Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) have introduced resolutions in Congress to recognize April 4-10 as National Public Health Week 2016. Congresswoman Roybal-Allard and her fellow co-chairs of the Congressional Public Health Caucus, Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12), Congressman Gene Green (TX-29), Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), and Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), led the effort in the House of Representatives, and were joined by 12 other members as original co-sponsors of the House resolution.
Since 1995, National Public Health Week has been an occasion for public health organizations to promote awareness of the importance of public health and to build support for strategies to meet America’s public health needs. The theme for this year’s National Public Health Week is “Healthiest Nation 2030,” emphasizing a goal of making America the healthiest nation in one generation. National Public Health Week is organized by the American Public Health Association (APHA).
“It is a travesty that the United States, one of the wealthiest nations, continues to rank behind many other developed countries in critical measures of health, including life expectancy and maternal mortality. National Public Health Week reminds us that we must do a better job of eliminating disparities in disease exposure and health status between states and between communities,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, a member of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, and a 2009 recipient of the APHA’s Distinguished Public Health Legislator of the Year Award. “If we are to achieve our goal of making America the healthiest nation in one generation, our disease-focused health care system must be transformed into a system that prioritizes wellness and disease prevention. That is why we are indebted to our nation’s public health professionals for their leadership in promoting healthier lifestyles and preventing disease and injury in our communities. The Public Health Caucus is proud to partner with the American Public Health Association in its efforts to build a healthier future for all Americans.”
“This National Public Health Week, we’re focused on how we can put the United States on track to becoming the healthiest nation in one generation,” said Senator Udall. “It’s a particularly important goal in New Mexico, where too many people struggle with poverty, addiction, and poor access to quality health care. I commend the public health professionals who are on the front lines tackling these issues, and I believe that each of us can do more to help improve our own health and that of our communities. By working together to raise awareness of the benefits of healthy living and disease prevention, we can boost our economy and save lives.”
“During this year’s National Public Health Week, American communities came together to celebrate the role of public health in our daily lives, highlight the conditions that shape our health and well-being, and learn about the power of cross-sector partnerships in creating the healthiest nation,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. “Everyone has a role in creating healthier communities, which is why we’re so grateful to Sen. Udall, Rep. Roybal-Allard, the bipartisan Congressional Public Health Caucus, and their colleagues in the Senate and House, for supporting the 2016 National Public Health Week resolutions. The resolutions not only recognize our dedicated public health workers, but serve as a reminder that efforts to protect and improve the nation’s health are as important as ever.”
“There has been plenty of evidence that outbreaks of diseases around the world can quickly cause health concerns in our country,” said Congresswoman Granger. “Our public health system contributes to the safety and well-being of our citizens by keeping our communities informed of and prepared for potential risks. The Congressional Public Health Caucus encourages everyone to take part in Public Health Week 2016.”
“Public health remains the bedrock of our well-being and quality of life,” said Congressman Green. “We know from outbreaks like the Zika virus and measles, that robust and smart public health infrastructure has never been more vital. It is critical to helping people stay healthy, better preventing chronic disease and lessening the incidences of preventable deaths though screenings, vaccines and life-style programs that support overall health and wellness. National Public Health Week, and our newly established Public Health Caucus, play a vital role in informing the public about the importance of public health and how to be proactive.”
“Supporting healthy families starts with a strong investment in public health,” said Congressman McGovern. “National Public Health Week is an opportunity for us to recognize the incredible work done by our country’s public health agencies. America’s public health agencies are our first line of defense against the spread of disease and in an interconnected world where international travel is easier than ever, there has never been a more important time to ensure that these agencies have the resources they need to keep our communities healthy and safe. I am proud to support this mission as a co-chair of the Public Health Caucus and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us.”
“As our public health needs change and evolve, it’s so important for Congress to take an active role in addressing those needs,” said Congressman Wittman. “National Public Health Week plays a crucial role in that effort. It gives me and my colleagues in the Congressional Public Health Caucus the opportunity to engage with Members of Congress and the public at large about public health effects in our communities. We all have to take an active role in addressing our public health needs, and I believe that a commitment to reducing healthcare costs in the United States and focusing on prevention can make us the healthiest nation in the world and eliminate long-term costs.”
The House Resolution reads:
Supporting the goals and ideals of National Public Health Week.
Whereas the week of April 4, 2016, through April 10, 2016, was National Public Health Week;
Whereas the theme for National Public Health Week in 2016 was ‘‘Healthiest Nation 2030’’, with the goal of making the United States the healthiest nation in one generation;
Whereas public health organizations use National Public Health Week to educate the public, policymakers, and public health professionals on issues that are important to improving the health of the people of the United States;
Whereas the value of a strong public health system is in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the places where we all live, learn, work, and play;
Whereas there is a significant difference in the health status, such as obesity, poor mental health and infectious disease, of people living in the healthiest States compared to people living in the least healthy States;
Whereas public health professionals help communities prevent, prepare for, withstand, and recover from the impact of a full range of health threats, including disease outbreaks such as the Zika virus, natural disasters, and disasters caused by human activity;
Whereas public health professionals collaborate with partners that are not in the health sector, such as city planners, transportation officials, education officials, and private sector businesses, recognizing that other sectors have an important influence on health;
Whereas according to the National Academy of Medicine, despite being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the United States ranks below many other economically prosperous and developing countries with respect to measures of health, including life expectancy, infant mortality rates, low birth weight rates, and the rate of drug-related deaths, which has increased 200 percent since 2000 for overdose deaths involving opioids;
Whereas studies show that small strategic investments in prevention can result in significant savings in health care costs;
Whereas each 10 percent increase in local public health spending contributes to a 6.9 percent decrease in infant deaths, a 3.2 percent decrease in deaths related to cardiovascular disease, a 1.4 percent decrease in deaths due to diabetes, and a 1.1 percent decrease in cancer-related deaths;
Whereas in communities across the country, more people are changing the way they care for their health by avoiding tobacco use, eating healthier, becoming more physically active, and preventing unintentional injuries at home and in the workplace;
Whereas despite having a high infant mortality rate compared to other economically prosperous and developing countries, and the death rate varying greatly among states, overall the United States is making steady progress, with the infant mortality rate reaching a historic low of 5.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014;
Whereas the percentage of adults smoking cigarettes in the United States, the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, decreased from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 16.8 percent in 2014; and
Whereas efforts to adequately support public health and prevention can continue to transform a health system focused on treating illness to a health system focused on preventing disease and promoting wellness: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
- supports the goals and ideals of National Public Health Week;
- recognizes the efforts of public health professionals, the Federal Government, States, tribes, municipalities, local communities, and individuals in preventing disease and injury;
- recognizes the role of public health in improving the health of individuals in the United States;
- encourages increased efforts and resources to improve the health of people in the United States to create the healthiest nation in one generation through—
- greater opportunities to improve community health and prevent disease and injury; and
- strengthening the public health system in the United States; and
- encourages the people of the United States to learn about the role of the public health system in improving health in the United States.