As part of its ongoing goal to positively impact health systems, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota will host a free “Health Equity and Social Justice Forum” from 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at the Saint Mary’s University Center, 2540 Park Ave., in Minneapolis.

Achieving sustained health in our communities requires overcoming significant societal and global challenges. Inequity in health has a devastating impact on much of the world’s population, with up to 80 percent of people not getting adequate healthcare due to social and economic constraints.

Join with other professionals in a discussion about how an improved understanding of social justice and health inequities can positively influence decisions made by health systems leaders, practitioners, and educators.

Keynote speaker Dr. Michael Westerhaus, co-founder of the Social Medicine Consortium, is an internal medicine primary care physician at the Center for International Health in St. Paul, providing care to refugees and immigrants. As a member of the global health faculty at the University of Minnesota, he also works to improve community-based primary care delivery in both Minnesota and northern Uganda.

The Social Medicine Consortium is a collective of committed individuals, universities, and organizations fighting for health equity through education, training, service, and advocacy, with social medicine at its core.

Dr. Westerhaus will discuss:

  • Definitions of social determinants of health and social medicine, and the importance of understanding how they impact our communities across the globe;
  • Ethical principles and complexities of health inequities in areas such as mental health, preventable diseases, and maternal and child care;
  • Human rights and social justice frameworks as critical elements for understanding and addressing inequalities to better partner better with patients and communities; and
  • Innovative pedagogy to transform learner understandings of and responses to health inequities.

As the field of public health is constantly evolving to meet the needs of communities and populations, Saint Mary’s has formed a B.S. in Public Health program and is planning more programming in the near future to train professionals to meet these demands.

Light refreshments will be served at this valuable networking event, sponsored by Saint Mary’s Graduate School of Health and Human Services and the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership.

For more information and to register, go to

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