The people who run public health departments in our cities and counties think it’s time the legislature quit piling on the responsibilities without adding some money.
Local public health agencies are in charge of preventing and controlling communicable disease, providing immunization, making sure schools and child care centers are clean and safe, and assuring a safe food supply–and more.
Spokesman Jane Huff with the Missouri Association of Local Public Health Agencies has told the Senate Appropriations Committee she and other public health officials also are on the front lines in dealing with chronic diseases and preparing for emerging infectious diseases, such as bird flu.
Huff says Missouri is a leader in so many ways but is 44th in in public health spending. She says local public health agencies are asked to meet their core functions with level or less funding while being asked to address new challenges of chronic and infectious diseases. She says state funding for state health agencies has remained level or decreased for the past seven years.
She says public health agencies are serving a rising population and an aging population. And she says a 28 percent increase in immigration since 2000 presents even more new challenges to public health agencies.
She says the core function public health dollar has been stretched to the limit. For example–she says flu vaccine that used to cost three-dollars now costs fifteen.
Huff says the state spends one-dollar-42 cents per person on public health in Missouri. She says agencies are losing ground.