When you hear “public health,” you may think of flu shots. That’s one visible -- and briefly painful -- side of public health services. But if you’ve enjoyed tobacco-smoke-free air, thought twice about ordering a cheeseburger after seeing its calorie count on a menu, or not worried about tuberculosis in your community, you’ve also “used” public health services. These services are essential, ubiquitous and usually unnoticed.
They’ve also been hit hard by the recession. Since 2008 about 17 percent of the state public health workforce and 22 percent of the local public health workforce have been eliminated, according to a 2011 report from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Several reports have enumerated how, as a result of these cuts, we’re more vulnerable to communicable diseases, water-borne infections and other health concerns.