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Local Health Departments Stimulate the Economy, Too

Contact Becky Wexler
(301) 652-1558

Local Health Departments Stimulate the Economy, Too
Washington, DC (February 9, 2009)—
“A job in a local health department benefits the economy in three ways,” reports Robert M. Pestronk, executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) as the U.S. Senate prepares to strip $5.8 billion for prevention and wellness from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “Local health department staff spend their salaries locally. They serve residents of their communities who have lost their jobs. And they create a foundation for healthier communities and families that is essential to economic recovery and workforce productivity, whether by delivering immunizations to prevent disease or acting successfully to reduce obesity, smoking, or diabetes.”

"Local health departments have already lost 7,000 jobs, and this number is escalating,” he said. “Protecting these jobs is no less important for economic stimulus and job creation than efforts to shore up other sectors of the economy.”

The U.S. House version of the stimulus bill, which passed late last month, includes a $3 billion investment aimed at fighting chronic and other preventable diseases. During an economic downturn, when unemployment rates soar, more unemployed workers and their families turn to local health departments for health services. The House bill includes $954 million for immunizations, $545 million for chronic disease prevention, $296 million for the prevention block grant, and an additional flexible $500 million for prevention.  NACCHO urges Congress to preserve the House-passed funding for prevention that will save jobs in public health, a critical area of public service.

NACCHO is the national organization representing the nation's nearly 3,000 local health departments. These agencies work every day on the front lines to protect and promote the health of their communities. NACCHO develops resources and programs and promotes national policies that support effective local public health practice.