2016 APHA policy statements

Date: Nov 01 2016


American Public Health Association adopts 11 new policy statements at 2016 Annual Meeting
New policy statements address minimum wage, harmful chemicals, and transgender and gender diverse health

Denver, Nov. 1, 2016 – The American Public Health Association adopted 11 new policy statements at its 2016 Annual Meeting and Expo in Denver today, covering topics ranging from increasing the minimum wage, to reducing exposure to harmful chemicals, to promoting transgender and gender diverse health.

The following are brief descriptions of the 11 policy statements adopted by the Governing council on Nov. 1. Two of these policy statements were adopted as late-breakers, and will serve as interim policy statements for one year. For more information on any of these policy statements, email policy@apha.org.

(Disclaimer: 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 online in early 2017.)

20161 Oral health and developmental disabilities — Noting the people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities typically experience poorer oral health outcomes than people without such disabilities, calls for the integration of oral health promotion, prevention and treatment within medical care for such populations. Encourages the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop an integrated public health plan to address social barriers to care and promote oral health among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Urges HHS to designate people with such disabilities living in community settings as medically and orally underserved populations. Calls on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to require state Medicaid funding to cover dental services for adults living with such disabilities, and on the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to increase access to federally qualified health clinics and other interdisciplinary health services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

20162 Achieving a HIV/AIDS-free generation — With much more work needed to meet National HIV/AIDS Strategy goals and achieve a HIV/AIDS-free generation, calls on Congress to fully fund the Office of National AIDS Policy to revise, implement, monitor and evaluate the strategy’s 2020 action plan as well as urges federal health officials to create an HIV research agenda that clearly lays out priority issues. Calls on members of Congress to fully fund the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and allow flexibility in funding formulas to enable better outreach to vulnerable populations. Encourages federal public health officials to continue and increase investments in evidence-based, high-impact HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, especially among people living with HIV, with an ultimate goal of ensuring that people’s viral loads are fully suppressed. Urges public health and medical communities to partner with multisectoral coalitions toward reducing barriers to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

20163 Reducing exposure to highly fluorinated chemicals — With evidence that health-harming perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances – or “highly fluorinated chemicals” – can be detected in the blood of nearly all Americans and exceed recommended levels in the drinking water of millions of Americans, calls on chemical producers to generate and share health and environmental data on the chemicals, which are used to add nonstick, waterproof or stain-resistant properties to a variety of consumer products. Encourages Congress to fund research on alternatives to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and urges federal environmental and public health officials to develop protective drinking water advisories and establish mitigation strategies in the event of potentially dangerous exposures. Urges public health organizations to educate purchasers, manufacturers and retailers about the potential harm posed by such chemicals and the importance of finding safe alternatives. Calls on federal and state officials to require labeling of products that contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

20164 Stopping the consumption of raw milk — In an effort to stop and reduce the sale and consumption of raw milk, which can contain dangerous pathogens, calls on states to enact or strengthen prohibitions against the sale of raw milk and raw milk products as well as ban the exchange of unpasteurized milk via herd-share programs. Encourages the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to zero in on areas where illegal interstate sales of raw milk continue to occur, and urges public health organizations and regulatory agencies to create a joint task force charged with educating about the dangers of raw milk. Encourages state public health authorities and public health labs to evaluate their response plans to disease outbreaks linked to raw milk consumption. Urges states where the sale of raw milk is legal to declare it an “inherently dangerous substance,” thereby criminalizing its sale.

20165 Addressing the social determinants of education — Knowing that education is a key social determinant in a person’s health throughout the lifespan and that improving on-time graduation rates requires a cross-sector approach, encourages school boards, parents and community members to evaluate implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act to ensure equity in school resources, health services, healthy food access and educator training. Calls on schools, in partnership with health care providers and insurers, to ensure that physical and mental health services are available in schools, especially in communities where such services are most needed. Urges school staff to use disciplinary strategies that eliminate or reduce suspension and expulsions, and calls on community members to support year-round school meal funding as well as school funding mechanisms that do not discriminate against poorly resourced communities.

20166 The community development sector and health — With cross-sector community development efforts showing promise in improving place-based social determinants of health, calls for public health, health care and community development agencies to collaborate toward the revitalization of high-poverty neighborhoods and the promotion of health equity and social justice. Urges community developers, hospital and health systems and public health practitioners to include residents and community-based organizations in planning and implementing community revitalization projects. Encourages hospitals and community health systems to invest in community development projects that address the social determinants of health. Calls on universities and schools of public health to include study of the community development sector as a way of preparing students to partner with such sectors in the future. Urges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to incorporate information and recommendations about the role of community development in health in its activities and policies.

20167 Raising the minimum wage — Knowing that income and poverty are major determinants in people’s health, calls on federal officials to raise the minimum wage to a level in which a four-person household with a single, minimum wage earner can live above the federal poverty level. Also calls for developing criteria for determining a federal living wage, which would be based on housing, food, transportation, childcare and health care costs. Urges federally funded research to study the health effects of minimum wage policies, and calls on federal and state budget analysts to study the effects of living wages on public assistance budgets. Calls on states to consider increasing the minimum wage and indexing wages to inflation and the costs of living. Also calls on state governments to oppose preemption of municipal minimum wage policies, allowing for municipalities to set their own minimum wage policies.

20168 Ending HIV/AIDS travel restrictions — With nearly three-dozen countries having HIV-related travel restrictions on the books and noting that such requirements violate a person’s right to confidentiality, urges UNAIDS, the World Health Assembly and other HIV and human rights groups to call on all countries that maintain HIV-related travel restrictions to eliminate such rules. Encourages those countries to ensure that all HIV testing is confidential and voluntary as well as ensure that counseling and medical care are available to all people living with HIV/AIDS, including migrants and foreign nationals. Encourages UNAIDS to ensure its protocols for researching and investigating HIV-related travel restrictions are effective by monitoring and documenting HIV-related discrimination targeting immigrants, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that countries are not able to misrepresent their policies to gain undeserved recognition for supporting the rights of people with HIV/AIDS.

20169 Promoting transgender, gender diverse health — Noting that policies and practices that exclude transgender and gender diverse people have adverse health impacts, calls on Congress and state officials to enact legislation that protects the rights of people of all genders and their access to services. Urges federal and state officials use legislative language that is specifically inclusive of transgender and gender diverse people and protects their right to use facilities that match their gender identities. Calls on officials to fund research into gender diverse health and urges employers to institute nondiscriminatory policies inclusive of transgender and gender diverse workers. Also urges public and private education systems to work toward inclusive academic cultures. Encourages juvenile justice and criminal justice policies and practices that include transgender and gender diverse people. Calls for public health and health care practices that include transgender and gender diverse residents.

LB-16-01 Accountability for the Haitian cholera epidemic — Citing the role of the United Nations’ inadequate sewage precautions in the 2010 Haitian cholera outbreak, which has since killed more than 9,000 people and sickened nearly 790,000, calls on the UN, in coordination with the World Health Organization, the World Bank and other partners, to take responsibility for raising funds and implementing the National Plan for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti in its entirety. Urges that Haitian workers be hired and paid fairly to build water and sanitation infrastructure in accordance with the national cholera plan, and encourages UN officials to ensure that a diversity of stakeholders oversee the plan’s implementation, including those from Haitian civil society organizations and international nongovernmental organizations that have built up trust with people in Haiti. Also calls on the UN to ensure fair and transparent systems for remedying any harms it may inflict on people and environments during future peacekeeping missions.

LB-16-02 Addressing law enforcement violence — In the context of violent and sometimes lethal encounters between law enforcement, people of color and people in marginalized communities, calls for a public health strategy for preventing law enforcement violence that has four main elements: decriminalization; robust police accountability measures; increased investment in racial and economic equity policies; and community-based alternatives for addressing harms and preventing violence and crime. Urges the U.S. Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists to work with fellow public health experts to create surveillance protocols for law enforcement-related injuries and deaths. Calls on Congress to fund research on the health consequences of police violence, and encourages federal, state and local officials and law enforcement agencies to engage review of those law enforcement agencies’ policies and practices and eliminate those that lead to disproportionate violence against specific populations. Calls on government to reverse the militarization of police and on officials at all levels to fund community-based violence prevention programs.

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