When the Ukiah Valley Conference Center volunteered to host an emergency vaccination clinic after a freezer failure at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, which meant vaccine doses had to be administered immediately, no one said a conference center was not a public health.
And when three public schools in the Compton neighborhood of Los Angeles teamed up with St. John’s Well Child and Family Center to vaccinate the community – where COVID-19 rates were high and vaccination rates were among the lowest in the county – no one told them, it wasn’t their job.
This is because we are all part of public health. And – as COVID-19 has proven – public health works best, and for most people, when we all work together.
That’s why organizations statewide are working together to ensure California continues to fund every part of public health, with a $ 300 million budget allocation that was pledged each year starting in 2022. .
Why the pledge of $ 300 million must be kept
This money would fund the public health and equity infrastructure that would keep communities healthy, build community power, and recognize that we all have a role to play in public health. And that’s why it’s critical that this funding stays in the Governor’s 2022-2023 draft budget, which is being drafted right now.
A minimum of $ 100 million of this allocation has been pledged to a Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund, to help community organizations that are on the ground to fight systemic racism and improve health in their neighborhoods. for decades, but rarely have ongoing funding. The fund could provide dedicated resources, offer more acceptable salaries to staff, and support community-led and community-based solutions to the health and justice issues that matter most to them.
Mujeres Poderosas Amorosas of Fresno County
It could go to groups like Mujeres Poderosas Amorosas, a network working with immigrant Latinas in Fresno County to prevent domestic violence. By focusing their efforts on healing and building self-esteem and worth, they oppose a story that devalues immigrant women. Through place-based advocacy and the creation of equitable opportunities, they help promote greater community safety and an independent future for vulnerable immigrant women.
Mujeres Poderosas Amorosas informs local decision-makers about the deficits of restrictive rental assistance programs which fail to prevent evictions among the most vulnerable. They are also shaping school food operations during the pandemic and supporting grocery deliveries to elderly Latin American immigrants throughout Fresno County. They rise up through service to others, build health and justice in their neighborhoods, and create a network of powerful and loving women whose expertise and contributions will long outlive the pandemic.
Public health needs new laboratories and data systems
Budget allocation would also help support public health infrastructure; it could help replace the 11 labs the state has lost since 1999 and rebuild the outdated data systems we depend on for actionable information.
And that could ensure that we have a comprehensive public health workforce that resembles the communities they serve – supporting partnerships like the one between the Worker Education Resource Center and Los Angeles County, which are working together to create career paths for community health workers. / promotores, contact tracers and other COVID response agents, so that they can obtain permanent employment after the pandemic.
Each of these organizations plays a vital role in public health – from trusted community leader to clinical provider to local health department staff. None of them could do it alone.
By keeping their promise, committing $ 300 million per year in the 2022-2023 budget to these efforts, and channeling at least $ 100 million of that money to community organizations, California leaders would be supporting the role we all play in creating a healthier environment. , fairer in California – for the long haul.
about the authors
Assembly member Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) represents District 2. Genoveva Islas is the Executive Director of Cultivated Salud and an administrator of the Fresno Unified School District. CalMatters is a nonprofit, non-partisan newsroom committed to explaining California politics and politics.