual Health Equity Summit


City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of City of Akron Press Office
Published: 11-16-2021

Akron, Ohio, November 16, 2021 — Last week, Mayor Horrigan held his 5th Annual Health Equity Summit. Each year, the Health Equity Summit brings together a diverse coalition of healthcare leaders, medical professionals, social service agencies, citizen advocates, and grassroots organizations to discuss the modern ramifications of systemically racist practices and policies and how to equitably tackle racial disparities in healthcare. This year’s two-day virtual Summit, facilitated by Tamiyka Rose, the City’s Health Equity Ambassador and co-chair of the Mayor’s Full Term First Birthday Initiative, had an urgent focus on finding evidence-based solutions to prevent youth and community violence.

On the first day, Dr. Arthur R. James, a former obstetrician, gynecologist, and associate clinical professor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, was the featured keynote speaker. His presentation shed light on how systemic racism has greatly increased the number of early and preventable deaths in minority communities.

In a series of moderated panels, medical professionals discussed the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, gave insights into the safety of the vaccine for pregnant women and children, and discussed productive methods of communication for those who are skeptical of vaccination.

Summit County Public Health's Manager of Maternal Child Health and co-chair of Full Term First Birthday, Shaleeta Smith gave updates on how they are utilizing resources to prevent infant mortality and increase infant vitality by engaging the community with resources to ensure children are set up for success later in life.

Ohio House Minority Leader Representative Emilia Sykes joined a panel to discuss the need for policy makers to do more to help provide financial opportunities to families.

The second day of the Summit focused on how economic inequities are barriers to healthcare access. Bev-Freda Jackson, Ph.D. delivered a keynote address which focused on how and why minority communities are less likely to address mental health issues with professional treatment, and the consequences of this lack of support.

The Summit ended with a moderated discussion between Mayor Horrigan and Akron City Council President Margo Sommerville on how city government is working to tackle a rise in youth and community violence with a holistic, strategic framework and historic investments thanks to American Rescue Plan funds.

“While these conversations are never easy, it is critically important to discuss the reality that far too often health outcomes for Akron residents differ based on race,” Mayor Horrigan said. “Finding equitable solutions that will close this gap and increase health services, both physical and mental, across Akron will make this a healthier, safer city for everyone.”

He continued, “The American Rescue Plan has enabled us to make historic investments to reshape Akron for generations. One of the top priorities is investing in effective violence prevention strategies to enhance the safety and wellbeing of some of our most undeserved communities. Embracing a whole-of-Akron approach that gives local youth educational and economic opportunities is key to deterring community violence and breaking historic cycles of poverty.” 

To watch a playlist with a variety of video clips from both days of the Summit please click here. The entirety of the Health Equity Summit can also be found on the City of Akron’s YouTube channel.

This year’s Summit was presented by Medical Mutual with additional support provided by Cleveland Clinic, Summa Health, Akron Children’s and Summit County Public Health.

The City would like to thank all those who volunteered their time to join the panels and offered their expertise throughout the Summit as well as all those who tuned in to learn more about these pressing topics.


For further information, contact:
City of Akron Press Office
Phone: 330-375-2754
E-mail: [email protected]

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