Skip Navigation LinksHome > November 2009 - Volume 15 - Issue 6 > Protecting and Promoting the Nation's Health: The Environmen...
Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181b3492d
Article

Protecting and Promoting the Nation's Health: The Environmental Public Health Workforce as a Critical Component

Resnick, Beth A. MPH; Zablotsky, Joanna PhD, MPH; Burke, Thomas A. PhD, MPH

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Abstract

Introduction: The practice of environmental public health (EPH)—ensuring food, water, and sanitation protections—is the traditional cornerstone of public health. From foodborne illness outbreaks to chemical emergencies, drinking water safety to extreme weather events, our state and local EPH professionals are essential to the nation's overall health.

Challenges: Myriad challenges exist to ensure a strong, robust EPH workforce. Funding, recruitment, training, retention, retirement, and lack of public and political support threaten EPH workforce enhancements.

Opportunities: Even in these challenging times, promising EPH opportunities abound. The Obama administration's agendas for alternative energy and climate change, students' renewed interest in public health practice and government service, technological and scientific advances, and increased public awareness of EPH threats offer opportunities to fortify the EPH workforce.

Recommendations and Conclusions: We must act now to enhance EPH infrastructure and training to ensure safe food and water, healthy air, and protection from environmental threats. Future success will depend on new approaches, strengthened leadership, and coordinated efforts among all levels of EPH programs. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to reshape and strengthen the EPH workforce and ensure continued leadership in protecting the environment and the public's health.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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