States around the country have cut nearly $392 million for public health programs in the past year, according to a report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
States trimming public health funding: report
The report, Shortchanging America’s Health: A State-By-State Look at How Public Health Dollars Are Spent, stated that federal spending for public health has been flat for nearly five years, leaving communities around the country struggling to deliver basic disease prevention and emergency health preparedness services.
States in the Midwest received the least federal funding support for disease prevention and public health, at only $16.50 per person in fiscal 2009, $3.30 less per person than the Northeastern states, which receive the highest amount, at $19.80 per person. Western states receive $19.22 per person, while Southern states receive $19.75 per person.
“The cumulative effects of budget cuts and job losses have taken a major toll on the ability of health officials to respond not only to large-scale emergencies and disease outbreaks like H1N1 influenza, but to the everyday situations for which the health department is the first line of defense,” said Robert Pestronk, executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, in reaction to the report’s results. The NACCHO represents 2,800 local governmental health departments. “These data sound a warning.”
In its own job loss survey, the NACCHO reported that local health departments lost 16,000 jobs in 2009, and that about 15% of the local public health work force has disappeared in the last two years.
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