Cuts to health departments put the vulnerable at risk

April 07, 2010

The possibility of permanent cuts to Maryland's local health departments validates Dr. Barbara Brookmyer's real concerns for the viability of our on-the-ground public health infrastructure ("Md. cuts worry health officials," April 7).

The Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform has, to date, made site visits to eight of Maryland's local health departments. This is where basic health services such as immunizations for children, cancer screenings for seniors, substance abuse prevention for teens as well as emergency preparedness for epidemics take place. We have learned directly from our dedicated public servants there how difficult it has been for them to attempt to deliver even the most basic of public health services in these tough economic times.

Further cuts to Maryland's local health departments sorely undermine the health of our families, children and communities. Over time these cuts will undermine our children's futures, our workforce capacity and the prosperity of our state.

Waiting for the federal government to come to our rescue is not a viable solution to the responsibility of the state to serve the public's health. Our elected officials must find the means to stop the cuts to this most essential of state services: securing the health and well-being of Marylanders.

Anne S. Kasper and Leni Preston

The writers are chairwoman and vice chairwoman of the Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform.

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