Category Archives: Uncategorized

Local Health Department Intervention Critical as Hepatitis Rates Continue to Rise

NACCHO has released the following statement in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) newly released 2017 Annual Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Report. The report  reveals that  rates of acute hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV) infection in the U.S. continue to rise.

“The new report highlights the impact that viral hepatitis is having on communities across the country and underscores the need for investments in local health departments to implement and continue effective public health interventions to prevent and treat viral hepatitis,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, NACCHO’s Chief Executive Officer.  “These efforts, along with critical work of community, state and local partners, is needed to address the spread and the numerous factors that contribute to these rising rates.  Failure to collaboratively act on these data will have significant consequences for our communities.

According to the new report, cases of HAV jumped nearly 70 percent from 2016 to 2017, an increase largely attributable to person-to-person outbreaks among people experiencing homelessness and people who inject drugs. HBV rates among persons aged 40-49 years are the highest in 15 years, partly due to lack of vaccine protection in recommended populations, and factors such as injection drug use and multiple sex partners compound the risk in older age groups. HCV infections have more than tripled since 2010 and the number of new cases is likely much higher but inestimable due to limited testing and underreporting. Large outbreaks of HCV have occurred predominantly among younger adults, primarily as a result of increasing injection drug use associated with America’s ongoing opioid crisis.

As community providers of health education and services, local health departments are on the front lines and play a vital role in addressing hepatitis through vaccination; testing and treatment; linkage to care; surveillance and outbreak response; and elimination strategy planning. However, addressing and reversing these trends will require a collaborative effort among health providers at every level. Coordinated engagement among local, state, federal, and national stakeholders is needed to develop partnerships that increase access to vulnerable, hard-to-reach populations and successfully implement effective, community-based, prevention and treatment strategies, including:

  • Expansion of hepatitis screening and linkage to care services;
  • Increased access to vaccines, especially for recommended at-risk populations;
  • Implementation of syringe services programs; and
  • Eradication of treatment barriers for people living with hepatitis.

Together, these strategies will help decrease transmission of HAV, HBV, and HCV, and increase treatment availability, which will save lives and money and decrease the burden on the nation’s health system.

NACCHO is committed to supporting local public health efforts and has developed several resources to build the capacity of local health departments to address viral hepatitis:

NACCHO Annual 2019: Improving the Nation’s Health through Public and Private Partnerships

By Taylarr Lopez, Communications Specialist, NACCHO

On July 9–11, over 1,300 local public health professionals gathered in Orlando for the 2019 NACCHO Annual Conference. Attendees participated in dozens of insightful sharing sessions, learned from leading experts, and discovered solutions to improve local public health in their communities.

This year’s theme, “Improving the Nation’s Health through Public and Private Partnerships,” focused specifically on how local public health professionals can build strong, effective cross-disciplinary partnerships. Each general session held its own focus, however; all echoed the importance of developing effective partnerships, addressing the social determinants of health, improving health equity, and telling compelling stories. Continue reading

Local Public Health Confronting Climate Change in Communities

By Kevin G. Sumner, MPH, NACCHO President and Health Officer and Director of the Middle-Brook Regional Health Commission in Green Brook, New Jersey

The effects of climate change are visible in communities across the country, from increasingly severe storms (e.g., the recent “bomb cyclone” in the Plains and Midwest) to more frequent wildfires, record-breaking floods, and prolonged heat waves. These extreme weather events and corresponding changes to the ecosystem threaten the public’s health.

As traditionally cooler regions experience warmer and longer summers, for example, mosquitoes and other vectors are migrating north and infecting populations previously not at risk. According to the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, vector-borne diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas, including Lyme disease and West Nile virus, tripled from 2004 to 2016. Continue reading

Advancing Health Equity and Racial Justice: Emerging Lessons from Los Angeles County’s Community Prevention and Population Health Taskforce

By Manal J. Aboelata, MPH, Deputy Executive Director, Prevention Institute

Across the country, local jurisdictions are employing a variety of tactics to achieve health equity and racial justice. In 2016, as Los Angeles County prepared to integrate the departments of mental health, public health, and health services under a single health agency umbrella, the Board of Supervisors recognized the value in creating an advisory body that would tap into the knowledge and expertise of community-based organizations and LA County residents to elevate priorities, challenges, and opportunities to eliminate gaps in public health outcomes through a focus on the determinants of health and wellbeing. This profile details the early days of the Taskforce, including its efforts to embed community-based health equity perspectives into county decision-making and center racial justice within its focus on health equity. It also outlines the critical role of the local public health department in supporting the Taskforce. The aim of this profile is to provide those in and outside of LA with a snapshot of this nascent effort and emergent lessons for those interested in addressing health equity and racial justice by forging stronger ties between local government decision-makers and diverse organizational and community-based interests. Though it’s too early to claim “success”, this profile sheds light on some of the formative experiences of the Taskforce to inform those interested in testing similar approaches elsewhere and provide background for those seeking to contribute to the effort underway in LA County. Continue reading

How Local Health Departments with Moderate Resources Can Increase Active Transportation

By Karin Valentine Goins, MPH, Program Director, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series covering the Capabilities for Public Health Agency Involvement in Land Use and Transportation Decision Making to Increase Active Transportation Opportunity from the UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center. Read the first post here. Continue reading

Faith-Based Community Establishes Church Policies to Battle Cardiovascular Disease Health Disparities in Omaha, Nebraska

Black churches are answering the call to action to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities associated with cardiovascular disease by establishing Policy, System and Environment (PSE) changes. Through an expanded partnership with the Omaha Million Hearts® 2022 in Municipalities Project, the Omaha faith-based community will be able to sustain efforts in reducing cardiovascular disease. Continue reading

Helping Hands for Houston: Disaster Relief and Recovery

As the flood waters continue to rise in Houston and rain batters New Orleans, NACCHO has put together a list of organizations accepting donations. As with any organization to whom people choose to donate, always do your own research before giving to any group; focus on local organizations with strong ties to the community; and demand accountability of the groups to which you donate. A good place to start when assessing a charity is Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org), an independent nonprofit that evaluates how well organizations perform financially and how efficiently they use the donations they receive. Some Houston charities involved with response and recovery are as follows, and thanks to Dylan Scott at Voxfor the information: Continue reading