Featured Story

FeaturedStory

ASTHO launched a social media campaign to showcase successful public health initiatives and outcomes from every state, U.S. territory, and freely associated state. Visit our website to view the full collection of successes featured in the campaign as part of ASTHO’s 75th anniversary.Read More »

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Member Spotlight: John Wiesman

January 11, 2018|4:09 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

John Wiesman is president of ASTHO and secretary of health for the Washington State Department of Health. The department of health in Washington is a cabinet-level agency in a decentralized state, with 35 local, independent health departments governed by their own boards of health and more than 1,700 employees overseeing public health areas such as: disease control and epidemiology, health promotion, vital statistics, environmental public health, state public health laboratories, health professions and facility licensing, rural health, and emergency preparedness and response. Read More »

Emergency Declarations in Eight States to Address the Opioid Epidemic

January 11, 2018|3:55 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

South Carolina and Pennsylvania recently joined Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Alaska, Virginia, and Massachusetts in issuing statewide emergency declarations to address the opioid epidemic. (A review of the earlier declarations can be found here). While emergency declarations typically address natural disasters or infectious disease outbreaks, the growing trend of invoking emergency powers for opioids highlights the actions states are willing to take in response to an increasing number of overdose deaths. As more states leverage their emergency authorities to address opioids, the sophistication and creativity of using such powers is emerging. Read More »

ASTHO’s New CMO Brings Clinical Perspective to Public Health

January 04, 2018|3:00 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Marcus Plescia is chief medical officer of ASTHO. For the past fifteen years, Plescia has served in public health leadership roles at the state, local, and federal levels, including director of chronic disease for the North Carolina Division of Public Heath, director of national cancer control programs at CDC, and county public health director in Charlotte, NC. Prior to this, Plescia spent ten years in academic family medicine, teaching medical students and family medicine residents and providing patient care. In addition, Plescia has remained active in public health research, publishing in medical and public health literature and serving as principle investigator of REACH 2010, a large, CDC-funded health disparities intervention project. Read More »

Early Legislative Activity on Opioids

January 04, 2018|1:33 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As 2018 begins, several state and territorial legislatures are convening and commencing debates and deliberations. Throughout the year, ASTHO will provide real-time legislative tracking on a range of public health issues, including vaccinations, tobacco control, marijuana, and antimicrobial resistance. ASTHO’s legislative tracking for opioids, substance use, and addiction will be organized around the four key strategies identified in ASTHO’s Prevention Opioid Misuse in the States and Territories framework: monitoring and surveillance, prevention and education, reducing and managing access, and treatment and recovery. Less than a week into the New Year, it is clear that responding to the opioid epidemic remains a priority for lawmakers with several legislative proposals addressing the framework’s strategies. Read More »

Alaska Confronts the Opioid Epidemic in its Remote Communities

December 21, 2017|4:47 p.m.| Matthew Oglesby

Jay Butler, MD, ASTHO immediate past-president and chief medical officer of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, recently took a trip to Prince of Wales Island, Ketchikan, and Petersberg, where community partners are emphasizing the multiple levels of prevention to confront the opioid epidemic together. Read More »

ASTHO’s Year in Review: Successes and 2018 Outlook

December 21, 2017|4:27 p.m.| Michael Fraser, Executive Director, ASTHO

ASTHO accomplished a great deal in 2017. While I certainly enjoy looking back at our successes from this past year, my real enthusiasm is for the year ahead—we have so much great work to continue with state and territorial health officials in 2018. Below is a look back at a few highlights from this year and what’s to come in 2018. Read More »

State Opioid Response Plans for 2018

December 21, 2017|1:23 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In 2017, policymakers across the country built on existing laws, partnerships, and programs, as well as created new ones, to stem substance use, dependency, and addiction. Throughout 2018, ASTHO will continue to track this legislation, share best and emerging practices, and advocate with federal partners for increased support and resources as state health departments undertake these vital efforts. Read More »

ASTHO’s 75th Anniversary: A Retrospective

December 21, 2017|10:16 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

This year, ASTHO celebrated its 75th anniversary and the significant achievements of its members, who have been on the frontlines of protecting and promoting the public’s health for decades. In 1935, following the enactment of the Social Security Act, state and territorial health officials recognized the need to organize and unify as a single voice. Seven years later, on March 23, 1942, ASTHO was incorporated, with the core mission of helping public health officials improve health and wellness in states and territories. Since then, ASTHO has been involved in nearly every significant public health crisis this nation has faced, including supporting response to the H1N1 pandemic, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, threat from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and, more recently, providing decisive leadership as the nation makes great strides against the threat posed by Zika virus and we continue to combat the national opioid epidemic. Read More »

Jay Butler Represents ASTHO at AMA House of Delegates Interim Meeting

December 14, 2017|4:56 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

On Nov. 11-14, ASTHO Immediate Past-President Jay Butler, chief medical officer for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, attended the American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates Interim Meeting. Read More »

State Strategies Encouraging Vaccination

December 14, 2017|2:18 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With flu season underway, there is still time to get vaccinated and help reduce the spread of flu. As the year ends and 2018 begins, ASTHO will continue to track state and territorial vaccination legislation and keep members informed. Read More »

Relish Rhody: Rhode Island’s Innovative Comprehensive Food Strategy

December 14, 2017|12:38 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

A community’s food scene is a central part of what makes it an attractive place to live, visit, and raise a family or business. In an effort to grow Rhode Island’s economy and support healthy families and communities, Rhode Island developed a comprehensive food strategy known as Relish Rhody. With the support of many partners, Relish Rhody envisions a sustainable, equitable food system that builds on Rhode Island’s traditions, strengths, and history while encouraging innovation and supporting the local food economy in a way that benefits all Rhode Islanders. Read More »

Keys to Addressing Maternal Mortality at the State Level: Consistency, Collaboration, and Data

December 12, 2017|5:25 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Despite an overall worldwide decline of 44 percent since 1990, pregnancy-related deaths have increased steadily in the United States. CDC estimates that over 700 women die each year due to pregnancy or delivery complications. The rate of severe maternal morbidity (SMM), an unexpected outcome to labor and delivery that results in significant short or long term consequences to a woman’s health, increased nearly 200 percent from 1994 to 2014. To address the increase in maternal mortality, states are focusing efforts on increasing consistency in care, fostering coordination and collaboration, and improving data systems. Fourteen states and CNMI are implementing maternal safety bundles through enrollment in the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM). Thirty-three states have established maternal mortality review processes and several states have developed policies and practices intended to reduce to maternal morbidity and mortality. ASTHO affirms that reducing preventable maternal morbidity and mortality will improve both maternal and infant health outcomes and is crucial for the promotion of health. Read More »

Striving to Improve Influenza Immunization Uptake in Hispanic Adults in New York State

December 08, 2017|10:53 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

While scientific data and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that the influenza (flu) vaccine is the best way to prevent and reduce the number and severity of illnesses caused by the influenza virus, lower flu vaccination coverage persists within the U.S. population and is even lower in racial and ethnic minorities. Specifically, in New York State, influenza and pneumonia is ranked in the top five leading causes of death among Hispanics, in part due to lower rates of vaccine coverage due to vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine hesitancy is a behavior in which individuals may delay or refuse vaccines due to a variety of factors including misconceptions or misinformation about vaccines, lack of general knowledge about vaccines, and other socio-cultural factors. Read More »

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana

December 07, 2017|4:57 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Currently, 31 states and territories, as well as Washington, D.C., authorize the use of medical marijuana and establish the qualifying or debilitating conditions a person must have before being allowed to use it. While all legislatures can add or remove the conditions for medical marijuana, many have delegated the authority to approve new qualifying or debilitating conditions to state and territorial health agencies. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Lance Himes

December 07, 2017|1:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Lance Himes is director for the Ohio Department of Health. Before serving as director, Himes served in the agency’s legal department for more than 10 years, where he oversaw several attorneys and office staff. A successful public health attorney, Himes played a significant role in the legal implementation of Ohio’s smoke-free workplace law and rules, as well as an extensive overhaul of Ohio’s sewage treatment regulations, which helped reform the laws for the first time since 1977. As director, Himes helps drive the mission of the Ohio Department of Health—that is, to protect and improve the health of all Ohioans by preventing disease, promoting good health, and assuring access to quality care. Read More »

Tobacco Companies Highlight Deadly Health Effects of Smoking

December 01, 2017|11:13 a.m.| Marcus Plescia and Erin Boles Welsh

By the time the Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving in 1621, tobacco was an established agricultural commodity. John Rolfe is credited with introducing commercial cultivation of tobacco in Jamestown in 1612, with the first shipment sent to England in 1617. Even then, critics raised concerns about the adverse health effects of tobacco, including King James I, who described it as “loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black and stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.”. Read More »

State Legislation to Prevent Antibiotic Resistant Infections

November 30, 2017|3:44 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Each year, antibiotic resistant infections are responsible for approximately two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States. In 2017, ASTHO tracked state legislation aimed at preventing antibiotic resistance. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Thomas Williams

November 30, 2017|3:13 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Thomas Williams, MD, serves a dual role as chief medical officer and director of the Division of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to this, Williams, an anatomic and clinical pathologist with subspecialty expertise in chemical pathology, practiced medicine at the Nebraska Methodist Hospital. Read More »

Preparedness From the Field: Harry Bruce Jeffries, Jr.

November 21, 2017|4:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Harry Bruce Jeffries, Jr., commonly known as Jeff, is the deputy director of health protection at the Georgia Department of Public Health. In this role, Jeff oversees the state’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), Pubic Health Emergency Preparedness Program (PHEP), immunization section, Office of Refugee Health, and Office of Pharmacy. . Read More »

ASTHO Thanks the Public Health Community!

November 17, 2017|3:00 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Today, ASTHO joins Research!America in celebrating Public Health Thank You Day—an opportunity to thank all of the dedicated public health professionals for their tireless work and service in helping to protect and improve the health of all people and communities. To show their gratitude for the public health workforce, members of ASTHO’s board of directors shared a few personal messages, each detailing what they are most thankful for as public health leaders. . Read More »

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