Funding Public Health Should Always Be a Priority

April 16, 2020

ARLINGTON, VA—Michael Fraser, chief executive officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), issued the following statement today in response to the Trust for America’s Health report, The Impact of Chronic Underfunding on America’s Public Health System: Trends, Risks and Recommendations, 2020.

“The mission of our nation’s governmental health agencies is to protect and improve the health of the population, everywhere, every day. The work of public health is often invisible, and sometimes it is only in a crisis when the value and importance of sustained investment in public health becomes apparent. Those crises, unfortunately, happen all too often: the current 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, measles and hepatitis A outbreaks, natural disasters, rising obesity rates, the opioid epidemic, and many others highlight the important work of disease prevention and health protection that is at the core of public health’s mission.

"As this report clearly illustrates, our nation tends to fund public health through the lens of a crisis. This feast or famine approach creates uncertainty and an underlying crumbling infrastructure for public health. While ASTHO appreciates emergency supplemental bills to address the current COVID-19 pandemic, Congress must redouble their efforts to value all components of public health which can be achieved through the appropriations bills. Annually, public health officials urge Congress and the Administration to prioritize funding for public health and this is a central pillar of ASTHO and 100 organizations 22 by 22 advocacy campaign to enhance funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention top line allocation 22 percent by FY22. It is only through a sustained, increased, and predictable investments in public health that we can achieve our goal to advance health equity and provide optimal health to all.”


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.