Jasmine Zapata, MD, MPH (Assistant Professor, Division of Neonatology & Newborn Nursery) has been appointed to the Governor’s Health Equity Council, which has been charged with creating a comprehensive plan to reduce and eliminate health disparities throughout the state of Wisconsin by 2030. The announcement was made by Governor Tony Evers on September 30, 2020. It follows an executive order from earlier this year to create the council and a 2016 report published by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, which gave the state of Wisconsin an overall health disparities grade of “D.”
As a member of the council, Zapata plans to be vocal and advocate for health inequities in pediatric care and access. Her primary focus will be addressing the racial inequities in maternal child health. “College-educated Black women have two to three times higher rates of infant mortality and premature birth than white women who are high school dropouts,” stated Zapata in the council’s first meeting on September 30. This statistic is something she passionately wants to change, both as a public health doctor and as a Black mother. In fact, it was her own journey as a mother that led her to study and compare the different maternal health outcomes of Black and white women in Wisconsin. “I feel excited that my personal and professional experiences are able to align,” stated Zapata. “My training at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health, especially my board certification in Preventive Medicine and Public Health, have prepared me for a moment such as this.”
Thirty-three people will serve on the Health Equity Council. In addition to Zapata, three other individuals with appointments at University of Wisconsin will serve on the committee: Gina Green-Harris, MBA (Director of the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute Regional Milwaukee Office, Director of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health Center for Community Engagement and Health Partnerships, and Director of the All of Us Research program in Milwaukee), Paula Tran Inzeo, MPH (Director of the Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health program in the Population Health Institute), and Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, MA (UW Health Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion). Green-Harris will serve as chair of the council.
“Given all that is going on in our county, state, and nation, I knew that now more than ever, it was time for me to continue the fight for health equity and advocate for patients and families both inside the clinic walls and within the community,” stated Zapata as she reflected on the announcement of her appointment. “Overall, I feel really excited and hopeful for the future!”