Press Releases

Rep. Roybal-Allard Co-Leads Introduction of National Public Health Week Resolution

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Washington, June 29, 2020 | Ben Soskin ((202) 225-1766) | comments
Today, Congressional Public Health Caucus Co-Chairs Congressmembers Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Mike Simpson (ID-02), and Rob Wittman (VA-01) led the introduction of a resolution in the House of Representatives to recognize National Public Health Week 2020.  Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) is introducing the Senate companion resolution.  

Since 1995, the U.S. has observed National Public Health Week.  The theme of this year’s National Public Health Week is “NPHW @ 25: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” and the week recognizes public health’s contributions to improving the health of the American people and achieving health equity.  The week is observed by the Congressional Public Health Caucus and other members of Congress supportive of public health, as well as the American Public Health Association (APHA) and other public health organizations and professionals.

“2020 marks the 25th year of America taking a national week of observance to honor the importance of public health,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard.  “It has been my privilege to co-chair the Congressional Public Health Caucus since 2006, and to co-lead the House’s National Public Health Week resolution for the last 10 years.  Public health professionals have long been the unsung heroes of our health care system, working quietly in the background to help keep Americans healthy and safe.  During this global pandemic, the world is seeing that our public health workforce is truly indispensable, and that public health science is critical to our ongoing battle to defeat COVID-19.”

“If there was ever any question about how important our public health system is, the coronavirus pandemic has provided a resounding answer,” said Rep. McGovern.  “Public health is public safety.  Public health is national security.  Public health is economic prosperity.  We have all seen firsthand how this pandemic has disproportionately impacted people with pre-existing conditions and underserved communities that have historically suffered from underinvestment.  This year, as we recognize and give thanks to our health care heroes, we must also recognize that words are not enough – we must fight for robust investments in our public health system to create a healthier and more prepared country.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has focused significant attention on the critical role of our nation’s public health officials who have served and sacrificed on the front lines in the fight against the Coronavirus,” said Rep. Wittman. “Now more than ever, it is important to highlight the dedication of public health professionals to reduce diseases and support healthy communities.  As a former public health official with over 20 years of experience serving the people of Virginia, I want to say thank you to all public health officials throughout the Commonwealth and the United States.”

“National Public Health Week is a time to reflect on the hard work we must do to protect our communities, and recognize the bravery of public health workers in New Mexico and across the country who are working tirelessly to keep us all safe,” said Sen. Udall.  “During National Public Health week, we must renew our commitment to building healthier communities, not just with words, but by investing in the professionals, infrastructure and public health programs that protect us and create a better future.  The COVID-19 pandemic is a sobering reminder that the health of each New Mexican and American is linked to the health of all of us, and while we continue to protect others from the global pandemic, we must also take this opportunity fight for a future where everyone has equitable access to quality and affordable medical care.”

“Recognizing the contributions of public health workers and the need for a well-resourced public health infrastructure is especially critical this year as we grapple with limiting the short-term and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities,” said APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD.  “We thank Sen. Udall, Rep. Roybal-Allard, the co-chairs of the Congressional Public Health Caucus and all of the other original cosponsors for introducing this important resolution recognizing National Public Health Week and the important role public health plays in keeping our nation healthy and safe.  Their committed leadership and support for public health are essential to our goal of creating the healthiest nation in one generation.”

The House Resolution reads:

Supporting the goals and ideals of National Public Health Week.

Whereas the week of April 6, 2020, is National Public Health Week;

Whereas the theme for National Public Health Week in 2020 is ‘‘NPHW @ 25: Looking Back, Moving Forward.’’;

Whereas the goal of National Public Health Week in 2020 is to recognize the contributions of public health in—
  (1) improving the health of the people of the United States; and
  (2) achieving health equity;

Whereas, as of the date of introduction of this resolution, the United States and the global community are responding to the COVID–19 pandemic, which requires support for—
  (1) a robust public health workforce;
  (2) State, territorial, local, and Tribal health departments, health care workers, public health laboratories, and first responders;
  (3) diagnostic testing of new and potential COVID–19 cases and public health surveillance;
  (4) complying with appropriate social distancing and quarantine recommendations;
  (5) relieving financial burdens for individuals in the United States hurt by the COVID–19 pandemic, including public health emergency leave;
  (6) State Medicaid programs and community health centers to ensure care for vulnerable populations;
  (7) collaboration between the Federal Government, State and local governments, schools, businesses, and employers to support public health measures to decrease community spread of COVID–19; and
  (8) investment in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which support infectious disease outbreak preparedness and critical public health infrastructure for State and local health departments and public health laboratories;

Whereas, in 2018, the life expectancy for the population of the United States slightly increased for the first time in 4 years;

Whereas many of the leading causes of death for individuals in the United States result from chronic conditions, which are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health challenges; 

Whereas there are significant differences in the health status of individuals living in the most healthy States and those living in the least healthy States, including differences in obesity rates, the prevalence of chronic disease, and the prevalence of infectious disease;

Whereas racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States continue to experience disparities in the burden of illness and death, as compared with the entire population of the United States;

Whereas violence is a leading cause of premature death, and it is estimated that more than 7 individuals per hour die a violent death in the United States;

Whereas deaths from homicides cost the economy of the United States billions of dollars, and the violence of homicides can cause social and emotional distress, community trauma, injury, disability, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder;

Whereas emergency department visits for suicidal thoughts or self-harm increased 25.5 percent between January 2017 and December 2018, with substantial increases occurring in younger age groups;

Whereas an estimated 1 in 7 children in the United States experiences child abuse and neglect, which imposes an annual lifetime economic burden of approximately $428,000,000,000 on the population of the United States;

Whereas, despite significant progress in reducing the infant mortality rate in the United States to a historic low of 5.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017, the infant mortality rate in the United States greatly varies among States;

Whereas women die from pregnancy-related complications in the United States at a higher rate than in many other developed countries, and an estimated 60 percent of maternal deaths in the United States are preventable;

Whereas, although overall drug overdose deaths in the United States decreased 4.1 percent between 2017 and 2018, drug overdose deaths attributed to synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, increased by 10 percent during the same time period;

Whereas cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke;

Whereas the percentage of adults in the United States who smoke cigarettes has decreased from 20.9 percent of the population in 2005 to 13.7 percent of the population in 2018;

Whereas, according to data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, between 2017 and 2019, e-cigarette use—
  (1) more than doubled among high school students, rising from 11.7 percent to 27.5 percent; and
  (2) tripled among middle school students, rising from 3.3 percent to 10.5 percent;

Whereas, in 2016, fine particulate air pollution led to more than 64,000 premature deaths in the United States, and Black and Hispanic minorities were disproportionately impacted;

Whereas public health organizations use National Public Health Week to educate public policymakers and public health professionals on issues that are important to improving the health of the people of the United States;

Whereas studies show that small strategic investments in disease prevention can result in significant savings in health care costs;

Whereas vaccination is one of the most significant public health achievements in history and has resulted in substantial decreases in—
  (1) the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths associated with vaccine-preventable diseases; and
  (2) health care costs associated with vaccine-preventable diseases;

Whereas each 10 percent increase in local public health spending contributes to a—
  (1) 6.9 percent decrease in infant deaths;
  (2) 3.2 percent decrease in deaths related to cardiovascular disease;
  (3) 1.4 percent decrease in deaths due to diabetes; and
  (4) 1.1 percent decrease in cancer-related deaths;

Whereas public health professionals help communities prevent, prepare for, mitigate, and recover from the impact of a full range of health threats, including—
  (1) disease outbreaks, such as the COVID–19 pandemic;
  (2) natural disasters, such as wildfires, flooding, and severe storms; and
  (3) other disasters, including disasters caused by human activity and public health emergencies;

Whereas public health professionals collaborate with partners outside of the health sector, including city planners, transportation officials, education officials, and private sector businesses, recognizing that other sectors can influence health outcomes;

Whereas, in communities across the United States, individuals are changing the way they care for their health by avoiding tobacco use, eating healthier, increasing physical activity, and preventing unintentional injuries at home and in the workplace; and

Whereas efforts to adequately support public health and the prevention of disease and injury can continue to transform a health system focused on treating illness into a health system focused on preventing disease and injury and promoting wellness:

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
  (1) supports the goals and ideals of National Public Health Week;
  (2) recognizes the efforts of public health professionals, the Federal Government, States, Tribes, municipalities, local communities, and individuals in preventing disease and injury;
  (3) recognizes the role of public health in— 
    (A) preventing and responding to infectious disease outbreaks, such as the COVID–19 pandemic;
    (B) mitigating short-term and long-term impacts of infectious disease outbreaks on the health and wellness of individuals in the United States;
    (C) addressing social and other determinants of health, including health disparities experienced by minority populations; and
    (D) improving the overall health of individuals and communities in the United States;
  (4) encourages increased efforts and resources to—
    (A) improve the health of individuals in the United States; and 
    (B) make the United States, in 1 generation, the healthiest Nation in the world by—
      (i) providing greater opportunities to improve community health and prevent disease and injury; and
      (ii) strengthening the public health system in the United States; and
  (5) encourages the people of the United States to learn about the role of the public health system in improving health across the United States.

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Tags: Health