Category Archives: environmental health

Are America’s Local Health Departments Prepared for a Cape Town-level Water Crisis?

This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Essential Elements.

Americans currently use about 100 gallons of water per day per person. In Cape Town, South Africa, extreme drought has limited residents to just 13 gallons of water per day since February 1. Depending on rainfall over the coming months, water taps in households and businesses may shut off entirely in this popular tourist destination, one of the wealthiest cities in Africa. Continue reading

Understanding the Changing Public Health Landscape: Findings from the 2017 Forces of Change Survey

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has released its 2017 Forces of Change report, The Changing Public Health Landscape, containing new findings on the forces that are affecting the nation’s local health departments (LHDs). LHDs face both challenges and opportunities as the public health environment evolves, and the Forces of Change survey helps to identify infrastructure gaps, as well as strategies for strengthening public health capacity. Continue reading

NACCHO Partners with the EPA to Advance Environmental Health at the Local Level

epa-mou-group-cropped-293x300By Anastasia Sonneman, NACCHO Communications Specialist

This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Essential Elements blog.

The first month of 2017 marked the beginning of a very exciting and timely collaboration, between NACCHO and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Dr. Thomas Burke, EPA Senior Advisor and Deputy Assistant Director for the Office of Research and Development, hosted NACCHO leadership at the agency’s Washington, D.C.-based headquarters to sign on to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU), committing to join EPA efforts to advance environmental health, particularly with a focus on local communities and public health. Continue reading

A Look Back: The Best of NACCHO Preparedness

prep-highlights

By Anastasia Sonneman, NACCHO Communications Specialist

This story originally ran on NACCHO’s Preparedness Brief.

The year 2016 brought a whole new meaning to the importance of public health emergency preparedness. From the onset of Zika virus disease to international acts of violence related to terrorism, to the worst global migrant crisis since World War II, NACCHO has worked diligently in collaboration with many of its members and partners to enhance the capacity of local health departments (LHDs) to protect and increase the resiliency of their communities. As we enter the new year, many of NACCHO’s preparedness-related projects can still serve as a valuable resource to local preparedness staff. With this in mind, the NACCHO Preparedness team compiled the following list, highlighting a selection of the year’s featured programs, events, resources, and tools. Continue reading

Earth Day 2016: Addressing the Health Effects of Climate Change at the Local Level

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

Celebrating Earth Day provides an opportunity for local health department (LHD) leaders and staff to reflect on and plan for the health effects of climate change. Climate change is already having global impacts; LHDs are on the front lines of ensuring the health and safety of their communities and will face a plethora of local-level challenges brought on by climate change in the future.

Climate change will significantly impact the health of communities. The World Health Organization estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change will cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year.1 Climate change is predicted to bring about an increase in heat-related illnesses; poorer air quality; an increase in droughts, forest fires, and brush fires; and more frequent and intense storms and floods. It will also affect issues such as food security and water-, food-, and insect-borne diseases. Continue reading

DOH-Orange Partners with Hospitals to Conduct Specimen Collection and Testing for Zika Virus

zikaThe following post was originally published on NACCHO’s Healthy People, Healthy Places blog. For more information about environmental health and infectious disease, visit http://essentialelements.naccho.org/.

As local health departments prepare for cases of Zika in their communities, creative solutions and partnerships are necessary to control the spread of the virus. With recent outbreaks of Zika in the Americas, the number of Zika cases will increase and imported cases could result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States.

In the following interview, Sarah D. Matthews, MPH, Epidemiology Department Program Manager at the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange), shares how her health department is engaging in a public-private partnership to test for suspected Zika virus cases. Thanks to existing partnerships with Florida Hospital and Orlando Health Systems, DOH-Orange has been able to build the capability to support medical providers with resources to facilitate the collection and shipping of appropriate specimens to the state’s lab for Zika virus testing.

Q: How does DOH-Orange collaborate with hospitals during the specimen collection and testing process for Zika?

A: Since Florida receives a lot of travelers from Zika-affected countries, on Feb. 3 our Governor Rick Scott directed the State Surgeon General to declare a public health emergency for the counties of residents with travel-associated cases of Zika. Continue reading

The Lead Contamination Crisis in Flint, Michigan: A Joint Statement from NACCHO and ASTHO

The lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan touches on almost every aspect in the daily life of a health department: lead poisoning, water quality, health equity, reproductive health, and other social, political, and environmental impacts. This crisis underscores the basic fundamental need to have safe food, air, and water.

As always, the role of our health departments is to promote and protect the health and well-being of all people in their communities. The National Association of County & City Health Officials and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, alongside our federal partners, support our colleagues in Genesee County and the state of Michigan.  We will continue to update our members about further developments and opportunities to assist with the ongoing crisis and help Flint emerge as a strong and resilient community. Together we are working to immediately learn the lessons from this crisis to better inform public health at the local, state, and national level.

Both NACCHO and ASTHO have a history of responding to emerging issues by leveraging our resources, networks, and members to support the needs of local and state public health departments. Both organizations have been actively communicating with local, state, and federal stakeholders. We will coordinate with all of our partners to assist with needed capacity and resources in this crisis, including epidemiology, surveillance, screening, risk communication, education, remediation, long-term recovery, and policy.