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Public health laws serve as a vital intervention to reduce the negative health effects and costs of tobacco use. Less than two months into 2018, ASTHO is already tracking close to 300 pieces of legislation that impact tobacco control efforts.Read More »

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New Jersey Health Commissioner Shares Vision for Public Health in the Garden State

April 19, 2018|9:59 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Shereef Elnahal is commissioner of health for the New Jersey Department of Health. Elnahal previously served as Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Quality, Safety, and Value at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), where he initially held a White House fellowship in 2015. In this capacity, Elnahal founded the Diffusion of Excellence Initiative to establish consistency in clinical and administrative best practices. Elnahal is a licensed physician with a dual-degree MD and MBA from Harvard University. Read More »

State Legislatures Strengthen Policies to Screen and Treat Sexually Transmitted Diseases

April 19, 2018|9:55 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

On April 6, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed expedited partner therapy (EPT) legislation, which is only fitting, as April is STD awareness month. This year’s theme, “treat me right,” draws attention to the complementary roles, healthcare providers, and others play in addressing the growing problem of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in American communities. CDC estimates that each year there are at least 20 million new STD cases, and unfortunately, numbers have been trending in the wrong direction. Rates of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia increased between 2014 and 2016, with particularly concerning rises in cases of congenital syphilis, drug-resistant gonorrhea, and other STDs among young adults. Furthermore, funding to support evidence-based interventions has declined at federal, state, and local levels, leading to a decreased capacity in state and local health departments to identify and treat STD cases. Researchers estimate that STDs cost the United States 16 billion dollars in direct and healthcare costs annually. If left untreated, STDs can lead to increased rates of cervical and possibly ovarian cancer, as well as infertility and a host of other negative health outcomes. Read More »

FDA Announcements on Tobacco Products and What They Mean for Public Health

April 12, 2018|11:07 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

In March, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced three separate advanced notices of proposed rulemaking (ANPRMs) reducing nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes, regulating flavor in tobacco products, and adopting a different regulatory policy concerning premium cigars. These announcements, which ask the public to provide scientific research, data, and other information on the population health impacts of each potential tobacco policy by June, signal that the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products may, in the future, move to implement new tobacco product regulations under the authority given to it by 2009’s Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Lilian Peake

April 12, 2018|10:44 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Lilian Peake is director of public health of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). In this role, Peake provides overall strategic direction and leadership for the department’s public health division and ensures the delivery of appropriate, timely, and quality services in the department’s 77 public health service sites. . Read More »

ASTHO Shares Top Resources for State and Territorial Public Health Leaders

April 05, 2018|4:03 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

This week, ASTHO joins the American Public Health Association in celebrating National Public Health Week and in recognizing the great work happening across the nation to promote the public’s health and well-being. ASTHO supports, equips, and advocates for state and territorial health officials in their work to create the conditions for optimal health and protect America’s health security. Read More »

2018 State Legislation Addressing Naloxone

April 05, 2018|10:47 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Over the past few years, several states have expanded access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. Many of these efforts include allowing prescribers to write naloxone prescriptions for third parties (e.g., friends and family members of those who are at risk of an opioid overdose) and permitting pharmacists to dispense or distribute naloxone without a patient-specific prescription, usually through a standing order, protocol, collaborative practice agreement, prescriptive authority, or direct legislative authority. With naloxone being such an important tool in countering overdose deaths during the current opioid epidemic, ASTHO is tracking state legislative activity impacting access to it. Below is a brief summary of legislation enacted this year that addresses the availability and dispensing of naloxone. Read More »

Massachusetts Sees Encouraging Decline in Overdose Deaths

April 05, 2018|10:25 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts declined in 2017 by an estimated 8.3 percent compared to 2016. This is encouraging news, since it’s the first time in several years that Massachusetts has seen a year over year decline in overdose deaths. ASTHO spoke with Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, about how the state is reducing overdose deaths in underserved populations, training medical students on preventing and managing substance use disorders, and navigating the continuing challenges associated with this epidemic. Read More »

Public Health’s Role in Large-Scale Events: How Guam Prepared for the 2016 Festival of Pacific Arts

April 03, 2018|3:00 p.m.| Health Security Team

As evident in last month’s Winter Olympics, public health plays a vital role to ensure the safety of all attendees, prevent dangerous infectious disease outbreaks, and prepare for any potential threats. Public health and governmental agencies must work together to prepare prior to and during large-scale international events to help ensure the health and well-being of all attendees. Read More »

State Lawmakers Propose Studying Effectiveness of Ibogaine for Treating Opioid Use Disorders

March 29, 2018|10:36 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Throughout this year’s state legislative sessions, legislatures continue to pass and enact laws aimed at improving treatment and recovery options for substance use disorders, particularly opioid addiction. For example, Utah’s governor signed HB 99, which authorizes the state’s division of substance abuse and mental health to establish training and certification requirements for providing peer supports services to individuals with a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. The division is to develop rules for the types of services a peer support specialist may provide, as well as the supervision and continuing education requirements for peer support specialists. Read More »

Six Ways States Can Promote Colorectal Cancer Screening and Prevention

March 28, 2018|5:03 p.m.| Marcus Plescia, MD and Richard Wender, MD

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among Americans, but it is largely preventable through screening and attention to risk factors. State health agencies have a long history of using evidence-based public health approaches to increase colorectal cancer screening rates and partnering with health systems and other national organizations, like the American Cancer Society, to reduce major risk factors. In recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, ASTHO Chief Medical Officer Marcus Plescia and Richard Wender, the American Cancer Society’s chief cancer control officer, identified six ways states can address colorectal cancer. Read More »

Early Brain Development: A Keystone for Health Equity

March 27, 2018|11:46 a.m.| Community Health and Prevention Team

Healthy early childhood brain development is critical to achieving important social, behavioral, and educational milestones. State and territorial health departments, federal agencies, and other national partner organizations are increasingly taking steps to support healthy brain development at the earliest stages of life. Public health leaders can implement and support the development and use of evidence-based best practices in programs and policies to promote optimal early childhood brain development for all. Read More »

ASTHO Immediate Past President Jay Butler Reflects on 2018 Washington Week

March 22, 2018|4:20 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Last week, ASTHO hosted its 2018 Washington Week, convening state and territorial health officials in the nation’s capital to make the case for public health funding, advocate for additional resources to address the opioid epidemic, and meet with federal partners and leadership at HHS and the White House. ASTHO spoke with Immediate Past President Jay Butler (SHO-AK) about key takeaways following the week’s events. Read More »

Reducing the Stigma of Substance Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment

March 22, 2018|2:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In a 1923 speech to the Royal College of Surgeons, Rudyard Kipling remarked, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. Not only do words infect, ergotise, nacotise, and paralyse, but they enter into and colour the minutest cells of the brain.” As public health practitioners and policymakers continue to grapple with the effects of yet another powerful drug—opioids—Kipling’s insight into the influence of words is a reminder of how the terms and phrases we use can stigmatize the diagnoses and treatment of substance use disorders (SUD). . Read More »

States Explore Bills to Address Contraceptive Access in 2018

March 15, 2018|2:59 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Healthy People 2020 sets out national goals and science-based objectives to improve the lives and wellbeing of all Americans. One of the goals is to increase the proportion of women at risk of an unintended pregnancy and their partners who use contraception. State policymakers can leverage laws, regulations, and other policies to promote access to contraception in support of that goal. Read More »

Minnesota’s Game Plan for Super Bowl LII Ensures the Public’s Health and Safety

March 15, 2018|1:10 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Jan Malcolm is commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, where she previously served as commissioner from 1999-2003. Prior to her second appointment in January 2018, Malcolm was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She has also worked as a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, president of the Courage Kenny Foundation, and vice president of public affairs and philanthropy at Allina Health. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College. Read More »

Public Health Leaders Connect to Strengthen State and Federal Relations

March 14, 2018|5:14 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

On March 14, ASTHO hosted a workshop on leadership in government as part of this year’s Washington Week, convening more than two dozen state and territorial health officials for discussions on developing a deeper understanding of how federal organizations, processes, systems, and relationships related to public health work and how to interact effectively with government representatives and organizations. Read More »

ASTHO’s Government Affairs Chief Previews Washington Week and Shares Advice

March 08, 2018|3:52 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Next week, ASTHO is hosting its annual Washington Week to provide state and territorial health officials with opportunities to meet with various federal leaders and inform policymakers about public health priorities in their jurisdictions. ASTHO’s chief of government affairs, Carolyn Mullen, shares her thoughts on what ASTHO’s members and other public health leaders can expect. Read More »

State and Federal Legislation Surrounding Initial Opioid Prescriptions

March 08, 2018|3:38 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Late last month, a bill to address issues around the current opioid epidemic was introduced in Congress. The CARA 2.0 Act of 2018 includes provisions for neonatal abstinence syndrome, first responder training, expanding access to medication assisted treatment, and more. Another of the provisions would establish a three-day limit for the initial prescription of opioids for acute pain based on the CDC’s recommended guidelines for treatment of acute pain. Exceptions to the limit include: prescriptions for chronic pain, cancer treatment, end of life and hospice care, as well as substance use treatment medications. By the time the federal legislation was introduced, almost half of states had enacted laws or adopted rules dictating the length (or dosage) of initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain. Read More »

Project ECHO Uses Telehealth to Improve Population Health: What’s Next for States?

March 07, 2018|5:14 p.m.| Emily Moore

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a virtual learning and training model that uses video teleconferencing to enable access to high-quality healthcare for underserved people all over the world. Founded at the University of New Mexico, Project ECHO’s goal is to touch the lives of one billion people by 2025. Read More »

State Legislation Surrounding Vaccine Exemptions

March 01, 2018|4:38 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Last week, the New York State Department of Health warned of potential exposure to measles in New York City and surrounding counties. According to the announcement, an Australian tourist with a confirmed case of measles visited several hotels, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other venues in the area. While the risk of developing measles is very low, especially for those who have been immunized, it is highly contagious. According to CDC, “if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.” The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine can prevent measles and, with few exceptions, is required by state law for children entering school. Read More »

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