August 27, 2008
APHA Calls for Robust Work Force Programs
As worker shortages threaten public health's ability to take on growing threats to the nation's health, it is more important than ever that national policy-makers move quickly to ensure a robust public health work force, APHA and fellow advocates told members of Congress in May. Public health workers, from nurses to nutritionists to epidemiologists, are retiring faster than they can be replaced, the letter stated, with 50,000 fewer public health workers in 2000 than there were in 1980. To help rebuild the work force, advocates called on Congress to support the Public Health Preparedness Workforce Development Act of 2008, also known as H.R. 5496. The legislation supports scholarships and loan repayment programs for public health students and graduates in exchange for work in the public health sector, creates a federal database of available public health positions and helps match applicants to a well-suited position, and encourages partnerships between public health schools and local public health departments to expose students to real-life public health work.
"Investing in the public health work force is costeffective because of our community's focus on prevention," according to the letter, which was initiated by APHA and the Association of Schools of Public Health. "Avoiding and managing diseases before they become pandemic, planning for disasters and encouraging good nutrition and health care save not only lives but money spent on treatment and recovery. This is money wisely spent." Copyright American Public Health Association Aug 2008
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