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Public health services get crunched by budget woes

The Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2011

Immunizations, emergency preparations for hurricanes, and restaurant inspections are among local public-health services being cut back or eliminated amid budget constraints. Some 55% of the nation's county and city health departments reduced or eliminated at least one program between July 2010 and June 2011, and the public-health workforce continued to shrink, according to a new survey by the National Association of County and City Health Officials. The cuts hit maternal and child health services (at 21% of the departments reporting cuts), personal health services (20%), emergency preparedness (20%), chronic disease screenings (17%), and food safety (11%), among other programs. Health departments lost 5,400 jobs in the first half of this year, after losing 6,000 in all of 2010. There are currently about 120,600 local health department employees across the country after those cutbacks.