HHS.gov- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today over $40 million in grant funding, partly supported by the Affordable Care Act, to state, tribal, local and territorial health departments and several schools of public health to enhance the nation's public health infrastructure and strengthen the public health workforce. Awarded in nearly every state, this funding will improve the delivery of necessary public health services in communities, cities and states across the country.
"These funds will help health departments around the country maximize the impact of the essential services they provide every day, and build the public health workforce to ensure we're ready to meet the public health challenges of tomorrow," said Secretary Sebelius. "Strengthening our nation's public health system is critical to protecting the health of all Americans."
The grants will fund key state and local public health programs supported through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Most of these grant dollars come from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. Additional HRSA dollars supplement this investment.
This is the second year of CDC's 5-year program known as the National Public Health Improvement Initiative (NPHII) Strengthening Public Health Infrastructure for Improved Health Outcomes grant program. Over 100 people have already been hired through the NPHII and an additional 116 positions are expected to be filled through today's awards.
The NPHII funding allows health departments to improve the delivery and impact of the public health services they provide by improving how they track the performance of their programs; fostering the identification, dissemination and adoption of public health's best and most promising practices; building a network of performance improvement managers across the country that share strategies for improving the public health system; and maximizing cohesion across states' and communities' public health systems to ensure seamless and coordinated services for residents.
"A strong, efficient, and effective public health system is critical for building a healthy society," said CDC Director, Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "Investing in preventive services, system improvement and comprehensive interventions is essential to reducing the burden of health care costs in the future."
Today's awards will also support 10 Public Health Training Centers at accredited schools of public health and other public or non-profit institutions, bringing the total number of Public Health Training Centers to 37 across the country. HRSA's Public Health Training Center (PHTC) Program provides our nation's public health workforce education and training in areas such as environmental health, public health leadership, nutrition, and cultural competency. This expanded national educational network will provide highly-skilled training to nearly 500,000 public health and related healthcare practitioners.
"In a challenging economy, public health training and education are vital in our efforts to ensure access to affordable, high-quality health care," said Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., HRSA administrator. "These grants provide learning opportunities that enhance technical, scientific, managerial, and leadership skills of public health workers, and help build a strong, well-rounded public health workforce for the future."
Today's announcement is another part of the Obama Administration's broader effort to improve the health and well-being of our communities through initiatives such as the President's Childhood Obesity Task Force, the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign, the National Quality Strategy, and the National Prevention Strategy.