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NACCHO Statement on National Public Health Week


Contact Becky Wexler
(301) 652-1558

NACCHO Statement on National Public Health Week

Washington, DC (April 5, 2010) –

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) joins the American Public Health Association in celebrating National Public Health Week, which runs through Sunday, April 11. This annual recognition of the public health field’s mission to protect and improve our nation’s health is always an opportunity to celebrate advancements in public health, assess our nation’s current public health status, and highlight the importance of taking action to address the health challenges facing individuals and families in our communities.

“Residents in communities nationwide can be proud of their health departments, especially in these challenging times of constrained budgets,” said Robert M. Pestronk, executive director of NACCHO. “Beginning last spring, local health officials were called upon to respond immediately to an as-yet unknown strain of influenza spreading quickly among schoolchildren and others. Although health officials rallied to vaccinate the most vulnerable in their communities against H1N1 influenza, many of them did so with fewer staff than are necessary even to carry out the routine functions of a local health department.”

This year’s National Public Health Week is focused on making America healthier, one community at a time.  Local health departments do their part every day, by providing Americans with basic disease prevention and emergency preparedness services. But budget cuts, workforce reductions, and other economic factors have left many local health departments struggling to meet daily demands. NACCHO estimates indicate that about 23,000 jobs, or 15 percent of the total local public health workforce, have disappeared in the last two years. Federal spending for public health has also been flat for nearly five years.

In 2008, NACCHO found that local health departments had lost 7,000 jobs through budget-related cuts, layoffs, position eliminations, and attrition. NACCHO’s latest survey, released this month, finds that local health departments lost 8,000 jobs in the second half of 2009—compounding the loss of another 8,000 positions in the first half of the year. For the better part of 2009, these resource-strapped local health departments had to respond to H1N1 influenza while continuing to ensure the safety of school cafeteria and restaurant food and providing preventive services that reduce the tolls of diseases such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

About the National Association of County and City Health Officials
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation's 2,800 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities.