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The Pennsylvania Department of Health will partner with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (HU) to host a statewide Health Equity Summit on Thursday and Friday, April 4–5, 2024, at the UPMC Health Sciences Tower at Harrisburg University.

The summit’s theme, “Joy and Justice,” underscores the Department’s commitment to prioritizing health access and eliminating iniquities in the patient experience.

Acting Secretary of Health, Dr. Debra Bogen, expressed enthusiasm about the upcoming summit as an opportunity to translate words into action:

“Health equity is at the heart of the work we do at the Department of Health, so I am very excited about this upcoming summit. Addressing social determinants of health to improve health equity in Pennsylvania is a primary focus of our five-year State Health Improvement Plan. Consistent with the theme for this year’s summit, we envision a Commonwealth where everyone has the opportunity to live a joyful life with justice for all.”

The 2024 Health Equity Summit brings together manifold stakeholders, including professors, healthcare professionals, state agencies, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and faith-based organizations. Their collective goal is to eliminate health disparities in Pennsylvania by 2030.

This two-day event will facilitate discussions and propose solutions to address disparities in health outcomes across communities. The overarching objective is to encourage collaborative engagement among professionals through a shared vocabulary, common priorities, and pooled resources. Some of the 2024 summit discussion topics include:

  • Health equity policy
  • Improving maternal health
  • Climate impacts and environmental justice
  • Disability community health
  • LGBTQ+ health equity
  • Infant mortality and NICU rare disease innovations
  • Refugee and migrant health and housing equity

Additionally, keynote speaker Anthony Iton, MD, JD, MPH, and Senior Vice President for Programs & Partnerships of The California Endowment, is scheduled to present on April 5.

  • Registration for the summit is open until March 22, with options for participants to attend either in person or virtually.
  • The Department of Health Office of Health Equity is also seeking exhibitor applications through April 1, 2024.
  • The half-day event on April 4, hosted by Harrisburg University at the UPMC Health Sciences Tower located at 222 Chestnut Street, will run from 11:00 AM to 4:30 PM, followed by special film screenings at 5:00 PM and 6:30 PM.
  • The full-day event on April 5, hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Health at the Harrisburg University Academic Tower at 326 Market Street, commences with a Capitol walking tour at 7:00 AM, followed by continuous summit programming until 5:00 PM.

Disparities in healthcare access and outcomes persist across the United States and are exacerbated by geography as well as racial, ethnic, gender, and other demographic factors.

The National Institutes of Health describes some of these disparities as “staggering” – including rates of infant mortality among Indigenous populations, which can be 60 percent higher than rates for white patients.

Luanne Hutchinson, Executive Director for Strategic Healthcare Initiatives at Harrisburg University, celebrated this chance to positively impact cultural, socioeconomic, and public health issues in the region:

“As a nonprofit center of learning, Harrisburg University serves our students and our community first. Events like these give us a way to create closer relationships between academics and active practitioners in health sciences. This is the missing link we see too frequently in regional talent pipelines. Opportunities like this are an important piece of continuous learning in healthcare equity. It is a role that all of us at HU are excited and honored to be a part of.”


Mark O’Neill

Press Secretary, PA Department of Health

Jessica Warren

Executive Director of Marketing & Communications, Harrisburg University


The Office of Health Equity (OHE) was formally integrated into the Office of Operational Excellence and the PA Department of Health in May 2007. OHE was founded on the belief that everyone in Pennsylvania should have “the opportunity to attain their highest level of health.” The Office of Health Equity works with local and regional stakeholders, like universities, health system partners, state agencies, and community groups, to raise awareness of health disparities in Pennsylvania, and work to eliminate them through new programs, progressive policy, beneficial partnerships, and public outreach.


Harrisburg University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is a private, nonprofit university offering bachelor’s and graduate degree programs in the fields of science, technology, and mathematics. For additional information about the University’s affordable, demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, please call 717-901-5146 or email Stay updated by following Harrisburg University on XLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook.