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As we enter the year 2004, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is pleased to introduce itself to readers of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. In future editions of the journal, "News from NACCHO" will feature topical information on effective local public health practices drawn from the work of our members-local public health officials.


NACCHO's mission is to support efforts that protect and improve the health of all people and all communities by promoting national policy, developing resources and programs, seeking health equity, and supporting effective local public health practice and systems. Following is a selection of NACCHO's work on behalf of local public health during the past year.


NACCHO released four resources last year to assist local public health agencies (LPHAs) in planning for bioterrorism and emergency response activities.


1. The National Pharmaceutical Stockpile (NFS): A Reference/or Local Planners-a brief guide to help local health officials and their partners develop a distribution and dispensing plan for their communities


2. Local Centers for Public Health Preparedness: A Resource Catalog for Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response


3. A guide on CD-ROM entitled, Bt PREP: A Bioterrorism Response Plan for Local Public Health Systems, in conjunction with Scientific Technologies Corporation, that includes templates, checklists, and planning pointers to assist LPHAs in creating a thorough bioterrorism and emergency response plan, as well as the capacity to plan responses for a variety of public health threats and emergencies


4. An interactive CD-ROM entitled, Bt CREATE: A Customizable Bioterrorism Tabletop Exercise Builder, in collaboration with the DeKalb County (GA) Board of Health's Center for Public Health Preparedness



NACCHO continues to provide training on Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP), a community-wide strategic planning tool for improving community health; Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH), a community-based environmental health assessment; and Making Strategic Decisions About Service Delivery: An Action Tool for Assessment and Transitioning, a workbook designed to assist local public health agencies (LPHAs) in examining changes in the health care environment and assessing their appropriate role in the community related to service provision.


With the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, NACCHO awarded grants to rural communities in Arizona, Montana, and North Carolina to support and advance their efforts to achieve health equity by addressing the social determinants of health in rural America.


NACCHO has participated in numerous immunization policy activities to address the influenza vaccine supply and safety, smallpox vaccination guidelines, and other immunization-related issues. We convened a series of monthly conference calls for LPHAs and CDC's National Immunization Program (NIP) staff, represented NACCHO at a host of immunization-related national meetings, and tracked and informed members of relevant issues through e-mails and publications.


NACCHO is at the forefront of research conducted on behalf of LPHAs. Our work has informed federal policy makers at critical times and ensured that the concerns of LPHAs were addressed. We created a Sentinel Health Department process that identified 48 local health officials from different states to monitor implementation of the Guidance for fiscal year 2004 (FY04) Supplemental Funds for Public Health Preparedness and Response for Bioterrorism. Issue briefs were developed on LPHAs' abilities to respond to terrorism and other public health threats and emergencies since September 11, 2001, and the challenges that lie ahead, as well as the degree to which federal funding for bioterrorism preparedness is meeting local needs. Other pertinent data were collected in two Web-based surveys of LPHAs, including information on LPHAs experiences with the smallpox vaccination program.


Advocacy and grassroots efforts for local public health were highly successful last year. NACCHO disseminated action alerts on topics including: FY03 and FY04 appropriations for state and local public health capacities and Health Alert Network (HAN); funding for the smallpox vaccination program and the Department of Homeland Security; FY03 funding for programs related to the West Nile virus; and FDA regulation of tobacco products. More than 2,600 letters reached lawmakers as a result of NACCHO's action alerts, resulting in a 50 percent increase over the previous year. In addition, 100 percent of strategically targeted members of Congress received letters from NACCHO members opposing the transfer of CDC's grant program to build state and local public health capacities at the new Department of Homeland Security. NACCHO also developed a targeted HAN funding grassroots campaign that led to 100 percent participation by its members in one critical district. These activities were critical to legislative successes achieved by NACCHO and its partners in keeping bioterrorism preparedness programs at CDC, garnering $100 million additional funding to cover the costs of the smallpox vaccination program and to sustain the HAN program.


The Workforce and Leadership Development Advisory Committee was established to help guide NACCHO's workforce development. Project Public Health Ready, a collaboration between NACCHO, the CDC, and Columbia University, was developed to ensure that the nation's public health workforce is ready to respond to emergencies. One major component of Project Public Health Ready is a bioterrorism preparedness certification program for LPHAs nationwide. We kicked off 12 Public Health Ready pilot project sites that are working with their state public health agencies, Academic Centers for Public Health Preparedness, and other partners to develop core public health preparedness competencies.


NACCHO also developed an Incident Command System (ICS) Training Course curriculum, a collaborative project with NACCHO, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the CDC, and members of the local Centers for Public Health Preparedness. Trainings were held to orient LPHA staff on their roles in the integrated emergency management system and to build workers' competencies in emergency preparedness. More than 500 public health workers have been trained in ICS and/or core competencies of emergency preparedness since the project was launched.


NACCHO worked with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the Association of Schools of Public Health, and other national partners on the Public Health Workforce Collaborative to identify "Public Health 101" orientation courses and to discuss the possibility of a certificate program for new public health workers who take such courses.


This overview provides a glimpse of the work NACCHO engages in, on behalf of, and with local public health officials. As you read in detail about various effective public health practices through "News from NACCHO" in future editions of the journal and are interested in becoming more connected as an active member of our association, please contact Charisse Raysor at (202) 783-5550, extension 218, or at [email protected]. Information on the various programs, projects, and resources mentioned is available online at