Local health departments lost 23,000 jobs, or about 15% of the local health department workforce, to layoffs and attrition from January 2008 until December 2009, according to the National Association of County & City Health Officials in the third installment of a series of nationally representative surveys.
Job cuts seen hindering health departments
That cumulative number reflects 7,000 jobs lost between January and December 2008; 8,000 lost between January and June of 2009; and another 8,000 lost from July through December 2009. Meanwhile, according to the study, 63% of the U.S. population lived in the jurisdiction of a local health department that cut at least one service in 2009.
“Continued cuts to local health department budgets threaten Americans' safety and health,” Robert Pestronk, executive director of NACCHO, said in a news release about the findings. “Although local health departments will continue to do the best job they can with the resources available to them, the cumulative effects of these 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.”
The study also showed that due to budget cuts, a quarter of local health departments nationwide made cuts to population-based, primary prevention programs, such as cost-effective, community-based activities that improve childhood nutrition; increase physical activity; prevent tobacco use; or encourage other healthy choices that reduce the burden of chronic disease.
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