Dear PHLA Members:
As the summer of 2008 begins, I want to provide an update on your Public Health Law Association (PHLA).
As you will recall, we have extended our contract with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to complete the publication of our three state-of -the-art papers in the fall in association with the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics (ASLME). In addition, we are planning to discuss them during a poster session to be held at the joint annual meeting of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in Sacramento, California in September. The Foundation also asked us to develop a plan for an annual public health law conference to be held next year which would be broad-based and meaningful to all of the constituencies who participate in and value public health law.
During the weekend of June 27-29, 2008, a small group of us met in Boston together with representatives from the ASLME to work on developing a national conference which would recreate the kinds of conferences that had previously occurred in Atlanta through 2006. We are in the process of working out the details to provide to RWJF. Our hope is that the conference will be held in the Midwest to make travel easier for persons traveling from the west coast and will consist of a variety of plenary and individual sessions allowing for input from all of the participants in a meaningful fashion. Our goal is for there to be a learning activity for each attendee whether that individual is a government official (with or without a legal background), an academic attorney, or a private sector attorney. We want to assure that participants both learn the current issues in public health law as well as participate in problem solving sessions to find solutions to the most pressing problems confronting the field.
We also took some time to discuss the future of your PHLA and discussed the possibility of partnering with the ASLME, which has many similar objectives to ours and also supports an infrastructure that can enhance the capability of our organization. We are very excited about the possibility of working more closely with Ben Moulton and his staff and are carrying out some of our current efforts with them this summer to “get a feel for the fit” of our two organizations. So far, all has been going well, and our next series of activities should clarify our working relationship and future operational interactions.
The members of the Board appreciate your support and patience as we undertake these most important steps to assure the continuation of PHLA in the future. During this period we have not solicited dues so that we might pursue this effort with our full energies. We hope in the future to announce our new relationship and reinvigorate our efforts to support membership activities once again. This past year has been difficult with limited staff and a budget that has been fully supportive of the efforts required by the RWJF grant.
As we move forward, I will continue to keep you advised of our progress.
Martin Wasserman, MD, JD
President, Public Health Law Association