Local and state health departments have the legal authority and responsibility to ensure and protect the health and safety of their residents. As communities around the country respond to any number of outbreaks and threats, our members work to stop the spread of the disease with a premium on how to prevent it in the first place.
The Coalition's Work
As we have seen with outbreaks such as Zika, Ebola, and mumps and measles, city health departments play an essential role in stopping the spread of infectious disease. Diseases spread more rapidly than ever due to more frequent travel and increased exposure, thus strengthening cities ability to respond is especially important now. Adequate funding must be provided to local and state agencies in order to create and maintain systems that can effectively prevent and respond to outbreaks, as well as help communities recover faster. Cutting public health funding is an annual affair, and relying on emergency preparedness dollars once a crisis strikes is inefficient and leads to undue suffering.
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The Houston Health Department truly understands that if you want to affect behavior you must reach out to those whose behavior you want to change, not wait for them to come to you. Otherwise, you may never reach them. That’s the motivation behind Houston Hits Home, a public health initiative targeting some of the highest risk groups for HIV—youth of color—to get them tested so they know their status.
How do you do that?