Health checkup: Working with and for the community

Ameena Batada; photo courtesy of Batada

Editor’s note: The following Q&A is one of several featured in this week’s Wellness, Part 1 issue. Additional Q&As will appear in next week’s Wellness, Part 2 issue. 

Ameena Batada, co-director of the UNC – Asheville – UNC – Gillings Master of Public Health program in Asheville, discusses community support, her work to address health inequities and the power of friendship.

How does your research directly impact the health of our local community? 

Most public health research I work on is driven by communities and organizations in Asheville-Buncombe, and as such, the findings have implications for the well-being of people in this area. Evaluation research helps organizations to obtain funding to continue their health and other services, education and more. Collaborative surveys support communities and coalitions to advocate for policy changes, such as transit improvements, child care access and youth tobacco marketing restrictions.

How has the pandemic impacted your advocacy in advancing health equity and justice?

I’ve really missed meeting and working in person with community partners these past few years. That said, I think the pandemic illuminated some existing injustices, which opened up opportunities for institutional decision-makers to engage in conversations and approaches to address health and related inequities. Funders also seem to be more aware of the criticality of community leadership and creativity in program and research proposals. The pandemic further cracked, but did not crumble, entrenched systems of oppression.

What is your go-to activity when stressed? 

I like to get outside or to meet up with a friend. Getting outside, whether in a wooded area by a stream or for a walk down my street, encourages me to breathe more deeply, connect physically with the world and check in with how I’m feeling. Being with a friend can provide perspective and support. Plus, we almost always laugh together, which is good for my body and soul.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.