Every Child Deserves To Celebrate Their First Birthday

By Folashade Osibanjo, MPH, CLC, Program Analyst, Breastfeeding Project

As the annual commemoration of Infant Mortality Awareness Month draws to a close, let’s reaffirm our commitment to protect the lives of all children in our communities. Local health department (LHDs), in particular, have a unique opportunity to redouble their efforts to reduce infant deaths by promoting community-based preventative services, strengthening partnerships, and by cultivating new alliances to ensure that every baby lives to celebrate his or her first birthday. Addressing infant mortality is of public health importance because the health of the most vulnerable is an indicator of the well-being of our entire population.

In a given year, the infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of deaths among children under the age of one per 1,000 live births. According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. IMR in 2013 is 5.96 per 1,000 live births. This represents a public health achievement for us in the U.S. where the Healthy People 2020 goal for IMR is 6.0 per 1,000 live births. However, this achievement is not equitably shared across all racial and ethnic groups; at 11.11 per 1,000 live births the IMR for non-Hispanic blacks is more than double that of non-Hispanic whites, 5.06 per 1,000 live births.

The five leading causes of IMR are low birth weight, congenital malformations, unintentional injuries, maternal complications, and sudden infant death syndrome. Data collected from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) allows LHDs to identify community specific factors that contribute to infant mortality and develop targeted strategies to address them. It is critical that LHDs engage partners within their community to promote behaviors and institute policies to improve poor health outcomes. Breastfeeding, in particular, is an effective low cost intervention that is a known infant mortality moderator.

Although extensive research points to breastfeeding promotion as a high impact strategy for reducing IMR, limited resources within some communities have led to its deprioritization. The Breastfeeding Report Card shows that while the U.S. breastfeeding rates have risen, the gap between non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites have remained the same. Through NACCHO’s CDC-funded Breastfeeding Project, 69 local organizations, including LHDs and community-based organizations increased their capacity to provide peer and professional lactation support to breastfeeding mothers in predominantly African-American and underserved communities.

One grantee, the Family League of Baltimore (FLB), coupled their breastfeeding promotion activities with a city-wide infant mortality reduction initiative, B’more for Healthy Babies (BHB). In partnership with the Baltimore City Health Department, Family League administers BHB, which provides comprehensive, community centered support to African-Americans and low income women who are pregnant or newly parenting. FLB worked closely with local and state WIC programs, home visiting programs, federally qualified health centers, and local EMPower hospitals seeking to become baby friendly. The grantee provided both group and one-on-one peer and professional breastfeeding support to more than 150 women. Below are links to the breastfeeding promotional videos created by FLB and Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs for B’more for Healthy Babies with funding from a cooperative agreement with NACCHO and the CDC:

Cultivating and strengthening partnerships are critical in the battle to save infant lives by reducing disparities in both IMR and breastfeeding rates.

  • National Action Partnership to Promote Safe Sleep (NAPPSS) is a coalition of over 60 organizations working to bridge the gap between breastfeeding and safe sleep;
  • Collaborative Improvement & Innovation Networks (COIINs) are teams of experts working to tackle health issues that affect the quality of life of women, children, and families; and

To learn more about partnering, join the Breastfeeding Project Team for the upcoming webinar, Breastfeeding in the Community: Closing the Care Gap on Wednesday, October 12 at 2:00PM–3:30PM EDT. This interactive webinar will address varying mechanisms that can be used to create a continuum of care to promote and support breastfeeding in underserved communities. CEUs are pending. Register today.

How is your LHD partnering to address infant mortality and promote breastfeeding? Let us know by leaving a comment.


LHD of the Year Award Winner, the Kansas City Missouri Health Department, Works Toward Health Equity and Social Justice

lhdaward-fornaccho-lowresBy Taylarr Lopez, Communications Specialist, NACCHO

NACCHO is pleased to recognize the Kansas City (MO) Health Department as a recipient of the 2016 Local Health Department of the Year Award. This award recognizes and honors outstanding accomplishments of local health departments (LHDs) across the country for their innovation, creativity, and impact on communities.

Kansas City, MO, is a diverse urban community in the heart of the Midwest with a population of 459,787 people. The Kansas City Missouri Health Department (KCMOHD) has protected the population’s health for 150 years and operates with a mission to promote, preserve, and protect the health of Kansas City residents and visitors. KCMOHD employs 200 staff through various programs, some which are active in both Missouri and Kansas. Programs and services strive to prevent illness and injuries, improve health services, enforce public health laws, and support policy development to build a healthier community. Continue reading

Local Health Departments Showcase Public Health Programs and Build Relationships with Congressional Staff

Tri-County Health Department

Tri-County Health Department staff meet with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO).

By Eli Briggs, Senior Director of Government Affairs, NACCHO

For many local health departments (LHDs), communicating with Members of Congress and Congressional staff about their work and the need for federal support is part of how they protect the public’s health. Below NACCHO profiles two LHDs that have successfully taken on this challenge.

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Preparedness Month 2016: Raising Local Awareness this September and Beyond

By LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, Executive Director, NACCHO

September marks National Preparedness Month, a golden opportunity for local health department (LHD) and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Unit leaders, staff, and volunteers to highlight the importance of public health preparedness. Whether it is a natural disaster, like the current flooding in New Orleans, or a sudden disease outbreak, like the Zika virus, raising awareness about preparedness, its various components, and the role of LHDs, MRC Units, other agencies, and community members is crucial to ensuring the health and safety of our nation. LHDs and MRC Units—typically leading the charge in the wake of a public health emergency—stand to particularly benefit in two big ways by celebrating Preparedness Month. First, they can pique community interest in emergency planning and response activities in September, and ultimately inspire residents to be vigilant and engaged in preparedness efforts throughout the year.

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National Immunization Awareness Month: Local Health Departments Celebrate and Promote Vaccination

Claude JacobBy Claude-Alix Jacob, MPH, NACCHO President and Chief Public Health Officer for the Cambridge (MA) Public Health Department

Vaccines are one of the most important achievements in public health and have prevented wide-scale illness and death since their conception. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that vaccinations will prevent more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born between 1994 and 2013.1

Despite their incredible ability to prevent the spread of harmful diseases, gaps in vaccination coverage persist. In 2014, a record-breaking 667 cases of measles were reported nationally, the largest number of cases since measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. In my own backyard, Harvard University recently experienced an outbreak of mumps that affected over 50 students, faculty, and staff. My health department worked collaboratively with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Harvard University Health Services to facilitate diagnosis and laboratory testing, disseminate public health messaging, and conduct contact tracing investigations.  Continue reading

2016 Maurice “Mo” Mullet Lifetime of Service Award Recipient Patrick Libbey Reflects on His Career Path into Public Health and Shares Advice on Starting a Career in LHDs

Maurice "Mo" Mullet Lifetime of Service Award Recipient Patrick Libbey

Maurice “Mo” Mullet Lifetime of Service Award Recipient Patrick Libbey

By Taylarr Lopez, Communications Specialist, NACCHO

NACCHO is pleased to recognize Patrick M. Libbey as the recipient of the 2016 Maurice “Mo” Mullet Lifetime of Service Award. This award honors current or former local health officials for noteworthy service to NACCHO that has reflected the commitment, vigor, and leadership exemplified by Mo’s distinguished career. Throughout Libbey’s more than 35 years in public health, he has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to advocating for and strengthening the work of local health departments (LHDs). He has also served NACCHO in a number of important capacities, amplifying the voice of local health departments at the national and federal levels.

Libbey served as NACCHO’s executive director from 2002 to 2008. During his tenure, NACCHO was increasingly recognized and engaged by a range of federal agencies and national organizations as a critical resource and partner, ensuring the perspective of local public health was considered in policy and program implementation and development. Libbey initiated the NACCHO Operational Definition, the organization’s effort to create a uniform, nationally shared definition and standards for a functional local health department. The Definition gained national recognition and acceptance and served as a key base for the emerging national voluntary public health accreditation effort. He served as NACCHO President in 2001–2002. He was a member of the NACCHO Board of Directors from 1992 to 2002; a member of the Executive Committee from 1994 to 2002; chair of the Education Committee; and chair of the County Forum. Continue reading

Incoming NACCHO President Claude-Alix Jacob Shares His Priorities for Local Health Departments and Explains Why a Career in Local Public Health is One of the Best-Kept Secrets

Claude JacobOn July 1, Claude-Alix Jacob, MPH, Chief Public Health Officer for the Cambridge (MA) Public Health Department, became NACCHO’s President. Jacob is a long-standing and dedicated member of NACCHO and has served on a variety of different advisory groups including the Annual Conference Workgroup, the Health Equity and Social Justice Committee, the Survive and Thrive Workgroup, and the Finance Committee. He has served on NACCHO’s Board of Directors since 2010. He recently spoke to NACCHO Voice about his career path, the challenges his health department is currently facing, the priorities for his Presidency, and his advice for those just starting their careers in local public health.

  • Tell us about your career path in public health and how you got to where you are today.

I am the local health officer here in Cambridge, MA, and have served in this capacity since April 2007. We are a medium-sized local health department with a jurisdiction of about 110,000 residents. The geography of Cambridge is very small—it’s only six and a half square miles. By scale, we’re the second largest health department in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has the most decentralized public health system in the nation, with over 300 local health departments covering a population of 6.6 million residents.

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