Health Department Issues Response to Today's Baltimore City Biennial Performance Audit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (August 22, 2018) - Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, issued the following statement about the Baltimore City Biennial Performance Audit released to the Board of Estimates today:

"The audit findings reflect the severe budgetary constraints of the Baltimore City Health Department. Different from other city agencies, the Health Department receives less than 20% of its $150 million budget from city general funds. For fiscal year 2019, the approved budget from the City for the Health Department is $27 million, to fulfill a broad mandate including maternal and child health, senior services, overdose prevention, addiction treatment, restaurant inspections, animal control, STD/HIV care, dental services, asthma prevention, lead poisoning prevention, outbreak investigation, and emergency preparedness.

"It has been said that "public health saved your life today, you just don't know it." Health departments around the country suffer from lack of funding, because the effectiveness of our work is in prevention--by definition, success is something that can't be seen. We inspect restaurants to prevent food poisoning. We conduct disease investigations to prevent outbreaks. We provide community health services to prevent our children and our families from needing hospitalizations. The Baltimore City Health Department has had numerous successes in our work, including--by convening partners around the city--to reduce infant mortality citywide by 35% in seven years and to save over 2,600 lives from overdose in three years. Our effectiveness and efficiency is one of the reasons we were recently Local Health Department of the Year by the National Association of City and County Health Officials.

"It is a high priority to increase the number of environmental health inspectors to meet state mandates. It is also a high priority to increase our budget in other operational areas to provide for key core services in our city. This is a particular concern given threats on the federal level to our funding, including to teen pregnancy prevention programs, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and other services that provide safety net services to our most vulnerable residents. We are grateful to the leadership of Mayor Catherine Pugh and the Baltimore City Council in supporting our work in light of challenging circumstances on the federal level, and we look to all of our partners for their help and collaboration as we reaffirm the importance of funding for key public health services that prevent disease and ensure the health and well-being of our residents."

 

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