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2022: Environmental Health Year in Review

Jan 04, 2023 | Anu Varma

Our Collective Impact

Last year, the Environmental Health Team is proud to have fielded contracts with a net worth of $1.017M dollars in service of our members, with $150,195 being funded to local health departments (LHDs) directly as contracts/sub awards.

We amplified members’ work in the field through conference presentations while also relaying best practices and lessons learned through journal articles and in the form of 142 NACCHO-branded publications, blogs, press releases, stories from the field—inviting 20,000+ visitors to view this content on NACCHO’s Environmental Health webpages.

View our infographic below detailing full impact or click here to download a copy.

CY2022 EH Impact Infographic Final Image

Meeting Members Where They Are

While we held regular workgroup meetings in Climate Change, Environmental Public Health, Vector Control, Food Safety, and Foodborne Illness Outbreak Community of Practice to enable member representatives to set field guidance and connect with peers, 2022 marked the first year since the pandemic that staff traveled to conferences to present on funded- and deliverable-based work, amounting to 16 presentations made at national and regional conferences in the U.S., including National Environmental Health Association’s Annual Educational Conference and American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting, in addition to our own. We also afforded 60 travel scholarships to NACCHO members to attend and present at the same conferences and meetings.

Historically managed by NACCHO since 2010, the Retail Program Standards Mentorship Program has connected retail food regulatory program practitioners who are experienced in the Retail Program Standards with those who are newly enrolled and looking for assistance, resources, and recommendations for achieving a specific standard. Last fall, we convened our first in-person meeting of nearly 70 local health representatives, federal partners, and association collaborators who participated in the Mentorship Program based on the new funding model provided by the NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model Grant Program in Denver, CO. This meeting provided participating LHDs with various opportunities to share their work, collaborate on novel products and ideas, and connect with federal regulators.

Our food safety team hosted the FDA’s Retail Food Protection Seminar in 2022 with a focus on norovirus, enabling 2,000+ federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners to tune in virtually to discuss retail food issues of mutual concern.

Climate change was a focal point at our conferences last year, with NACCHO’s Annual Conference hosting a dedicated conference track for this subject, including an interactive Town Hall and a Climate for Health Ambassador’s Training on site.

Shaping the Narrative of Local Environmental Health

Throughout the year, NACCHO staff and members positioned themselves as advocates and thought-leaders in the national media spotlight, citing the need to weave climate preparedness into existing local health infrastructure to generating interest for wastewater surveillance to be used as a tool to detect viruses beyond COVID-19.

Our findings from the 2020 national vector control and surveillance assessment of local health departments were used by public health agencies to advocate in Congress for increased investments in this area, and we sat down with our food safety workgroup members to identify the best ways to improve emergency food safety practices coming out of the global crisis that is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our team reviewed the Lancet Countdown U.S. Policy Brief on climate change and health in 2022, commissioned a first-of-its-kind study on wastewater surveillance research via the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and helped direct the strategic pathway of the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response, a multidisciplinary collaboration of national associations and federal agencies working together since 2006 to improve methods to detect, investigate, control and prevent foodborne disease outbreaks.

For a full list of the team’s accomplishments from 2022, view our Programs Factsheet.

Looking Ahead...

We are committed to helping our local environmental health staff get further in 2023 with exciting new grant opportunities in climate change, vector control, food safety, and more.

Our policy statements are the foundation that defines how NACCHO services LHDs’ environmental health needs so be sure to check them out!

P.S.: We updated our climate change policy statement last year to demonstrate the urgency of LHDs to address this issue at the local level.

To keep in touch with our work, visit naccho.org/programs/environmental-health.

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About Anu Varma

Pronouns: She/Her

Anupama Varma is a Communications Specialist for Environmental Health at NACCHO.

More posts by Anu Varma

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