For Immediate Release
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American Public Health Association adopted 23 new policies at 2011 Annual Meeting

Washington, D.C., February 10, 2012 - The American Public Health Association adopted 23 policies at its 139th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., in late 2011. The newly adopted policies address a broad range of public health concerns, from reproductive health and access to care issues to public health education and workforce, and implications of immigration policy on public health outcomes. The policies are now online and searchable in APHA’s policy database at www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch

Following are brief descriptions of the measures approved by the Association’s Governing Council on Nov. 1, 2011. Policies were then copyedited prior to being finalized and posted in the APHA Policy Statement Database. For the full 2011 policies, visit the above link.

20111 Access to over-the-counter contraception — Calls for Medicaid coverage for over-the-counter contraceptives and for health insurers to include coverage for all family planning drugs and supplies that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sale over the counter and to not require a prescription for such coverage. Also calls for government agencies to implement policies to provide federal and state Medicaid coverage for over-the-counter contraceptives.

20112 Abortion care by nurses and physician assistants — Recommends collaboration to address barriers to nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants as qualified primary care clinicians and safe providers of abortion services. Also recommends adoption of the World Health Organization’s core competencies in sexual and reproductive health by public health and primary care educators and that all health care professionals work to advance reproductive justice, eliminate health disparities and improve access to abortion services.

20113 Disclosure by crisis pregnancy centers — Encourages state and local governments to require crisis pregnancy centers to disclose that the center is not a medical facility, does not perform or provide referrals for abortion and does not prescribe or provide referrals for Food and Drug Administration-approved contraception. Also urges governments to only support programs that provide medically accurate, unbiased information and to enforce existing consumer protections that prohibit deceptive practices.

20114 Musculoskeletal disorders a public health concern — Notes that musculoskeletal disorders are the most common causes of severe long-term pain and physical disability worldwide and calls on public health agencies to make evidence-based musculoskeletal programs and resources available to health workers. Encourages the development of culturally and linguistically appropriate education materials for special populations. Urges the further development and dissemination of evidence-based guidelines for prevention and management.

20115 Minors’ access to abortion services — Urges groups working with pregnant minors to advocate that minors’ access to abortion services not be made conditional on parental involvement, but also to encourage voluntary involvement of one or both parents or an adult in abortion decision-making. Encourages educating providers and the public on minors’ rights to confidential reproductive and sexual health services. Urges upholding measures that ensure minors’ rights to privacy in accessing abortion services.

20116 Access to children’s vision care — Recommends that the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, through its Maternal and Child Health Bureau, allocate new resources to improve access and reduce barriers to comprehensive vision care services for children. Also recommends that HRSA increase resources to state health departments by expanding performance measures to better coordinate, track and evaluate state vision screening and follow-up of comprehensive examinations and treatment.

20117 Improving opportunities for young immigrants — Calls upon Congress to pass legislation such as the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act to improve access to higher education opportunities and legal immigration status for undocumented immigrant youth and young adults. Calls on schools, colleges and graduate programs in public health to promote research documenting the structural constraints shaping young immigrants’ opportunities for higher education and upward social and economic mobility.

20118 Improving U.S. farmworker housing — Urges federal and state agencies to dedicate resources to creating affordable and accessible farmworker housing that meets health and safety standards. Presses for comprehensive immigration reform that would allow universal access to housing opportunities and other social services. Urges state and federal authorities to provide language training opportunities to housing coordinators, operators and inspectors and provide multilingual guides to help housing authorities increase communication with farmworkers.

20119 Reducing PVC exposure — Urges governments to educate administrators, purchasing staff, employees, parents and caregivers about the hazards of exposure to flexible polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, and safer alternatives in schools, daycare centers, medical care facilities, nursing homes, public housing and other facilities with vulnerable populations. Urges state and federal governments to consider requiring labeling of PVC in products.

201110 Ending agricultural exceptionalism — Calls for strengthening worker protections in agriculture through regulation, enforcement, training and improved worksite health and safety. Affirms the need to eliminate regulatory exclusions. Urges Congress to direct funding to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to allow the enforcement and inspection of all agricultural operations including those with fewer than 11 workers and to require all operations to participate in injury reporting.

201111 Noncommunicable disease prevention and treatment — Calls for relevant training for public health practitioners to help address the global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases, especially among the poor, women, older adult populations, people with disabilities, people residing in rural or other isolated settings and medically underserved groups. Urges governments to create systems and programs for addressing known risk factors.

201112 Eliminating avoidable blindness — Recommends advancing the World Health Organization’s Vision 2020: The Right to Sight global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness especially by encouraging educational programs that increase awareness of the broad societal impact of blindness and visual disability, the adoption of new intervention strategies and the scaling up of global collaboration. Recommends expanding the ophthalmic public health workforce.

201113 Reducing maternal, neonatal and child mortality — Recommends increased political commitment to global maternal, neonatal and child health by the United States and all world governments. Calls for increased targeted funding for research, development, implementation, documentation and dissemination of effective strategies for improving global maternal, neonatal and child health in the poorest populations, including sufficient funding for science-based program evaluation to ensure measurement in these populations.

201114 Reducing U.S. maternal mortality — Recommends an increase in funding and support to implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation to develop and establish multidisciplinary, independent pregnancy-related mortality review boards in every state. Encourages state health departments to create electronic data linkages between death and birth certificates to better identify pregnancy-associated deaths. Supports funding for programs focused on increasing access to quality health care for all women.

201115 Endorsing surgeon general’s breastfeeding report — Endorses the 2011 “Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding.” Calls on Congress to appropriate funding to implement the call to action and for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to set aside funds that specifically allow for implementation. Calls on legislators, policymakers, communities and health care institutions to implement action steps recommended by the surgeon general.

201116 Men’s health in HIV/AIDS response — Urges public health professionals and international and domestic organizations to encourage the international decriminalization of same-sex sexual behavior and the reform and repeal of laws and policies that reinforce stigma and discrimination. Also urges them to conduct and act on the findings of policy analyses of HIV/AIDS-related laws to ensure their content and enforcement reflects current, scientifically based knowledge of HIV/AIDS. Calls for the creation of anti-stigma, anti-discrimination and anti-bullying initiatives.

201117 International recruitment of health personnel — Endorses the World Health Organization’s Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. Urges the U.S. to assemble a task force to identify the data required to make good faith reports to WHO, to fund a research program to examine the intersections between domestic and international workforce production, deployment and retention and to set a policy agenda.

201118 Banning consumer use of fireworks — Recommends that federal, state and local governments ban the importation, sale and use of all fireworks except by licensed operators, and urges health practitioners and local authorities to consistently and accurately report any fireworks-related injuries, property damage and deaths to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Encourages intensified educational efforts on the hazards associated with fireworks.

201119 Encouraging health department accreditation — Encourages governmental health departments to participate in the accreditation process by completing prerequisite work to collect and demonstrate necessary evidence to meet Public Health Accreditation Board standards and measures and to ultimately support successful application for national accreditation. Supports the board in its efforts to encourage health departments to seek accreditation.

201120 Reducing sodium in food supply — Urges the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of sodium in processed foods and require that easily understandable front-of-package labeling be put in place to identify whether products have high, medium or low sodium content so consumers can make more informed decisions; Urges food services and restaurants to take immediate steps to reduce and to identify the amount of sodium; Calls for partner collaboration to work on consumer education regarding high sodium consumption; Encourages all Americans seek to reduce their sodium intake in the effort to reduce high blood pressure and mortalities from heart disease and stroke.

LB-11-01 Human research protections — Addresses changes to the Common Rule, a federal regulation that sets ethical standards for human research subjects. Says that routine use of existing clinical and administrative records and bio-specimens used for comparative effectiveness, quality improvement, quality assessment, program evaluation, disease investigation and public health practice should be excluded from the rule. Encourages streamlining documentation requirements. Calls for an independent appeal process.

LB-11-02 Opposing anti-immigration laws — Opposes the Federal Secure Communities program, which allows local law enforcement to enforce immigration policy and undermines immigrants’ health, both directly and by increasing stresses over racial profiling, deportation and family separation and inhibiting access to health care and social services. Calls on Congress and the president to dismantle the program and for public health advocates to demand an end to the program.

LB-11-03 Reducing prescription drug overdoses — Supports the development of prescription drug monitoring programs. Calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to build support for the development, enhancement and evaluation of such programs that focus on patients at the highest risk of overdose, including those receiving the highest dosages of prescription painkillers, those obtaining multiple prescriptions for controlled substances and those who have multiple prescribers.

*Note: All late breaker (LB) policy statements serve as interim policy until next year’s Annual Meeting and must be resubmitted for the full 2012 policy review cycle.

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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.