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News >Advocacy > Connecting FPHS Successes to State Policy

Connecting FPHS Successes to State Policy

Over the last several years, our State Legislature has made significant investments in our governmental public health system.
15 Feb 2024



Over the last several years, our State Legislature has made significant investments in our governmental public health system. These investments have built up our core public health programs and services – the Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS). At the local level, investments have meant bringing back past programs cut because of budget constraints, innovations in data technology, frequent and community-oriented communication, and service coordination across jurisdictions. Another great outcome of improved capacity at the local level has been identifying ways that policy change can further support and improve health outcomes.

A couple of ways this session’s policies connect to FPHS:

Through FPHS investments, local health jurisdictions’ capacity to respond, investigate, and control communicable disease threats and outbreaks has increased significantly over the past five years. This has been critical as rates of STI and Hepatitis have increased dramatically over the last decade, and new strategies to address the spread of these diseases are needed. In 2022, the Department of Health published The STI & HBV Legislative Advisory Group Recommendations with several high-priority policy recommendations.  WSALPHO brought forth one of these recommendations this session through SB 5983 that we believe would fill gaps in healthcare, reduce cases of syphilis among high-risk populations, and reduce cases of congenital syphilis. While the treatment of STIs itself is outside of the FPHS scope, being able to understand how rates are changing, building stronger partnerships with healthcare, and enhancing education around STIs complements healthcare efforts – providing a more comprehensive approach to reducing the burden of these diseases.

Over the last year, more LHJs have been establishing child fatality review teams. These teams, funded through FPHS, now number 17 across the state – and that number continues to grow. These teams are an important community tool in the development of child injury and death prevention strategies. As local public health, we are grateful that FPHS has been able to build up this capacity across the state, and as more local coordinators are hired, a couple of areas within the existing statute have been identified that are ambiguous, out of sync with other state fatality review statutes, and include outdated language per federal guidance. SB 6110 seeks to modernize and clear up these ambiguities. These issues would have likely continued had our system not expanded this program.

Environmental health is a policy area that is heavily regulated through statutes (RCWs) and rules (WACs). Public health is braided throughout several smaller areas within environmental policy, including water, permitting, sanitation, hazard, and nuisance control.  Every session, there are several bills that have a broad environmental focus with smaller public health components. Just a few environmental bills that have public health components:

  • HB 2207: Solid Waste Dumping. Local health jurisdictions work with solid waste programs to prevent illegal dumping, particularly around water sources and vulnerable habitats.
  • HB 2070: Environmental justice/SEPA projects. A core value of public health is equity, recognizing that health disparities exist in our communities, and public health works to bring awareness and intention to address these disparities.
  • SB 6163: Biosolids. Emerging issues like PFAS draw a lot of public attention. Public health takes a critical role in developing health and safety standards, communicating risks, and helping communities mitigate these issues.

FPHS has invested specifically in environmental health policy at the local level, dedicating resources so that local environmental public health programs have dedicated staff to develop local recommendations on policies and inform state policies with a public health perspective.

We are grateful that FPHS has enabled public health to build their local experts, expand capacity in critical functions, and help inform policy change. We look forward to continuing to bridge our local FPHS successes with our state policymakers!

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