The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) has released its top 10 state public health policy issues, an aggressive agenda that it hopes state legislatures will implement in 2024. Overall, ASTHO wants state governments to massively expand enforcement powers and taxpayer funding for a litany of mandatory public health initiatives.
Led by Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink, the powerful ASTHO includes more than 100,000 public health professionals across the nation. As president of the organization, Zink’s position has given her a national voice when it comes to U.S. health policy.
Under her leadership, the well-funded ASTHO is currently seeking to influence state lawmakers, here in Alaska and across the nation, with its top public health policies list.
Prior to unveiling these priorities, Dr. Zink posted a Facebook comment following an ASTHO leadership conference in which she helped finalize ASTHO’s priorities.
Zink called the gathering “A truly amazing conference.”
— Sexually Transmitted Infections Prevention: Expand youth sex-ed requirements, adopt laws to reduce STI rates, and increase treatment for HIV.
— Health Data Collection Modernization: Expand public health access to patients medical data via mandatory health exchanges, and require updates to public health data collection systems.
— Preventing Spread of Infectious Disease: Empower governmental authorities to control infectious disease through isolation and quarantine powers, and combat so-called “misinformation and disinformation.”
— Contraception and perinatal services: Magnify access to contraceptives and the availability of perinatal providers such as doulas and midwives.
— Data Collection: Modernize health data collection and sharing, improving rural healthcare, and invest in climate adaptation planning.
— Environmental Health: Empower states to address environmental health, and strengthen “food safety” enforcement policies.
— Overdose Prevention and Substance Misuse: Support “harm reduction efforts” like legalization and dissemination of fentanyl and xylazine test strips, expand access to peer recovery specialists, and strengthen regulation of substances with “potential for abuse.”
— Tobacco and Nicotine: Prohibit flavored tobacco products, promote more smoke-free environments, and decrease youth access to tobacco and nicotine.
— Workforce: Expand government funding for public health and healthcare workers, modify licensing requirements, streamline hiring, and invest in workforce pathway programs.
— Mental Health: Provide greater investments in suicide prevention, expand youth mental health programs, and increase research on psychedelic substances to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and other disorders.