Many Ways of Moving Forward
Last week, I had the chance to listen to Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), share some of his thinking on public health issues and challenges at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials meeting in Portland, Oregon. If any of you have heard Dr. Frieden speak, you know that he uses a great deal of data in his presentations – he is very focused on public health impact and health outcomes. That’s why I was surprised that after a great presentation on a number of activities at CDC, full of charts and data, his last slide was a simple, clear quotation from Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was a quotation I had never read before (although I wish I had, especially during our 75th Anniversary Commemoration of Title V):
“There are many ways to move forward, but only one way of standing still.”
The quotation was important for me to hear. We are going through times of major change and upheaval in many states and, in particular, maternal and child health (MCH) programs. Some state leaders I have visited with recently have quite rightly decided to “hunker down” and “stand still.” In light of budget cuts, personnel changes and political turmoil it might make sense to sit and wait for the outcomes of change: who wants to waste effort and revise plans; how can one plan for the unknown?
But, can we afford to stand still given all the movement that is going on around us? How can we innovate if we don’t move forward? How can we meet the needs of women, children and families in our states if we don’t take advancing steps on their behalf? Standing still might feel comfortable, reasonable and safe, but is that what we are called to do as MCH leaders in these very difficult times?
Forward movement is especially important now in a time when it seems like all we are doing is moving backwards. That is why we are asking all our members and partners to share our message opposing cuts to federal programs that support women, children and families. I hope you will move forward with us in any way you can – calling, e-mailing and/or sharing the key messages on Wednesday, Oct. 26. This national call-in day for women, children and families is an important way to support our work and to move forward together.
Join us in carrying out the spirit of the sage advice FDR gave us, to move us forward. We need your support now more than ever. Please share your successes, your challenges, and the many innovative and thoughtful ways in which we can support your work nationwide!
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