Featured Story

FeaturedStory

November 15 is the Great American Smokeout, an event that the American Cancer Society has hosted for over 40 years every third Thursday of November. It began in the 1970s when smoking and secondhand smoke were more common and has since helped dramatically change Americans’ attitudes about tobacco. In the wake of new data that shows cigarette smoking among adults is at an all-time low, this year’s observance is an opportunity to both reflect on a major public health success story and look ahead at new policy and systems change strategies to reduce the harmful health effects of all tobacco products on the market. Read More »

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As Awareness Around the Importance of Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity Increases, State Legislation Follows Suit

February 14, 2019|10:37 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Policymakers are increasingly recognizing evidence regarding the role that the social determinants of health play in shaping individual and community wellness, health outcomes, and healthcare spending. Public health officials are well positioned to advance population health by creating policy, building partnerships across sectors, and advocating for community-defined priorities. State legislatures are also becoming increasingly active in this space. Read More »

Matters of the Heart and Mind

February 14, 2019|10:24 a.m.| Marcus Plescia MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer

Many of the activities that protect our hearts also protect our minds. This is particularly true for heart health. We’ve known for some time that preventive and medical interventions can reduce the risk of strokes. However, recent studies have shown that lifestyle modifications and medical treatments are associated with slowing cognitive impairment and lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Read More »

Measles Outbreaks and School Exclusions: Public Health’s Authority to Protect Children and Stop the Spread of Disease

February 07, 2019|1:12 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As they work to improve the health of tomorrow, today’s public health officials are increasingly occupied with the diseases of yesterday. For example, cases of measles, a highly contagious disease that was once a constant presence in the United States, have increased over the past several years, despite the ready availability of a highly effective vaccine (i.e., the MMR vaccine). Read More »

Preparedness in the Caribbean: A Conversation with Danny Staley

February 07, 2019|9:06 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Danny Staley (alumnus-NC) is chief of ASTHO’s Caribbean Operations. He previously served as director of the North Carolina Division of Public Health. Staley began his career in public health in 1992 after graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in health education, followed by a master’s degree in community health administration and wellness promotion. Read More »

State Legislation Aimed at Preventing Hepatitis A Outbreaks Linked to Illicit Drug Use

January 31, 2019|4:56 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Since 2017, several states have experienced hepatitis A outbreaks. Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease that can be spread through close personal contact with an infected person (e.g., via sexual intercourse, or sharing of personal items) or when a person eats food that is contaminated with the virus. In 2016, the last year with available data, there were an estimated 2,007 hepatitis A cases in the United States. However, even though the data for 2017 and 2018 cases are not yet available, CDC expects the incidence of hepatitis A to increase due ongoing outbreaks. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination and good hygiene (i.e. thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food). Read More »

ASTHO Speaks to CDC’s Stephen Redd as Atlanta Prepares for Super Bowl LIII

January 31, 2019|4:11 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Stephen Redd is CDC's Deputy Director for Public Health Service and Implementation Science and director of the Center for Preparedness and Response. He served as CDC’s acting principal deputy director from January to March 2018. Prior to this, Redd served as director of CDC’s Influenza Coordination Unit. During the H1N1 pandemic, he served as Incident Commander for the nearly yearlong response. Redd is a Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General in the United States Public Health Service. . Read More »

Three Things to Know About the Governmental Public Health Workforce: PH WINS 2017 Results

January 29, 2019|3:55 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

State health agencies and local health departments serve a critical role in promoting and protecting the health of all people in their jurisdictions and the communities in which they live, learn, work, and play. The workforce in state and local health departments is essential in preventing disease, promoting health and well-being, protecting communities, and building partnerships with other sectors to advance health. Read More »

Improving Public Health Surveillance Through Interoperability, Data Standards, and Legislation

January 24, 2019|2:13 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Emerging infectious diseases and natural disasters, as well as the ever-increasing prevalence of chronic disease, greatly increases the need for public health agencies to have more comprehensive knowledge of patients’ health coupled with an understanding of how to appropriately use technology. As patients move around the healthcare ecosystem, information from electronic health records (EHRs) must be available and understandable to help public health agencies identify threats to the health and safety of the population, as well as individuals. EHRs have also afforded patients better access to their own information and provided them with the opportunity to exercise some independence when making decisions for their own healthcare. Read More »

Using Evidence to Improve Public Health Outcomes

January 24, 2019|12:08 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As public health practitioners strive to achieve optimal health for all, they seek to implement proven and cost-effective policies and practices that maximize scarce resources. One method for determining what is effective entails assessing the evidence base for a particular approach. Because accessing and understanding research literature can require technical expertise in research methods, access to the literature, and considerable time investments, multiple registries have been developed that assess the research evidence and translate the findings so that policymakers and practitioners can identify evidence-based approaches—that is, programs, practices, and policies with evidence of favorable effects. Read More »

Improving Population Health by Modernizing the Implementation of Clinical Guidelines

January 24, 2019|11:48 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO worked with Maria Michaels, public health advisor for CDC’s Deputy Director of Public Health Science and Surveillance, to capture key considerations for state and territorial public health agencies to improve population health by modernizing their implementation of clinical guidelines. Michaels’ background has covered a variety of perspectives, including research, federal health IT regulatory policy, national health IT program implementation, health system health IT program implementation, and public health strategies related to health IT. Below Michaels and ASTHO staff outline how public health agencies can better intersect with healthcare to help ensure that clinical guidelines are implemented as intended and result in the desired health actions and outcomes. Read More »

State Legislation Supporting Increased Breastfeeding Duration

January 17, 2019|12:03 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Breastfeeding is known to have health benefits for both mothers and babies, including reduced risks of asthma and obesity for babies and a lower risk of high blood pressure and breast cancer for mothers. Unfortunately, barriers such as a lack of support from a woman’s partner, family, hospital, or worksite, can make it difficult for some women to breastfeed through their baby’s first year. Read More »

The Vital Role of State Primary Care Offices: Ensuring Access to Quality Care

January 10, 2019|3:06 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Ensuring access to competent primary care is an essential function of state and territorial health agencies. Research findings indicate that access to regular primary care is associated with higher rates of receiving preventive care and lower rates of preventable emergency department visits. To improve access to primary care in their jurisdiction, state and territorial health officials rely on their state primary care offices (PCO) to coordinate and execute this systems-level work. Read More »

New Year, New Call to Action

January 10, 2019|10:53 a.m.| Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH | ASTHO chief medical officer

The recent release of the second edition of the "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans" is timely. A goal to be more physically fit is a common New Year’s resolution. Given the increasing evidence cited in the report for both the immediate and long-term impact of physical activity on the public’s health, the guidelines are an opportunity for state and territorial health departments to examine and revise their efforts to increase participation in physical activity across the nation. Read More »

2018 Public Health Law and Policy Review

January 03, 2019|10:47 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

States addressed several public health issues last year, including opioids, immunizations, tobacco, and injury prevention. Before the 2019 state legislative sessions kick into high gear, here’s a quick look at some of the public health law and policy activities from 2018. Read More »

ASTHO’s Year in Review: Organizational Successes and Outlook for 2019

December 20, 2018|10:28 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

With 2018 coming to a close and a new year around the corner, ASTHO asked members of its leadership team to reflect on successes from the past year and share what they hope to accomplish next. Here is what they had to say. Read More »

Leadership in Performance Management and Quality Improvement

December 20, 2018|10:16 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO spoke with Susan Ramsey, business owner and managing consultant of Pearls of Wisdom Consulting, based in Olympia, WA. Her background includes more than 25 years in public service for the state of Washington, where she served as the director for the office of performance and accountability at the Washington State Department of Health. Below Ramsey describes what she has learned over the course of her career, what it takes to implement effective PM/QI initiatives, and how public health leaders can enhance their impact in this field. Read More »

Medicaid Policy: 2018 in Review

December 19, 2018|4:01 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Medicaid policies at both the federal and state levels continued to evolve in 2018, with an increasing federal emphasis on state flexibility and budget neutrality for demonstration waivers as well as a wider uptake of Medicaid expansion among the states. States are also pursuing new policies related to community engagement and improving access to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. Presented below are several key takeaways and insights concerning Medicaid policies in 2018. Read More »

ASTHO Member Spotlight: Norman Oliver

December 12, 2018|4:57 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Norman Oliver, MD, MA, is state health commissioner of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). Prior to this, Oliver served as the department’s deputy commissioner for population health. Oliver was previously the Walter M. Seward Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. As state health commissioner, Oliver is committed to a cross-agency and multi-sector approach to implementing population health initiatives, with a long record of accomplishments in research and community health work related to health disparities. Read More »

State Legislation to Improve Flu Vaccination Rates

December 12, 2018|3:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Last week, CDC celebrated National Influenza Vaccination Week to bring awareness to the importance of the flu vaccine. CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months, unless advised otherwise by their healthcare provider, get an annual flu vaccine. Getting the flu vaccine not only reduces the risks of getting the flu but also lowers the risk of hospitalization and missing school or work and helps to protect those at the greatest risk of suffering flu-related complications, such as young children, older adults, and pregnant women. Read More »

The Intersection of Health and Housing: CMS’s Potential Medicaid Investments

December 06, 2018|10:03 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Emerging evidence indicates that affordable, safe, and stable housing directly impacts an individual’s health and wellbeing, including the ability to manage chronic diseases and mental conditions, maintain personal hygiene, access education and employment, and build healthy relationships. Individuals experiencing homelessness face illness at three to six times the rate of housed individuals and are three to four times more likely to prematurely die than the general population. Furthermore, conditions like asthma can be exacerbated by poorly maintained housing conditions, and neighborhood conditions can inhibit an individual’s ability to support a healthy lifestyle. Read More »

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