413: Biden Gets PH Workforce Report; Maternal Care Policies

Lindsey Myers, ASTHO’s Vice President for Public Health Workforce and Infrastructure, explains the importance of President Biden’s report on the public health workforce; Maria Gabriela Ruiz, an analyst on ASTHO’s Maternal and Infant Health team,...

Lindsey Myers, ASTHO’s Vice President for Public Health Workforce and Infrastructure, explains the importance of President Biden’s report on the public health workforce; Maria Gabriela Ruiz, an analyst on ASTHO’s Maternal and Infant Health team, outlines how public health officials can address the root cause of rising maternal mortality rates; the FDA updated its COVID-19 vaccine guidance; and you still have time to register online for ASTHO’s TechXpo and Futures Forum.  

ASTHO Statement on President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology’s Report on Supporting the U.S. Public Health Workforce

Report To The President Supporting The U.S. Public Health Workforce

Behavioral Health: Women, Children, and Families

AMCHP Schedule

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Changes to Simplify Use of Bivalent mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines

Public Health TechXpo and Futures Forum


ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Thursday, May 4, 2023. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.



I think whenever we see a report that really is about supporting the public health workforce, that that gives just some validity to the work that public health practitioners do and reinforces the importance of the roles that they play.


ASTHO's Vice President for public health workforce and infrastructure Lindsey Myers on a new report to the President supporting the public health workforce.


I think what this report does is get a little bit more specific on how to address the workforce shortage issue in public health, and what I like about it is that it really focuses on public health. There's been so much about the impact on the healthcare workforce, which of course is very important. But these are strategies specific to public health. So things like, you know, really better understanding who even is in the public health workforce by working with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to better define job classifications so that we even—you know, no one can characterize what that population looks like.


The report was issued by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Myers says it comes at a good time as agencies consider how to invest federal dollars in people and other infrastructure needs.


I think the timing of the report right now really helps reinforce the work that is just now starting with the new investments that are happening in state and territorial health agencies through the new workforce infrastructure funding that they all received from CDC. That they're working on retention strategies, on strategies to retain the workforce right now, and really trying to build that many of them are in the process of hiring data modernization directors or workforce directors and trying to think of new strategies to draw people to their agencies and recruit in different ways.


Myers says the report also gives public health workers a morale boost.


I think the value of a report like this coming out at this particular moment when public health has been facing so many challenges—and frankly, you know, burnout and moral injury—it helps them feel seen and helps them realize that the work that they do is important, and that there is support at the national level for helping strengthen the system that they are a part of.


ASTHO issued a statement supporting the report and calling on Congress to work with the administration to back its recommendations. You can read the statement and the report using the links in the show notes.



So the first year after birth is an incredibly dangerous time for postpartum people.


Gabby Ruiz is on ASTHO's maternal and infant health team.


We went from about 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births to almost 33 in 2021. And these numbers are significantly higher than those of comparable countries, and mental and behavioral health are really responsible for a large subset of these.


Ruiz says ASTHO has been working with the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs to educate agency teams on policies that can help improve care for pregnant and postpartum people suffering from substance use or mental health disorders.


So after completing two cohorts and learning community activities, ASTHO and AMCHP developed a four-part policy academy for states that had previously participated in the learning community to build upon the work that they did in the past in developing policy initiatives and addressing the different facets of how substance use disorder and mental health affected communities in their states.


The project team will talk about the work at a conference that begins this weekend. You can read more about all of it using the links in the show notes.


Also today, the FDA has updated its guidance about COVID-19 vaccines. The changes are intended to simplify use of the bivalent formula. You can read the official notice and get more detail using the link in the show notes.


Finally this morning, there's still time to sign up to attend ASTHO's TechXpo and Futures Forum. The Xpo is your opportunity to learn about the latest work in the public health data and technology space. The event is streaming from Chicago, May 23 – 25, online. Tickets are available now.


That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.


Maria Gabriela Ruiz MPH

Analyst, Maternal and Infant Health, ASTHO

Lindsey Myers MPH

Vice President, Social and Behavioral Health, ASTHO