Press Room

State and Territorial Health Officials Gather in Washington, D.C. to Advocate for Public Health Funding


ARLINGTON, VA (March 13, 2018)—State and territorial health officials from across the country will gather in Washington, D.C. this week to urge Congress to prioritize funding for public health programs in the current and upcoming fiscal years. Specifically, they will advocate for funding to support state, local, and territorial health departments in addressing the opioid epidemic, enhancing preparedness programs, and continuing services through the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and its members will also meet with leaders of the Administration, including the U.S. Surgeon General.

State and territorial public health agencies continue to face multiple challenges in the current fiscal environment. These challenges could be more difficult if Congress accepts the federal funding reductions proposed in the FY19 president’s budget request. “We are in a very unique and uncertain budget climate, and we want Congress to hear directly from state and territorial health officials about the value and importance of federal programs on our members’ work,” says Michael Fraser, executive director of ASTHO.

The United States continues to deal with evolving and emerging public health threats: the nation was devastated by three major hurricanes, the deadly opioid epidemic has affected nearly everyone across the country, American life expectancy has declined, federal investment in public health has not kept pace with inflation, and workforce cuts are threatening public health programs.

“State and territorial health officials save lives everyday by promoting optimal health for all, preventing disease, and helping to prevent other crises. Our current public health infrastructure is stretched and we rely on funding from the federal government to support our work. The goal of Washington Week is for ASTHO members to carry this message directly to Congress,” says John Wiesman, ASTHO President and secretary of health at the Washington State Department of Health. “We need Congress to prioritize funding for public health to build and sustain a strong public health and medical preparedness system, both as a frontline defense and safety net.”

For more information on ASTHO’s 2018 advocacy priorities, visit


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely-associated states, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.