For Immediate Release
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APHA Adopted 17 New Policies at 2010 Annual Meeting

Washington, D.C., February 18, 2011 - The American Public Health Association recently adopted 17 policies at its 138th Annual Meeting in Denver. The newly adopted policies address a broad range of public health concerns, from environmental health issues and public health education and workforce challenges to oral health prevention strategies and implications of immigration policy on public health outcomes. All policies are now online and searchable in APHA’s policy database at http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/ .

Following are brief descriptions of the measures approved by the Association’s Governing Council during its Annual Meeting Nov. 6-10, 2010. For the full 2010 policies, visit the above link.

• 20101 Using education to eliminate health disparities — Calls for collaboration between the education and public health communities to improve high school graduation rates as a means to improve students’ health. Recognizes high school graduates have better health and lower medical costs than dropouts. Encourages local health departments and local education agencies to establish health teams at schools, particularly high-poverty schools, to engage parents, students and community agencies in promoting health, well-being and achievement among youth. Encourages public health and education professional associations to collaborate at the national, state and local levels to improve graduation rates.

• 20102 STD/HIV prevention in adult film industry — Acknowledging sexually transmitted disease and HIV outbreaks have been well documented among heterosexual members of the adult film industry, calls for state and federal legislative actions that would require employers to provide condoms in the production of adult films, provide medical monitoring and protect the confidentiality of workers’ medical records. Also calls for “vigorous enforcement” of U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards to reduce exposure to infectious diseases within the adult film industry.

• 20103 Abortion coverage in health reform — Calls on the president and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that federal health reform implementation does not create roadblocks to insurers’ ability to offer abortion coverage in plans sold through state insurance exchanges. Calls on governors and state legislative leaders to ensure abortion coverage is available in commercial insurance policies. Urges the president and Congress to reject any proposals to further restrict abortion coverage, either in expanded Medicaid or in private insurance policies that will be offered in state insurance exchanges.

• 20104 Reducing exposure to chemicals — Urges support for the Endocrine Society and the American Medical Association in proclaiming that more needs to be done to protect the public from endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or those that interfere with hormone action. Calls for coordination among federal agencies with regulatory oversight over various endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Calls on health professionals and scientists with expertise on endocrine-disrupting chemicals to be active in developing public policies to regulate and restrict such chemicals. Calls for such policies to be based on data addressing both low-level and high-level exposure.

• 20105 Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup — Reasserts that the cleanup of nuclear waste sites is a public health priority. Calls for the expansion of independent public health research on current and future health risks from Hanford, a former manufacturing site for atomic bombs, and supports comprehensive research on radiation and chemical exposure to workers, long-term low-dose exposure to the public, and current and future environmental impact. Calls for the U.S. Department of Energy to formally incorporate tribal exposure scenarios and cleanup standards in the Hanford cleanup plan.

• 20106 Occupational safety through design — Recognizing that yearly in the United States, 5,800 die from workplace injury and up to 72,000 from workplace illness, calls for increased funding to address communication gaps between owners, designers and occupational health and safety professionals to address worker well-being in the design, redesign and retrofitting of workplaces, equipment and work processes. Calls for support for “prevention through design” programs, including those at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

• 20107 Transportation of spent nuclear fuel — Asserts that transportation of spent nuclear fuel poses a largely preventable national public health threat. Calls on Congress to address the public health and safety concerns of intrastate and interstate transport of spent nuclear fuels while considering increased funding for the development of nuclear energy. Calls for greater subsidies for renewable, non-nuclear energy alternatives to fossil fuels. Encourages the public health community and others to recognize energy consumption as a major public health concern and to support reducing the nation’s energy consumption.

• 20108 Diagnosing and monitoring pesticide exposure — Calls for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require pesticide registrants and to develop and provide to the public a sensitive and specific diagnostic test and/or biomonitoring tool for detection of pesticide chemicals or the chemicals’ effects on humans.

• 20109 Health literacy — Recognizes the nation’s limited level of health literacy is a serious and escalating public health issue. Urges Congress and the National Conference of State Legislatures to adopt legislation requiring government documents and those of state-regulated industries to be communicated in plain language that is clear, well organized and linguistically and culturally appropriate. Urges Congress and the administration to address health literacy in implementing health reform legislation and to adopt educational reform that recognizes health education as a core subject by the U.S. Department of Education and requires instruction by certified, licensed or endorsed individuals.

• 201010 Fluoride varnish — In addition to promoting fluoridated water and fluoridated toothpaste, calls for fluoride varnish programs to be established or expanded to reach under-served populations at high risk of tooth decay. Calls for public health authorities to ensure appropriate assessments are in place to determine a population’s risk for tooth decay and to offer fluoride varnish application and education through organized programs. Calls for federal support for additional research on fluoride varnish in populations other than children and on alternative delivery settings to improve understanding of efficacy, program adoption, reach and cost-effectiveness compared to other topical fluoride and caries prevention regimens.

• 201011 Health care home model — Supports the implementation of the health care home model for all populations but especially in primary care practices that provide services to under-served, poor or minority populations, including school-based health centers and mobile clinics. Calls for a higher rate of reimbursement for primary care practices that meet health care home model standards. Urges the inclusion of nurse practitioners, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants and osteopaths in financial incentives for the health care home model. Also urges reimbursement incentives for mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals, oral health providers, hearing and vision care specialists and others.

• 201012 Genetic and genomic literacy — Encourages collaboration between schools of public health and public health programs, government agencies and regional networks to develop curricula and educational segments to address genetic and genomic literacy in the existing and future public health work force. Supports the development of additional training grants and educational opportunities to increase the numbers of health professionals qualified to address genetic and genomic issues in clinical community and public health settings as well as to create a diverse genomics work force that includes people from traditionally under-represented and under-served populations.

• 201013 U.S. child health policy — Urges the federal government and states to adequately fund public health programs and interventions that focus on building environments that support health and thriving families and communities, including those that address food security, affordable and safe housing, healthful and safe workplaces, health disparities and quality early childhood education. Encourages collaboration among health professionals, government, foundations, faith- and community-based organizations and businesses to support efforts that improve personal health throughout the lifespan.

• 201014 Influenza vaccination of health workers — Supports implementation of requirements for all health workers to receive an annual influenza vaccination. Urges providers, employers and other organizations to implement comprehensive infection control programs, including vaccination training and education, housekeeping and standard respiratory precautions in keeping with infection control standards. Emphasizes that vaccination of health workers is important for their own protection, not just patient safety.

• 201015 Support for state and local health departments — Calls for funding to assure adequate public health protections and services are available in every state and locality nationwide. Supports the development of mechanisms to enhance funding of state and local health departments, including development of a national public health financial accounting and reporting system. Calls for local tax support for public health. Urges priority to be given to funds targeted for state and local health departments to help those agencies meet minimum requirements.

The following two policies were passed as latebreaker policies and will serve as interim policies until confirmed by the Governing Council at its 2011 Annual Meeting.

• LB-10-01 International recruitment of health personnel — Urges APHA to encourage the United States to implement and comply with the World Health Assembly’s Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. The code sets ethical principles on the international recruitment of health workers and recognizes the responsibility of higher-income nations to meet their own internal demands for health workers without relying on other countries that can least afford to lose such workers.

• LB-10-02 U.S. immigration policy — Calls on the president and Congress to end the exclusion of health care for undocumented, newly arrived immigrants from health reform and to support health reform that provides comprehensive, affordable, accessible health care for every person regardless of their health status, employment, income, language or immigration status. Calls for the repeal of Arizona’s anti-immigration law. Calls on state, county, city and tribal governments to support immigrant-related policies that foster integration and health equity.

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Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and health officials at all levels working both within and outside governmental organizations and educational institutions. More information is available at www.apha.org.