Category Archives: community health

Big Data Offers Big Insights into Links Between Environment, Heart Health

By Dr. Cavin Ward-Caviness, Principal Investigator (Computational Biologist), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ORD, NHEERL, EPHD, CRB

This post originally appeared on the EPA blog.

Air Quality Awareness Week, April 29–May 3, is a perfect time to think about how far we have come in understanding how air pollution affects the cardiovascular system. As a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientist studying heart disease, I am very excited about current and future research in this area. Though the burden of heart disease on our society remains high (see the American Heart Association 2018 Statistics on Heart Disease and Stroke), we have only to look at the promising lines of current, cutting-edge research to find reasons to be optimistic about the progress we are making in our understanding and treatment of heart disease. Continue reading

NACCHO CEO Releases Statement on Ongoing Measles Outbreaks

By Lori Tremmel Freeman, NACCHO CEO

“Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed there have been 626 individual cases of measles diagnosed across 22 states in the United States since the first of this year. We are on track to have the highest number of measles cases in the United States in 25 years, and for man this disease of the past is becoming a threat of the present.

“626 cases are far too many. These cases are not just numbers—they represent sick children, missed days of work, and an incredible financial strain on our tax dollars that must be pulled away from other public health priorities. Continue reading

NACCHO Highlights Need for Greater Support for Local Health Departments to Combat Rise in STDs

STD Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), also referred to as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), with local health departments and with local and national policymakers, stakeholders, and the public. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the voice of the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health departments is working diligently to support their members’ work to address rising STD rates across the country and to implement innovative projects, such as its Express STI Visits Initiative, to provide new ways to link individuals to testing and treatment.

“Local health departments work hard every day to reduce STD rates and improve health outcomes in their communities by testing for, treating, and ultimately, preventing STDs. This includes strong prevention and treatment messaging, as well as the essential work of disease intervention specialists (DIS) who are on the frontlines of efforts to disrupt the spread of STDs and prevent outbreaks,” said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Lori Tremmel Freeman. “But as NACCHO’s research shows, they need more support—stagnant or decreasing resources are not enough, and local health departments and their partners need more resources to address these rapidly rising STD rates.”

While STD rates are quickly increasing, federal, state, and local resources have stayed the same or decreased, leaving public health systems strained, including local health departments. In 2017, NACCHO queried its HIV, STI, and Viral Hepatitis Sentinel Network and found that nearly one-third of local health departments reported anticipating budget cuts in the next fiscal year and the majority experiencing stagnant funding for STD programs at best.

As the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) STD Surveillance Report shows, STD rates increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2017, and there has been a steep, sustained increases in the incidence of all three reportable STDs.

Gonorrhea diagnoses increased by almost 70% percent overall and nearly doubled among men. Increases in diagnoses among women — and the speed with which they are increasing — are also concerning, with cases going up for the third year in a row.

Primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses increased 76%. Congenital syphilis (transmitted from the pregnant person to the fetus) cases rose sharply with 918 cases in 2017, a number that has more than doubled since 2013. This included 64 reported stillbirths as a result of congenital syphilis (up from 41 in 2016).

Chlamydia remained the most common condition reported to CDC. More than 1.7 million cases were diagnosed in 2017, with 45% of cases among 15- to 24-year-old females. The preliminary data for 2018 sadly shows these trends continuing and a new CDC analysis suggests that gay and bisexual men are at higher risk for extragenital STDs (e.g. chlamydia or gonorrhea in the throat or rectum), which increases treatment difficulty, drug resistance, and the risk of HIV infection. While these STDs are treatable, if untreated, they can cause serious health consequences such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and stillbirth.

Throughout STD Awareness Month, NACCHO is highlighting each of CDC’s four STD Awareness campaigns: Syphilis Strikes Back, GYT: Get Yourself Tested, Treat Me Right, and Talk. Test. Treat. New blog posts are available each Thursday of April and will feature work that local health departments and NACCHO are doing around the country to address STDs.

For more information, read about our STD work and check out our STD policy statement.

January Is Birth Defects Prevention Month: Are Local Health Departments Ready?

Q&A with NACCHO Board Member Sandra Elizabeth Ford, MD, MBA Director of the DeKalb County Board of Health

A baby is born with a birth defect in the United States every 4.5 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Birth defects are defined as any structural changes present at birth that affect how the body looks, works, or both, and they can vary from mild to severe. While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are concrete steps pregnant mothers can take to increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby. In honor of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the CDC released a resource guide providing pregnant moms tips for preventing birth defects. Continue reading

Preventing HIV Perinatal Transmission and Congenital Syphilis in Broward County Florida

The following Model Practice was submitted by the Florida Department of Health in Broward County. To access this Model Practice and to view the full application, click here. NACCHO is currently accepting applications for the 2018–2019 Model Practices Program until December 12. Learn more and apply today.

Broward County, Florida has a population of approximately 1.9 million people and hosts an estimated 10 million visitors each year. It is a very diverse community with residents from 200 different countries and nearly 130 languages spoken throughout the county. Minorities account for nearly 59.5% of the population, making it a minority/majority county. Continue reading

Implementing Quality Improvement to Address Low Adolescent Vaccination Rates

By Maria Stock, Fairfax County Health Department, VA

This article originally ran in NACCHO’s Stories from the Field.

When the opportunity to join the third cohort of the NIPA Quality Improvement Learning Collaborative arose, the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) joined to help address challenges related to adolescent vaccination rates.

A couple years ago, Fairfax County was struggling with low HPV vaccine initiation and completion rates, and the health department was considering how to initiate a quality improvement (QI) project targeting adolescent vaccination. In 2016, we were given the opportunity to join the third cohort of the National Immunization Partnership with the APA (NIPA), a large-scale, QI Learning Collaborative designed to prioritize HPV vaccination at every adolescent visit. Continue reading

Community Leaders Connect in ACEs and Resilience Community of Practice

By Marilyn Gisser, Washington State Department of Health

It takes a tireless dedication to help your community thrive and to assist those who struggle with health or social challenges. Often the work occurs in isolation and with limited feedback. Washington State received an overwhelming response when it offered to bring together individuals from across the state to talk, reflect, increase their knowledge, build relationships, and problem-solve about child abuse and neglect prevention strategies. Continue reading