Few would argue the fact that Arizona’s health problems are getting bigger, which makes continued shrinking of the public health sector such a head scratcher. In December we documented just how silly things have become, and the media have noticed it too. State funding has largely disappeared. Federal funding has more twists and turns than one of your favorite roller coasters.
One explanation is that public health has worked its way out of a job, or at least has been successful enough to make itself nearly invisible. If population health weren’t a moving target this might be okay, but it is. Cuts have resulted in loss of talent, skills and expertise – as well as laughable $12 per capita spending on public health in Maricopa County vs. a $65 national average.
Public health’s successes may have ironically relegated it lower on the importance scale, but a menu of growing threats like obesity argue for a change in direction. Rather than permit an incredible shrinking workforce, it’s time to invest with more consistent and strategic funding. Thinking smaller about public health is a bad idea, but investing in it to get others to become smaller is a great one.