RWJF Public Health is covering the ASTHO conference online
28 October

2:10 pm View comments

2010 ASTHO Meeting: Podcast with Eduardo Sanchez

Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., a past president of the ASTHO Alumni Society talks about advocacy opportunities for former state health officers.

28 October

2:06 pm View comments

2010 ASTHO Meeting: Podcast with Eduardo Sanchez

Eduardo Sanchez, M.D, M.P.H., former president of the ASTHO Alumni Society, reviews a panel discussion on maximizing opportunities for population health in health reform at the 2010 ASTHO Annual Meeting.

27 October

11:55 am View comments

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officers awarded Howard Koh, M.D., M.P.H., HHS Assistant Secretary of Health, the association’s 2010 Alumni award at their annual meeting in Colorado Spring in October. The award is presented to a former chief state health official who has shown a continued commitment to public health. Listen to Dr. Koh’s video remarks shown at the annual meeting.

27 October

9:45 am View comments

2010 ASTHO Meeting: Podcast with Paul Jarris, ASTHO
Paul Jarris, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers talks about budget cuts and service delivery at the ASTHO 2010 annual meeting.

25 October

12:48 pm View comments

John Auerbach, ASTHO president and commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, closed the meeting with a short talk about the promotion of health equity.

Auerbach gave state health leaders several specific recommendations for ensuring health equity within their own departments and jurisdictions, including:

•    Hiring diverse leadership
•    Focusing attention on the issue at the highest levels
•    Issuing special reports to highlight inequities and disparities among different populations (a report pulled together from available data in Mass.  On HIV in Blacks and Latinos resulted in $500,000 from the legislature.)
•    Ensure that sure culturally appropriate services are being provided
•    provide funding where possible
•    Develop targeted health education campaigns (Auerbach shared the example of a “Pink Isn’t the only color associated with breast cancer” campaign in his state that resulted in higher rates of Black women seeking mammograms.)

At the upcoming American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting, November 6-10 in Denver, ASTHO will be partnering with APHA to convene a summit of public health leaders working to improve health equity. Discussion among the invited panel members, which will include Auerbach and ASTHO Executive Director Paul Jarris, M.D., will focus on how current health equity strategies can build on and continue the work in health equity taking place at state and local levels. Leading off the session will be Howard Koh, M.D., M.P.H., assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Join the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for coverage of this and other key APHA sessions. http://www.rwjf.org/publichealth/

Follow our coverage on twitter of the 2010 APHA Conference: http://twitter.com/#!/RWJF_PubHealth

25 October

12:47 pm View comments

The synergy of public health and health care was the focus of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Thomas R. Frieden’s closing keynote address at this week’s ASTHO Annual Meeting. Frieden listed several current challenges for health departments, including the fiscal crisis, the increasing cost and complexity of medical care, emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, the growing burden of non-communicable diseases and emergency preparedness and response.

Frieden noted that 83 percent of state health departments cut jobs—a total of 15,000 positions—in 2009 and 2010. 

"Strengthening health departments is a priority for CDC," said Frieden. 

Frieden stressed that per capita health care costs can be reduced through prevention. Referencing the CDC’s six winnable battles,” the term CDC has recently coined to describe public health priorities that can have a large-scale impact, Frieden said results can be achieved in 1-4 years “but it won’t be easy.”

Frieden noted that the CDC of course cares about other areas beyond the winnable battles, but pushed the health directors to remember “when you think of others, we ask that you ask, what’s the win?”

Echoing some of the information available on the CDC Web site, Frieden said that the following efforts can make a difference when it comes to reducing the death and disease caused by tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:

•    Increasing prices on products
•    Promoting evidence-based policies
•    Supporting 100 percent smoke- free environments
•    Utilizing aggressive earned and paid media that illustrates an anti-tobacco message
•    Assisting with Food and Drug Administration regulations
And when it comes to nutrition, physical activity, obesity and food safety, Frieden advised health directors to advocate for:
•    Changing environments to promote healthy food
•    Addressing food procurement
•    Improving food-borne illness detection
•    Piloting programs to standardize outbreak response

Frieden also noted the evidence-based interventions that work to prevent motor vehicle accidents (another winnable battle) including reducing drunk driving, increasing the use of seat belts and child restraints, reducing highway speed and implementing graduated licenses. He added the need to protect vulnerable road users such as bikers and joggers.

On reducing teenage pregnancy, Frieden cited increasing access to reproductive health services, reducing cost barriers to family planning services and working to change social norms—making it “not okay for kids to have kids.”

To prevent new HIV infections and reduce the spread of the disease, Frieden said health officials need to increase HIV testing to reach all Americans, increase linkages to health care and increase availability of condoms.

"Rally resources and partnerships in public health efforts," urged Frieden, "and communicate about successes and challenges."

Focusing on health reform, Frieden advised health departments to be “honest brokers” with a focus on indicator tracking and participation in insurance exchanges and accountable care organizations.

Finally, Frieden referred to the Affordable Care Act as an unprecedented opportunity to promote prevention. “This is our lifeline and it is under attack, and we need everyone to be defending it.”

Crucial to the effort is a sustained funding stream for prevention, he said. That would give state and local health departments the potential to get billions of dollars in assistance.

Prevention, noted Frieden, is the best buy in public health.

22 October

3:21 pm View comments

2010 ASTHO Meeting: Podcast with Josh Sharfstein

FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Josh Sharfstein, M.D., discusses his agency’s goal of having all 600 large egg farms inspected by the end of calendar year 2011 and graphic health warnings on cigarette packages by September of 2012.

Listen to a podcast with Dr. Sharfstein on the crucial relationship between the FDA and state health officers.

22 October

2:33 pm View comments

2010 ASTHO Meeting: Podcast with John Auerbach

John Auerbach, ASTHO President and Commission of Public Health for Massachussets announced his 2011 President’s Challenge—Promoting Health Equity. The featured speaker at that session was Garth Graham, M.D., deputy assistant secretary for health in the office of Minority Health, at the Department of Health and Human Services. Graham announced that a report on health disparities will be released by the department by the end of 2010. Listen to a podcast with John Auerbach about his President’s Challenge.

22 October

11:02 am View comments

Susan R. Cooper, M.S.N., R.N., Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health on strategic state partnerships.

22 October

11:00 am View comments

Alvin D. Jackson, M.D., Director of the Ohio Department of Health talks about new opportunities to collaborate in public health communities.