NACCHO Study: Local Health Departments’ Capacity to Respond to Zika Infections in Pregnant Women

A newly released study of local jurisdictions developed by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), discovered that while local health departments have responded diligently to Zika outbreaks in their communities and are heavily engaged in protecting maternal child health, there is room for improvement. Importantly, continued federal funding to support these efforts is vitally needed to safeguard the nation’s health. Congress has proposed eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), which provides funding to local jurisdictions through the CDC.

The assessment, Maternal Child Health Capacity for Zika Response surveyed local health departments in 10 priority states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, and Texas, and showed:

  • Maternal Child Health (MHC) programs are deeply vested in multiple areas of the Zika response. LHDs are providing a high rate of education and provider engagement.
  • There are strong formal and informal processes both internally between programmatic areas and externally with key community providers.
  • Opportunities for action around infrastructure support include access to electronic lab results, which increase reporting and developing resources for strengthening networks of community providers and LHDs, focusing on birth defects and pregnancy-related conditions.

Here are the study’s key findings:

  • More than 80% of LHDs have formal and/or informal communication and referral mechanisms between their MCH programs and key programmatic areas within their agency.
  • A total of 78% of LHDs have access to electronic lab results.
  • LHDs are actively engaged in community-level response activities.
  • LHDs are less likely to provide screening and testing services to identify potential birth defects in infants.

View our full press release to learn more about the study and view NACCHO’s recommendations.

About Kim Rodgers

Kim Rodgers serves as a Communications Specialist at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices, as well as partner tools and resources, in infectious disease and preparedness through NACCHO's communications channels, storytelling, and outreach to various audiences.

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