We applaud the Globe for endorsing legislation to update the network of local public health departments, policies, and practices to meet the current and future needs of every municipality in the Commonwealth (“Massachusetts’ 351 health departments means inefficiency — and unfairness,” Editorial, Sept. 17).
We call upon the Legislature to act now to pass the State Accelerated Public Health for Every Community Act, or SAPHE 2.0. The lack of standards and state funding for public health has left too many communities vulnerable to unsafe food, water, housing, and myriad public health emergencies. Bottom line, SAPHE 2.0 will help lower costs across the system, and using public funds to invest in public health delivery on an annual basis rather than being unprepared to respond to a crisis will be more efficient, effective, and equitable. And let’s not fool ourselves: Those public health emergencies — climate change, overdose deaths, etc. — are at our doorstep right now.
Municipalities are ready to upgrade the quality of services they deliver. Local health departments have shown that innovative collaborations work. We need to build on their efforts and create a flexible and nimble public health system staffed by trained professionals. Recent history has taught us we cannot afford to miss this moment.
Our state smartly used an infusion of resources through American Rescue Plan funds to go beyond the proverbial Band-Aid and committed significant dollars to invest in infrastructure. Through SAPHE 2.0, we can build on this progress and fortify a public health system worthy of the 21st century.
Mayor Paul Brodeur
The writer is chair of Metro Mayors Coalition.
The writer is president and CEO of Health Resources in Action and Massachusetts Public Health Association Board president.
The writer is executive director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.