Center for the study of community health
West Central Alabama Community Health Improvement League (WCACHIL)
The Center for the Study of Community Health depends heavily on strong community engagement – collaboration, partnership, and participation of individuals and agencies – for our service, education, and research activities. From 1994 to 2009, the Center’s core research projects were conducted in the Alabama Black Belt, and the Center worked with a community participation board that is now incorporated as the West Central Alabama Community Health Improvement League (WCACHIL). The Center continues to develop and support the WCACHIL partnership, and WCACHIL continues to serve as a community liaison for several Center-based community education and research projects as well as projects with other UAB entities and other institutions. Such long-term partnerships demonstrate how communities and academic researchers can work together effectively to gain, translate, and apply knowledge for public health promotion and chronic disease prevention.
Black Belt Institute
Since 2002, WCACHIL has partnered with the Center to provide the annual Black Belt Institute for Public Health. This day-long symposium provides public health education to over 100 community partners from the seven WCACHIL counties in west Alabama. Topics include updates from ongoing local research projects and information and activities related to community-identified themes. Recent sessions have included nutrition, food safety, community advocacy, heat-related illness, and mental health.
Environmental Health for Alabama Communities (ENACT)
Since 2011, WCACHIL has been a community partner for environmental health research with investigators from UAB, Virginina Tech, and Johns Hopkins University. For more information about the research and findings, please see the ENACT website.
Sanitation Health Study
UAB is leading several projects together with WCACHIL and other community partners to evaluate public health related to failing sanitation in the Black Belt of Alabama. The current project is a public health promotion project to expand surveillance for sanitation related infections across West Central Alabama, educate both healthcare workers and the public regarding sanitation related health concerns and link residents to resources. This project will be a collaborative effort between UAB, the West Central Alabama Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the Rural Health Medical Program, Inc. (RHMP), the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), and the Consortium for Rural Alabama Water and Wastewater Management (CFRAWAWM) and the CDC. For more information, please visit the Sanitation Health Study website.