Public health protects our communities, saves lives, and saves money. UPHA encourages its members to advocate for public health. We need your support to continue to strengthen our public health system. You can help by reaching out to your representatives to educate them about public health priorities.
What Are UPHA’s Current Public Health Policy Priorities?
During the 2021 Utah Legislative Session, UPHA’s Policy Priorities included:
- Upholding critical public health laws and regulations (Deseret News - KSL - Salt Lake Tribune)
- Addressing racism as a public health crisis. See the UPHA Press Release UPHA Supports HJR 13 (KUER AM News Brief)
- Increasing and protecting funding for vital public health agencies and programs and strengthening Utah’s public health infrastructure
- Highlighting potential implications of the proposed consolidation of Utah Department of Human Services and Utah Department of Health and offering solutions that ensure efficiencies and improve health outcomes for all Utahns (Deseret News)
What Has The UPHA Advocacy Unit Been Doing?
In October 2020, UPHA called for stricter public health measures as COVID-19 cases surged. UPHA commended Governor Herbert for implementing the Transmission Index and recommended further action. Read the full statement HERE.
In June 2020, collaborating with other public health organizations, the UPHA’s Advocacy Unit voiced concerns to Governor Gary Herbert about Utah’s rapidly accelerating positive COVID-19 tests and hospital admissions. As an organization, UPHA asked for a smart, safe, and science based opening up of Utah’s economy, focusing on 4 main public health priorities:
- Reinvigorate and restructure the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force
- Develop a coordinated risk communication media campaign across public health, employers and health care providers stressing the importance of Mask Use, Hand Hygiene and continued social distancing.
- Coordinate Statewide Contact Tracing, and
- Coordinate Statewide Testing efforts.
In addition, members of the UPHA Advocacy Unit drafted a letter emphasizing concerns about the proposed budget reductions to public health and human services programs, asking for reconsideration where there was a greater impact on the most vulnerable and underserved in our community. The letter was well received, as policy makers dipped into the rainy day fund to minimize the cuts to these services.
2020 UPHA Public Health Worker Survey
In Aug-Sept 2020 the UPHA Advocacy Unit conducted a survey of public health workers to assess the needs and experiences of Utah’s public health workforce during the COVID crisis. Key findings:
- Survey respondents overwhelmingly discussed how public health expertise, efforts and experiences have been undervalued or ignored by policymakers and leaders. Survey respondents note that Utah’s public health infrastructure has been underfunded and that the public health field is often misunderstood by state decisionmakers. “Invest in our public health system for the long term.”
- Survey respondents overwhelmingly feel the need for more support in order to take care of themselves, as well as raise workplace issues or concerns. “… Everyone is burnt out with no relief in sight.”
88% of respondents support a statewide mask mandate?
How Can You Get Involved?
The UPHA Advocacy Unit invites you to join our monthly meetings to plan advocacy events, trainings, and determine legislative priorities. If you would like to be influential in the direction UPHA takes around policy priorities for the year, feel free to join!
UPHA Advocacy Meetings are being held virtually. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to attend the UPHA Advocacy Unit meetings.
Please feel free to review meeting agendas, minutes, and other planning documents for the 2019-2020 UPHA Advocacy Unit activities HERE.
How Can You Advocate for Public Health?
- Call or email your State Representatives and Federal Congressional Delegation to express support for UPHA priorities.
- Visit the Utah State Legislative Website, where you can search for and track bills.
- Like UPHA on Facebook to stay updated on legislative issues.
- Educate family, friends, and neighbors on the benefits of investing in public health on your personal social media sites. Get tips from APHA.
- Attend Town Hall meetings organized by local, state, and federal politicians. Ask questions and share information about public health.
- Write letters to the editor or op-eds about the benefits of public health to submit to your local newspaper. Get tips from APHA.
- Learn about APHA's Speak For Health.
- Vote! For the first time, Utah will participate in the Presidential Primary voting process on Tuesday, March 3rd. Learn how you can be be a part of Utah's first Super Tuesday HERE.
- Help plan and host the Annual Advocacy Day, Annual Legislative Sponsorship Event, and Training Webinars
Each year, the UPHA Advocacy Unit hosts an Advocacy Academy. This event includes training and hands-on experience at the Capitol during the legislative session. Learn more about the 2021 UPHA Advocacy Academy.
Want to learn more? Contact the Advocacy Unit.
Photos: UPHA Board Members Julie Gast and Teresa Garrett with Representative Ben McAdams in Washington DC (top); UPHA Board Members Sharon Talboys and Patty Cross with an aide for Mike Lee in Washington DC (bottom)