April 15, 2019
Over 100 people attended the 4th Annual Oral Health Equity Summit on March 29, 2019! Event photos can be found here.
In the first panel, representatives from Jessie Trice Community Health Systems Inc., FIU Neighborhood Help Program, and Community Health of South Florida Inc. shared information about different dental care resources in Miami-Dade County.
Following this panel, dental care was discussed from the policy aspect, to explore ways to increase or incentivize civic participation in oral health advocacy. Dr. Claudia Serna, an Associate Professor of Public Health at Nova Southeastern University’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, discussed the Dental Health Act, the first piece of legislation at the federal level to solely cover dental care. Miriam Harmatz, the Executive Director at the Florida Health Justice Project, spoke about policy proposals in Medicare and Medicaid that affect Miami-Dade County, while also shedding light on increasing dental coverage in Jackson Health systems. Catalyst Miami’s Resilience Director, Zelalem Adefris, tied in how Catalyst Miami engages community residents advocacy for social justice issues such as oral health.
Students from Nova Southeastern University presented oral health projects. One student, researched the benefits of local drinking tap water, finding that drinking tap water is not only safe, but also beneficial to good oral health (called “Encouraging the Consumption of Water in Miami-Dade County Schools”). Another student, Lovleen Sidhu, created and presented an advocacy toolkit, hoping to serve as a roadmap on how to effectively advocate for oral health access. Following this presentation, participants were able to write a letter to their State Senator, either Marco Rubio or Rick Scott, encouraging their support for better oral health care policies.
Two oral health youth advocates, Likia Horne and Jasmine Fuller, presented their photovoice project that explored the lack of healthy food options around their school and neighborhood. Over the past year, Likia, Jasmine, and other youth advocates, have been raising awareness among their peers about the importance of oral health, collecting advocacy letters and running a social media campaign called #Rush2Brush.
We hope to continue to create more oral health advocates in Miami and avenues to share resources while increasing access. Be on the lookout for upcoming advocacy sessions on increasing oral health access within Miami-Dade County.