The disease intervention model to address STDs has been insufficient in containing the epidemic of chlamydia. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) initiated an innovative method of addressing chlamydia using community organizing. MDH believes engaging communities in culturally specific actions of their choosing to address chlamydia at the local level is ultimately more effective at changing community norms and individual behaviors related to sexual health than large-scale, wide reaching activities designed by state health departments.
The Minnesota Chlamydia Partnership developed the Minnesota Chlamydia Strategy that rural and urban communities use to guide their planning. MDH funded a project to demonstrate how to implement ideas from the Strategy in rural Minnesota; an inner city project followed. These groups are creating coalitions, convening community forums, building new relationships and conducting media campaigns to raise community and provider awareness.
A Summit was held, workgroups formed and the action plan was released in April 2011. The “Special Report: Chlamydia Prevention”, was published in September 2012. Minnesota health plans worked with the MCP to create and distribute a Chlamydia Screening Toolkit to over 400 providers and delivered three webinars. The rural demonstration project held six community meetings, conducted a survey and distributed 50 information packets to providers, worked with an alternative school to create a You Tube video, and implemented a campaign to encourage parents to talk to their children. The project was featured in a front-page newspaper article. Local clinics held screening campaigns, designed billboards, and included information in their newsletters. Interest in replicating this model has been expressed from various locations in the U.S. and Canada.
High rates of chlamydia indicate long-term, multi-dimentional approaches created and led by the affected communities and populations are needed. Public health is a key partner in this collaboration.