SILVER SPRING, MD – The American Nurses Association (ANA) supports significant reinvestment in our nation’s public health infrastructure and workforce, which have been chronically underfunded for decades. The nation is better equipped with preparedness and response measures with a robust public health infrastructure and workforce not only during times of crisis, but to address the overall health and well-being of populations. As a nation, we must course correct immediately and commit to a steady and sufficient reinvestment in public health.
ANA calls on all levels of government to support public health in a manner that extends far beyond disaster preparedness and emergency response. We cannot continue to shortchange a system that is dedicated to meeting the challenges of COVID-19, the worst pandemic in a century, while at the same time addressing other public health demands. These include, but are not limited to, accessing immunizations, preventing chronic illness and substance use disorders, and building equitable prevention programs to close health disparity gaps.
While all areas of the public health workforce are critical to protect the health of our population, our public health nursing workforce touches every aspect of health care and community wellbeing. Possessing a select set of knowledge and skills, public health nurses are the most nimble of the public health workforce –ready to assume a range of roles that span providing direct clinical services to collaborating with community members across sectors to integrate and coordinate care and leadership in a variety of public health arenas, such as health departments or community-based clinics, etc. With their interdisciplinary colleagues, our well-educated and licensed public health nurses play an integral role in narrowing disparities, improving health outcomes, and reducing disproportionately high morbidity and mortality rates among vulnerable populations due to preventable illness.
Hurricanes, floods, the opioid crisis, and pandemics are not new. Trends indicate these threats are intensifying over time. Now is the time, as the United States begins to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, to look to the future and begin to rebuild our formerly strong public health infrastructure and workforce, where public health nurses serve as the first line of prevention in mitigating threats to the health of the U.S. population.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's 4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information, visit www.nursingworld.org.