Boston, Nov. 5, 2013 – The American Public Health Association adopted 17 new policy statements at its 141st Annual Meeting in Boston covering topics ranging from social security to noise pollution to extending paid sick leave policies.
Following are brief descriptions of the 17 policy statements adopted by the Governing council on Nov. 5, 2013. These brief descriptions are not comprehensive and do not include every point, statement or conclusion presented in the policy statements. Upon finalization and copyediting, full policy statements will be available at www.apha.org/advocacy/policy in early 2014. For more information on any of these policy statements, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
20131 Child care health and safety standards — Extends APHA's support of "Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs" to the document's third edition, which was published in 2011. Calls on child care providers, child care health consultants, state health and child care administrators as well as child care licensing organizations to adopt Caring for Our Children as their standard of care. Also encourages federal policymakers to assist states in motivating child care programs to adopt the standards set forth in Caring for Our Children.
20132 Breastfeeding call to action — Continues APHA's strong support of breastfeeding and recognizes efforts to increase breastfeeding rates and narrow breastfeeding disparities as fundamental public health issues. Calls for increasing access to lactation services, especially among under-served populations, and making sure such services are properly reimbursed. Also urges restricting infant formula marketing practices that can discourage breastfeeding, promoting breastfeeding in developing nations to help decrease HIV infection rates and endorsing the breastfeeding actions outlined in the 2013 federal "Report of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality."
20133 Preventing opioid overdose deaths — Supports preventing opioid overdoses through public education efforts, dissemination of best practices and distribution of naloxone, a drug used to treat an opiate overdose. Calls on the federal government to undertake a coordinated approach to preventing opioid overdose deaths via efforts such as raising public awareness of the signs and symptoms of an overdose, supporting access to treatment and recovery services, and enabling access to naloxone. Also urges federal officials to provide state and local health officials with resources to support public education and naloxone distribution programs.
20134 Public health and palliative approaches to care— Considering the growing burden of life-limiting and chronic disease among older adults, calls for public health-based prevention strategies to improve overall population and gerontological health. To achieve such goals, calls for moving beyond traditional medical practices and using public health policy to foster intersectoral collaboration, innovation and models of patient-centered palliative care. Calls for increasing access to palliative care, supporting development of the palliative care workforce, conducting public education on the right to palliative care and pain management, and funding for additional research.
20135 Responding to environmental noise pollution — Citing findings that chronic environmental noise can cause negative health issues, urges officials with the National Prevention Strategy to include environmental noise pollution in its action plan. Calls on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to collect data on noise-related health effects, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect data on the burden of disease potentially related to noise exposure. Also calls on states and municipalities to update noise regulations with regard to the health effects of noise pollution and include noise pollution in health impact assessments.
20136 Paid sick and family leave policies — Noting that the U.S. is the only developed nation that does not require paid sick leave, calls on federal lawmakers to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act to apply to more employers than it already does. Recommends lawmakers extend the law's reach to include same-sex households. Also calls on federal lawmakers to adopt federal law based on San Francisco's sick leave policy, which allows workers to accrue paid sick leave and use it to care for themselves or a family member.
20137 Nature, health and wellness — To aid in promoting healthy and active lifestyles, encourages land use decisions that prioritize access to natural areas and green spaces for residents of all ages, abilities and income levels. Calls on public health, medical and other health professionals to raise awareness among patients and the public at-large about the health benefits of spending time in nature and of nature-based play and recreation. Also urges such professionals to form partnerships with relevant stakeholders, such as parks departments, school districts and nature centers. Calls for promoting natural landscaping.
20138 Preventing workplace injury and illness — Citing the absence of federal requirements that employers enact illness and injury prevention programs, calls on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to disseminate a standard that requires such programs. Encourages continued federal research into barriers that prevent workers from reporting workplace injury and illness. Calls on federal agencies such as OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration to support the development of educational materials. Also calls for meaningful penalties for employers found to have policies that discourage workers form reporting illness and injury.
20139 Rejecting 'personhood' legislation for fetuses — To maintain women's constitutional rights and access to health services, calls on federal and state lawmakers to reject efforts that codify the legal status of a fetus as a person or as separate from a pregnant woman, as well as proposals that define life as beginning at conception. Urges health care providers to advocate for access to reproductive health services, including abortion and infertility treatments. Encourages judiciary bodies and law enforcement to renounce the use of murder, child welfare and other laws to treat the fetus as impendent from the woman.
201310 Addressing solitary confinement as a public health issue — Noting that the solitary confinement of prisoners and detainees can cause significant mental health problems and create barriers to needed health care, urges correctional officials to discontinue solitary confinement as a punishment and to create alternatives for prisoners living with mental and chronic illness. Encourages officials to limit solitary confinement to the most extreme cases and include appropriate monitoring for health issues. Also calls on officials to exclude all juveniles from solitary confinement regardless of the type of correctional institution in which they are serving time.
201311 Support for people released from jails, prisons — Calls on the U.S. Department of Labor to support policies that offer stable housing for people re-entering the community and links them to primary care providers. Also encourages changing job applications so that a person's criminal justice history is not the first item a potential employer sees as well as opposing policies that require stable housing and employment to avoid jail. Encourages federal leaders to scale up incarceration alternatives for people with mental illness and substance use disorders. Calls on public health professionals to help increase access to supportive community services.
201312 Public health response to drug use — Noting that substance use treatment is often inaccessible and unaffordable for those who need it, recommends that federal officials and agencies convene stakeholders to review current drug policy and discuss the core components needed for a health-based drug policy. Also encourages federal, state and local policymakers to implement evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies, such as expanding access to treatment programs and redirecting resources from criminal justice programs to public health ones, . Also calls on Congress to permanently repeal the ban on funding for safe syringe access.
201313 Defining the public health workforce — Urges public health stakeholders and key federal agencies to move toward creating consistent classifications for describing public health jobs and functions. Encourages stakeholders to collaborate on efforts to meet the target date of 2018 for recommending changes to the Standard Occupational Classification System. Calls on federal policymakers to fund the National Health Care Workforce Commission authorized via the Affordable Care Act and to charge the commission with creating a separate group to address public health workforce issues. Also calls for a White House Conference on Public Health.
201314 Quality improvement in public health — Calls on federal health officials to partner with state, local, territorial and tribal officials in identifying quality improvement measures and in supporting the infrastructure needed to collect quality improvement data in real time. Encourages training current and future public health professionals on quality improvement and developing a culture of quality improvement practices. Also encourages funding for public health quality improvement as well as accreditation, and urges government agencies and private stakeholders to develop a research agenda dedicated to public health quality improvement.
201315 Sustaining Social Security to protect health — Noting that Social Security is among the nation's most effective anti-poverty programs and that income is closely tied with health status, urges Congress to revise the Social Security Act to reduce the minimum credit requirement for eligibility and to allow all spouses to quality for benefits regardless of the length of marriage. Also calls on federal officials to oppose efforts to reduce Social Security benefits, and fund research on the links between income security and better health outcomes for older adults and others who benefit from Social Security.
201316 Supporting the public health nursing workforce — Calls for more funding to support post-secondary education in nursing and public health, particularly in under-represented communities. Also calls for federal funding for a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing that supports training opportunities for entry- and advanced-level public health nursing and to train population-focused nurse educators. Encourages public and private employers to offer public health nurses benefits that are equitable to registered nurses. Urges federal labor officials to develop classifications to monitor the public health nursing workforce.
201317 Cancer genomics and public health — Noting that cancer genetic testing is among the Healthy People 2020 objectives, urges health departments to include data on heritable cancer conditions and related service utilization into surveillance efforts and distribute the findings to relevant stakeholders. Calls for incorporating cancer genomics testing and education into public health cancer programs, and for raising public awareness about the value of cancer genetic testing. Encourages public health professionals to address disparities in who is offered cancer genetic testing and to support expanded coverage of such services via Medicaid and Medicare.
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Note: This news release was updated on Nov. 7, 2013.