Press Room

ASTHO Celebrates 75 Years of Public Health Leadership

ARLINGTON, VA (March 23, 2017) — Today the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) celebrates its 75th anniversary and recognizes the significant achievements of its members who have been at the forefront of promoting and protecting the public’s health for decades.

Many defining moments make up ASTHO’s rich history, including its work supporting responses to the H1N1 pandemic, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the Ebola outbreak, and the proliferation of Zika virus. These events solidified ASTHO’s ability to convene and leverage an extensive network of state and territorial health officials and other partners when urgent public health challenges call for decisive leadership.

“While ASTHO has been involved in virtually every significant public health crisis since the mid-20th century, the association remains focused on the long-term needs of the public health system,” says Michael Fraser, executive director of ASTHO. “Members must operate effectively in today’s environment, which demands greater attention to the social determinants of health, emphasizes population health, and requires an integrated, multi-sectoral approach to health—all while facing steep funding cuts to core public health services and infrastructure.”

ASTHO was incorporated on March 23, 1942, with the mission of helping health officials navigate a rapidly changing public health landscape and to this day remains a strong voice in governmental public health. ASTHO’s mission is both focused and flexible: transforming public health within states and territories to help members dramatically improve health and wellness.

State and territorial health officials have been exceptional leaders and champions for improving Americans’ health and well-being by preventing chronic diseases, responding to emerging health threats, safeguarding the nation’s food and water supply, and fostering innovation in our healthcare delivery system. Since 2008, each incoming ASTHO president has issued a President’s Challenge to call attention to our nation’s most pressing and unmet public health problems. Through these initiatives, state and territorial health officials have taken multifaceted approaches leading to significant policy changes in their jurisdictions resulting in lower rates of preterm birth and infant mortality, fewer prescription drug overdose deaths, and greater cross-sector leadership to promote optimal health for all.

This year, ASTHO will continue to build on its successes with a focus on legislative activities, convening and supporting health officials as transformational leaders, building public health capacity, and elevating the visibility of state and territorial health agencies. ASTHO also plans to launch a virtual technical assistance series, assembling national experts for its members to address complex public health priorities, such as substance misuse and addiction.

On Sept. 20-21, ASTHO will host its annual meeting and 75th anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C., recognizing the achievements of state and territorial public health agencies.

ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in state-based public health practice.

###