Counties Face Disease Control Cuts
The World Health Organization declared swine flu a global pandemic on Thursday. At the same time California counties are considering significant cuts to public health programs.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
About 900 positions linked to disease control will be eliminated by counties around the state starting July 1st. That’s according to a survey by the Health Officers Association of California.
Bruce Pomer is the executive director of the association. He says one area that will take a hit is public health labs that test samples, like H1N1 virus.
“This is a public safety function, over 90 percent of the testing is done by these labs at the local level.”
California Public Health Lab Director Dr. Paul Kimsey says county labs are reporting funding cuts that could range from 30 to 60 percent. And he says that doesn’t include potential state reductions.
“The reality is in this economic crisis we’re probably not going to be able to continue to do what we’ve always been able to do.”
Kimsey says investigating disease outbreaks and food born illnesses could be more difficult. But he’s unclear how difficult that will be until counties and the state pass their budgets.