Dr. Jett Receives 2015 Global Leadership Award

Vitas Healthcare and No Limit Health and Education presented NACCHO President Dr. Swannie Jett with the 2015 Global Leadership Award at the Community Champion Awards Brunch held Aug. 29 in Lake Mary, Florida. Jett, who is health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County, received the award for exemplifying community leadership by building strong partnerships with local organizations and for improving the health of Seminole County residents.

International Overdose Awareness Day: Prevention, Intervention, and Resources

7637192 pillsBy Sheri Lawal, MPH, CHES, Program Analyst, Injury and Violence Prevention, NACCHO

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, a day for raising awareness that overdose death is preventable. According to The Facts Hurt: A State-by-State Injury Prevention Policy Report, overdose is the number one cause of injury-related death in the United States, and prescription opioids are the number one drug involved in overdose deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that five million people report nonmedical use of prescription opioids (i.e., use without a prescription or medical need). Opioid use disorders often begin with a prescription, or taking pills from a home medical cabinet. Approximately 68% of people who begin using prescription drugs non-medically obtain those drugs from a family member or friend.

A Growing Problem
Prescription opioid use has increased steadily as the number of opioid prescriptions increased. According to the CDC, in 2010, there were 209.5 million prescriptions for opioid analgesics, compared to 75.5 million prescriptions in 1991. In 2013 alone, nearly 44,000 deaths were attributed to overdose. Data show a one percent increase in deaths involving prescription opioids, a 12% increase in deaths involving cocaine, and a 37% increase in deaths involving heroin from 2012 to 2013.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that prescription opioid death rates are highest in people aged 45–54, while heroin death rates are highest in people aged 25–34. Men have higher overdose death rates from cocaine, heroin, prescription opioids, and other prescription drugs (e.g., benzodiazepines). Prescription opioid overdose deaths are highest among low-income and rural populations, non-Hispanic whites, and people with mental illness. Recently, many communities have faced an increase in heroin overdose deaths due to fentanyl-laced heroin.

Prevention and Intervention
Reducing drug abuse and overdose requires a comprehensive approach. Primary prevention, early identification and intervention of a developing substance use disorder, and medication-assisted treatment are just some strategies that can curb overdose. Identifying populations at highest risk of abuse and overdose can help public health partners target prevention strategies to those most at need.

Public health efforts to prevent prescription opioid abuse and overdose have shown progress; death rates have slowed, more states are utilizing prescription drug monitoring programs, and local health departments (LHDs) are engaging physicians, pharmacists, law enforcement, and substance abuse treatment providers to target people most at risk. Still, more must be done to prevent prescription opioid overdose death and address the deaths caused by cocaine and heroin.

Earlier this month, the White House announced $13.4 million in funding for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas to address the severe heroin threat facing communities through partnerships between public health and law enforcement. Additional funding to support LHDs as they combat the epidemic in local communities can help save lives, rehabilitate individuals, and heal communities. Read more about the initiative and NACCHO’s response.

Additional Resources
The following resources can help LHDs learn more about overdose prevention:

NACCHO Study Highlights Partnerships between MRC and Public Health

DentonCountyMRCBy Julie Looper, Senior Program Analyst, NACCHO

The following post was originally published on NACCHO’s Preparedness Brief blog. For more preparedness news and information, visit http://www.nacchopreparedness.org.

Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) partnerships with state and local officials provide key support to public health and emergency response services. The need for these partnerships to expand and strengthen is likely to increase as communities face ongoing budgetary declines and increasing demands on resources. Understanding the characteristics of these partnerships will help to identify where and how assistance can be provided to initiate and support MRC units and can also have the potential to influence policy and strategic decision-making from the local to federal level. Continue reading

Promote the Importance of Vaccines during National Immunization Awareness Month

The following post was originally published on NACCHO’s new Healthy People, Healthy Places blog. The blog offers the latest news, resources, tools, and events for local health departments on issues such as climate change, vector-borne and infectious diseases, foodborne illnesses, and immunization. Visit the blog at http://essentialelements.naccho.org/.

IZ-month-logoRates of vaccine-preventable diseases have decreased significantly in the last century with the development of safe and effective vaccines. Diseases like whooping cough and diphtheria used to kill thousands of people each year, but many doctors today have never even seen a case. The United States is also on its way to reaching 80% standard vaccine series coverage for children 19 to 35 months, with coverage rates increasing from 44.3% in 2009 to 68.4% in 2012. To capitalize on this success and keep the momentum going, your local health department can promote the importance of vaccines during National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) in August. Continue reading

Building Informatics Capacity: The Informatics-Savvy Health Department Self-Assessment

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Brand and Bara

What can local health departments (LHDs) do to improve their informatics capacity? NACCHO Voice interviewed Bill Brand, MPH, Director of Informatics Science, and Debra Bara, MA, Director of Practice Support at the Public Health Informatics Institute. Brand and Bara presented the session “Building Informatics Capacity: The Informatics-Savvy Health Department Self-Assessment” at NACCHO Annual 2015.

Why is informatics so important to local health departments (LHDs) today?

Brand: Informatics is an applied science that makes effective use of data. When data is transformed into information, it is used to inform public health decisions, allocate resources, and determine the effectiveness of interventions. Continue reading

National Breastfeeding Month: Reducing Disparities though Peer and Professional Support

By NACCHO’s Safe & Healthy Families Team

August is National Breastfeeding Month, a time to focus on promoting and protecting breastfeeding in the United States. Public health workers hope to use the month-long spotlight to generate awareness about the importance of breastfeeding, help ensure access to necessary lactation care and services for all women, including those in the workforce, and support all present and future breastfeeding mothers.

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways mothers can prevent disease and protect the health of their infants. Continue reading

How Does Class Affect Public Health?

By Tiffany Huang, MPH, Program Analyst, Assessment and Planning, NACCHO

“The commodification of people is the biggest issue we face in public health,” stated Kathryn Evans, MPA, a trained community organizer with United Community Services of Johnson County, during the closing general session at NACCHO Annual 2015. Evans spoke compellingly about the roles of power, class oppression, and racism as determinants of health inequities, and along with her fellow panelists, called for public health to act upon them.

Public health has long acknowledged that socioeconomic status is one of the strongest predictors of health outcomes across nearly all diseases and risk factors.1 However, socioeconomic status alone does not adequately capture the meaning of class. Continue reading