Capitol Building

More Than 9 in 10 Americans Are Endangered by the Underfunding of Local Public Health

Aug 27, 2020 | Theresa Spinner

New Infographic Highlights Critical Role of Local Health Departments to Emergency Preparedness and Response

Washington, DC, August 27, 2020 —The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the voice of the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health departments, has released an infographic that illustrates the critical role of local health departments in protecting communities from public health threats such as COVID-19, as well as challenges cause by insufficient resources and investments in public health.

Local health department staff are frontline responders to public health emergencies, carrying out key activities like monitoring disease outbreaks, coordinating resources with healthcare partners, and educating and sharing credible information with the public. However, they do this critical work before a backdrop of budget and staffing cuts that limit the operating capacity of preparedness and response. As demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, this means local health departments are often forced to shift resources from other pressing public health activities – such as immunization, HIV, STI and hepatitis programs, food safety, overdose prevention and response, and vector control – to adapt to the demands of emergencies.

Local health departments have a mission to protect all aspects of public health, but unfortunately, they are continually forced to deprioritize one issue for the sake of another. Inadequate resources endanger local health departments’ ability to protect the public’s health and safety.

Key findings:

  • More than 9 in 10 Americans are endangered by the underfunding of local public health. 312 million people in the U.S. live in jurisdictions with stagnant or reduced budgets for local health department preparedness and response activities.
  • An overwhelming majority of local health departments are on the front lines of emergency response. 95% of Local health departments conduct activities to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies.
  • 2 in 3 local health departments have not received funding increases needed to optimally protect public health. 65% of Local health departments reported experiencing flat funding or cuts to their overall operations last year, and 81% reported this for preparedness and response funding specifically.
  • 3 in 4 local health departments rely on volunteers. 76% of Local health departments reported using volunteers to respond to public health incidents.
  • 2 in 3 local health departments have to divert staff for emergency response. 64% of local health departments involve non-preparedness and response staff in response activities, stretching the already limited workforce. Unfortunately, this is not a sustainable model during long-term responses like that of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, and beyond COVID-19, local health departments need ongoing support in a number of areas including:

  • Robust and stable funding that can be applied flexibly.
  • Cross-sector engagement between public health, healthcare, and response organizations.
  • Resources for workforce development that promote cross-training.
  • Access to tailored tools, best practices, and lessons learned to guide preparedness planning and response activities.

Additional data related to these issues can be found in NACCHO’s full 2019 Profile of Local Health Departments and Local Health Department Capacity to Prepare for and Respond to Public Health Threats.

Local health departments and other members of the public health preparedness community are currently meeting virtually to share their experiences, learn from others, and mobilize the field to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and the many other threats to public health and health security at the 2020 Preparedness Summit. Members of the media can contact Theresa Spinner to request free access to this conference, including recorded sessions, being held virtually August 25-27.

# # #

About NACCHO
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. For more information about NACCHO, please visit www.naccho.org


National association of county and city health officials naccho squarelogo

About Theresa Spinner

Theresa Spinner is the Director, Media and Public Relations at NACCHO.

More posts by Theresa Spinner

Related Posts

53559808328 f4b32fb806 w

2024 Local Public Health on the Hill

On February 28, 2024, local public health leaders from across the country...

Mar 01, 2024 | Victoria Van de Vate

2024 Local Public Health on the Hill

Congress

Rescissions: An Explainer

As part of Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations negotiations, you may have seen news...

Jan 12, 2024 | Victoria Van de Vate

Rescissions: An Explainer

I Stock 637189564
  • Policy

Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing with...

On Thursday, November 30, 2023, the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and...

Dec 08, 2023 | Dalia Karadsheh

Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing with...

Cdc flu qa nivw
  • Tools & Resources
  • COVID-19
  • Immunization
  • Influenza

National Influenza Vaccination Week - #FightFlu:...

National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is a reminder to all Americans six...

Dec 04, 2023 | Victoria Thompson, Clarissa Montes

National Influenza Vaccination Week - #FightFlu:...

Pexels trev adams 12504957

Updates on House FY2024 Labor-Health and Human Services...

Last week, the House released their report for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024...

Nov 17, 2023 | Lauren Mastroberardino, Victoria Van de Vate

Updates on House FY2024 Labor-Health and Human Services...

US Washington Capitol At Night

Senate Appropriations Committee Advances Labor-HHS...

On July 27, the Senate Appropriations Committee considered the Fiscal Year (FY)...

Jul 28, 2023 | Lauren Mastroberardino

Senate Appropriations Committee Advances Labor-HHS...

Solen feyissa Sg UXQMDXD g unsplash
  • Policy

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and...

Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee advanced the draft of their...

Jul 27, 2023 | Lauren Mastroberardino

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and...

Harold mendoza 6xaf Y AE1 LM unsplash
  • Policy

House Energy and Commerce Full Committee Markup on...

On July 19, the House Energy and Commerce full committee met to markup 15...

Jul 27, 2023 | Lluvia Botello

House Energy and Commerce Full Committee Markup on...

Congress
  • Policy

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee PAHPA...

On July 13, the House Energy and commerce Health Subcommittee met to markup 17...

Jul 27, 2023 | Lucas Coyle, Lauren Mastroberardino

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee PAHPA...

Back to Top