Sunday, January 23, 2022
HomeHealthRebuild California's decimated public health workforce

Rebuild California’s decimated public health workforce

Vowing that California would never face a crisis again without a robust public health system, the Legislature last year approved a $ 300 million annual increase in funding for the public health agencies that are our front lines. in the fight against communicable diseases and the prevention of chronic diseases.

There was just one catch: the funding wouldn’t start until this year.

The year of public health funding has finally arrived. And in case anyone thinks that the evidence for the need is now reduced, the rise of the omicron variant of COVID-19 has dispelled such thoughts.

It’s time for lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom to keep their promise to rebuild our decimated public health workforce and infrastructure so that we can continue to fight the spread of COVID – and be ready for the next public health crisis before it comes. ‘she doesn’t knock.

Last year’s budget agreement was a major step towards rebuilding our defenses against disease, but the needs are great. This year, with a budget surplus of tens of billions of dollars, lawmakers and the governor must look ahead and plan to provide Californians with a public health system that is not only adequate, but second to none.

The COVID crisis has taught a lesson that must never be unlearned: when our public health infrastructure is allowed to deteriorate, lives are needlessly lost.

The investments that were made last year – and are to be delivered this year – will begin to reverse a decade of declining funding for local health services that has slowed our response to COVID-19 and allowed devastating inequities to persist in health matters.

While the fight against COVID-19 through testing, vaccinations, education, contact tracing and other means remains at the forefront in the delivery of public health services, other diseases do not have not given in to the virus that dominates the news.

The pandemic has not slowed down – and, indeed, due to the reduction in testing may have accelerated – a disturbing, years-long increase in sexually transmitted diseases, among others. Previously undiagnosed chronic diseases including diabetes are revealed as people undergo treatment for COVID-19.

County agencies across the state are called upon to protect and promote public health in multiple ways: preventing childhood illnesses. Maternal and child health. Prevention of smoking. Management and prevention of chronic diseases. Detection of lead poisoning. HIV / AIDS screening and treatment. None of these can be overlooked, even as the public health response to COVID-19 continues.

In addition to revealing the disheartening results of past inadequate public health spending, the pandemic has taught us other lessons. In the pursuit of more equitable service delivery, best practices have been refined.

Local public health services have carried out awareness-raising and education activities among historically underserved populations, many in partnership with community organizations. Local public health units coordinate the efforts and resources of community organizations to ensure that investments are maximized, reach areas of greatest need, and eliminate redundancies.

Increased investments will enable local public health agencies that are mandated to provide services and held accountable for performance results to expand and strengthen these partnerships, using the data to deploy resources and strategies to meet health needs. of all communities.

We know that with the rise of the omicron variant and the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the unvaccinated, the COVID crisis is far from over. Local public health agencies, although tired after nearly two years of fighting the contagion, have pledged to redouble their efforts to slow its spread.

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