20 new policies adopted by American Public Health Association

The American Public Health Association recently adopted 20 policies addressing a broad range of issues in public health from underage alcohol consumption and nutrition labeling in restaurants to the supply of flu vaccinations and threats to immigrants’ health care. The Association also approved an operational measure in support of smoke-free cities.

The following are brief descriptions of the measures approved by the Association’s Governing Council during its 132 nd Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Nov. 6-10, 2004. The descriptions are brief summaries; full language of the 2004 policies is available at http://www.apha.org/legislative/policy/policysearch/.

  • Reducing underage alcohol consumption – Urges actions such as a federally funded anti-alcohol media campaign, better data collection on youth alcohol use and more research into effective strategies to reduce underage drinking.
  • Reducing health disparities in people with disabilities – Calls for federal funding for disability and environmental surveillance and research, the use of standardized disability-related identifiers on health status surveys, training students and health professionals on the needs of people with disabilities and the removal of barriers to public health programs.
  • Workplace violence prevention – Calls for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to establish an enforceable standard on occupational violence prevention, increased funding for workplace violence prevention, individualized violence prevention programs specific to each workplace and improved regulation and outreach to at-risk occupations and industries.
  • Supporting health-promoting land use and transportation systems — Supports transportation and land use legislation and regulations that support public health, calls for improving public and public health participation in transportation and land use decisions, supports research evaluating the built environment’s effects on public health and calls for better data collection on the availability, use and users of non-motorized transportation.
  • Preventing exposure to flame retardants — Calls on state and federal governments to require phase-out of polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardant use in all products manufactured and sold in the United States, consider policies to alleviate short-term economic impacts on the industry work force, require labeling of chemical flame retardants used in products and regulate the safe disposal of products containing brominated flame retardants.
  • Supporting a secure, sustainable, health-protective energy policy — Advocates a transition to a global energy strategy that includes the promotion of energy conservation, supports legislation and regulations to reduce adverse health impacts and to mitigate global climate change, calls on the U.S. government to lead a collaborative, international process to promote a secure and sustainable energy system, and recommends public education on environmental health and global security effects of energy policy.
  • Support for change to the Uniform Individual Accident and Sickness Policy Provision Law — Calls for state legislatures and state insurance commissioners to adopt an amendment that would prohibit insurers from denying payment for treatment of alcohol-related injuries.
  • Correctional health care standards and accreditation — Encourages all correctional systems to adopt APHA’s correctional health care standards and to become accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
  • Promoting public health and education goals through coordinated school health programs — Supports the goals of the Coordinated School Health Program Model: a healthy school environment, comprehensive health education, a quality physical education program, school health services provided by qualified professionals, school nutrition services, including access to a variety of nutritious foods, school counseling and psychological services, health promotion for school staff, and family and community involvement.
  • Attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and HIV-related research and service delivery — Urges Congress to investigate attempts to undermine the federal scientific peer-review process and to cease all actions that jeopardize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender as well as HIV-related research and service delivery programs.
  • Threats to public health science — Opposes legislation or policies that attempt to define valid public health science, supports efforts of scientific organizations to use the best available science to protect the public’s health and urges legal support for proper application of scientific principles.
  • Support for community-based participatory research — Calls for public and private support for community-based participatory research, public and private support for training in such research, a fair distribution of research resources and for policy-makers to engage community-based research partnerships in policy creation and evaluation.
  • Stimulating demand for meats produced without excessive antibiotics — Calls for increased awareness among health care institutions and public health organizations of the contribution of non-therapeutic agricultural antibiotic use to the problem of antibiotic resistance and for bulk foodstuffs purchasers to adopt policies that encourage buying antibiotic-free meat, fish and dairy products.
  • Nutrition labeling in fast-food and other chain restaurants — Urges government policies that require fast-food and chain restaurants to provide nutrition information to consumers, calls for programs that teach people how to use nutrition information and calls on restaurants to improve the nutritional quality of menu offerings.
  • The following six policies were passed as latebreakers and will serve as interim policies until confirmed by the APHA Governing Council at its 2005 meeting.
  • Condemning health professionals’ participation in physical and mental abuse and torture of military prisoners and detainees — Condemns health professionals’ participation in, cooperation with or failure to report the mental or physical abuse, sexual degradation or torture of prisoners or detainees, urges health professionals to report abuse, supports rights of health workers to be protected from retribution by refusing to participate in abuse and urges ethical conduct training for health students.
  • Federal responsibility to set and enforce standards to protect children from lead in candy — Calls on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to set a lead enforcement standard in all candy and to take aggressive enforcement action when its lead standards are exceeded, supports prevention and education programs and the monitoring and surveillance of blood lead levels in participants of public health programs such as Women, Infants and Children.
  • Supporting the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health — Encourages anti-obesity efforts such as aggressive plans to implement the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, public and private funding for applied research to identify and disseminate effective anti-obesity messages and new policies banning misleading advertising and marketing aimed at luring children to eat junk food.
  • Developing a comprehensive public health approach to influenza vaccination — Encourages funding and staff training to allow public health agencies and hospitals to conduct planning and response necessary to respond to influenza vaccine shortages, encourages the promotion of a single public health voice on health education and infection prevention strategies, urges the federal government to formulate voluntary guidelines for vaccine distribution in the event of future shortages and calls on Congress and the president to support a federal vaccine purchasing program for uninsured adults.
  • Supporting the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health — Recommends the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health director continue to report directly to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and that CDC keep NIOSH’s budget as a separate line item and make no changes in the agency’s operating procedures.
  • Responding to threats to immigrants’ health care — Warns against measures curtailing, eliminating or disrupting health care to undocumented immigrants; asserts the duty of health workers in providing health care and improving the public’s health; and pledges to help strengthen efforts to repeal laws that make cuts to immigrants’ health care.

The Governing Council also passed a procedural measure in support of smoke-free cities. Under the measure, all future APHA Annual Meetings beyond those already contracted by the Association will be held in smoke-free cities unless an exception is made by its Executive Board. Full language of this measure is available at http://www.apha.org/news/press/2004/oppolicy_121704.htm.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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