SAN ANTONIO — Moving San Antonio forward in becoming a healthier city is the goal for a new public health program.
Metro Health and city leaders launched "SA Forward" to address health disparities across San Antonio in several different areas.
“SA Forward sets the direction of how we as a city will move forward from this pandemic to protect and improve the health of our community,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in front of the City Hall steps.
Part of the plan is to address pandemic-related lessons learned regarding social justice, public health capacity and the state of the public health workers, according to a press release from Metro Health.
The five-year plan includes prioritizing healthcare access, adverse childhood experiences, nutrition, violence prevention, data and technology infrastructure, health equity and social justice and mental health and community resilience.
Metro Health says the program will also focus on health disparities that disproportionately affect Black and Latino populations in the city.
With several goals in mind, Metro Health says the success of the program will be measured over time.
“We are using evidence-based practices, this is dovetailing off of initiatives we’ve had with the input from community partners. We’ll be reporting out systematically, progress over time,” Claude Jacob, Public Health Director said.
As part of the 2022 fiscal year, $16.3 million was allocated to Metro Health in the city budget, but city leaders say they will pursue any available funding for the program.
"I believe in order for us to chart our own future in public health locally, we have to put in our local dollars," city councilwoman Ana Sandoval said at the press conference.
SA Forward launched an informational dashboard that explains the goals of the project and how people can access the resources available through Metro Health.
“It tells the story of San Antonio’s most pressing challenges and health issues and gives residents insight into the social and economic drivers of health. The interactive platform allows residents to stay informed about health and how the burden of disease affects their neighborhoods,” Jacob said.
There are different benchmarks for each part of the program. For example, the first-year progress of the violence prevention aspect includes launching a case management system that uses evidence-based screening and evaluation tools.
By the end of the program, the city wants to launch a Domestic Violence Crisis Response Advocate and Case Management program to identify individuals at high risk of experiencing or perpetrating domestic violence.
City leaders will be meeting on April 13 to set goals for the program. It will be part of a months-long process of allocating dollars from the city budget for the program in the 2023 fiscal year.
You can check out the SA Forward dashboard here.