Accelerating Improvements to the Local Public Health System: SAPHE 2.0
Despite the dedication of our state’s local health staff and volunteers, the Commonwealth’s decentralized approach to delivering public health services leads to extreme variability in protections across municipalities — and this puts the entire state at risk. Now is the time to move rapidly to transform our local public health system to adequately protect Massachusetts residents from the continuing threat of COVID-19 variants and to meet future public health challenges.
MPHA is currently working with a coalition of public health leaders, elected officials, and community organizations to urge the Legislature to pass the Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community Act (SAPHE 2.0). This critical legislation would build on the consensus recommendations of the Special Commission on Local and Regional Health by:
- Establishing Minimum Public Health Standards for Every Community,
- Increasing Capacity and Effectiveness by Encouraging Municipalities to Share Services,
- Creating a Uniform Data Collection and Reporting System, and
- Providing Sustainable State Funding.
The time has come to create a public health system that provides ALL Massachusetts residents with high-quality public health protections – regardless of their race, income or ZIP Code. Click here to learn more here.
Supporting the Coalition for Local Public Health
The Coalition for Local Public Health is dedicated to promoting healthy communities in Massachusetts through strong Boards of Health and Health Departments. These local agencies provide foundational protections, including food and housing safety, communicable disease control, and protection from harmful lead exposure. Our member organizations are the MA Association of Health Boards, MA Association of Public Health Nurses, MA Environmental Health Association, MA Health Officers Association, and Western MA Public Health Association. Together, we represent over 4,900 citizens and professionals working to support the Commonwealth’s local health infrastructure.
Passing the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Bill – Signed into Law on 4/29/20!
For many years, our local public health system has faced significant structural and financial challenges, making it difficult for municipalities to meet their regulatory obligations to safeguard our food, water, and air quality; ensure safe and healthy housing conditions; and control communicable diseases. The SAPHE Law, now in statute as Chapter 72 of the Acts of 2020, An Act Relative to Strengthening the Local and Regional Public Health System, creates a voluntary grant-based approach to improving the local public health system. It takes the first steps in implementing the recommendations of the Special Commission on Local & Regional Public Health by increasing training for members of the local public health workforce and providing incentives to cities and towns to encourage the sharing of services across municipal boundaries.
Preventing Childhood Lead Poisoning
Childhood lead poisoning is a persistent and pervasive problem that affect hundreds of families across the Commonwealth each year. Due to the age of the housing stock in Massachusetts, lead paint is present in the majority of homes. In addition, drinking water in more than half of public school taps tested since 2016 contains unacceptably high lead levels. Stark racial and economic inequities exist in the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning, and current funding is insufficient to respond to existing cases or to implement a comprehensive strategy to prevent lead poisoning in the future.
To address this critical need, MPHA is advocating to provide funding for the DPH Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPP) to both eliminate the current backlog of families with lead poisoned children that are awaiting services, and re-institute a proactive prevention program that will work with medical providers, landlords, housing authorities, and others to identify and mitigate hazards before lead poisoning occurs. In addition, we are supporting legislation to remove lead from the water at all schools and child care centers, and working to ensure adequate funding for the Get the Lead Out Loan Program, which provides zero and low interest loans for the removal of lead paint from residences.