More than 150 public health practitioners from all over Missouri are gathering in Columbia for three days to talk about the major issues affecting public health.
The Missouri Public Health Association is one of five organizations hosting the Conference. Vice President Bert Malone says Missouri does poorly in health rankings for diseases like diabetes or HIV infection. He says it’s difficult because Missouri faces a big challenge.
"Missouri rank 50th in the nation in the amount of funds that are invested in public health by the state," Malone says. "That’s horrendous. We live in the state which obviously does not value public health.
Mahree Skala is the Executive Director of Missouri Association of Local Public Health Agencies. She says without significant efforts local health agencies might lose two-thirds of the state funding in the next legislative session. She did note some good things about Missouri health efforts.
"We have been a leader in the nation in terms of cities in nation passing clean air ordinances, that limit a use of tobacco in public places," Skala says. "We don’t have a strong state law, but we have a strong number of cities that have passed that kind of ordinances."
One of the highlights of the conference is the awards. Malone says even though it’s not the Emmy or Oscars, it is great opportunity to recognize those significant to public health.