PHILADELPHIA. Public health officials from around the nation are gathered in Philadelphia this week to discuss threat

What isn’t being done that needs to be to make and keep our water supply safe?
I think the first thing is a recognition of how important water is to human health. We’ve got a lot of challenges. We have water. We are fortunate that as a nation that in most parts of this country, not all by the way, you can go in your bathroom or kitchen and simply turn the faucet and get clean water to drink. There are parts of this country and many parts of the world, where that isn’t a given. Water is becoming scarce in a lot of places, lots of foreign countries, they’re having water challenges because the environment is changing. We even had a huge conflict in the South over water. Often out West there are challenges around water. There are many people that think we need to think about water as the precious resource that it is.

What does the APHA see as the current greatest public health threat in urban areas of America?
I think there are many. Obviously, we talked about water. I think the biggest threat is non-support of the core public health infrastructure, that means having enough people well trained with the right tools on a consistent basis to protect the public’s health. We have consistently under-invested in public health. We’re hoping that as we begin to relook at our public health we pay a lot of attention to public health infrastructure and try to build it in a sustainable manner.

What is the position of the APHA on the health care reform measure passed by the House Saturday night? Does it go too far? Not far enough?
We absolutely support the bill passed by the House. We think it’s a good step forwards, we think it certainly can be approved upon. ...I think we would of loved to have a stronger public health option, we would have not liked to have the restrictions on a woman’s right to choose that were put into the bill. We are very, very supportive of the public health provisions put in the bill, [including] workforce training, funding public health services, prioritizing the elimination of health disparities, there’s a big trust fund to support community based interventions in the bill, programs that reduce smoking, reduce injuries in Americans and really support dealing with chronic disease like obesity, and diabetes. We think those are important components that are in the bill. Of course, the big winner in all of this is getting almost 90 percent of the public covered with health insurance.

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