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Public health services in the United States were initiated indirectly via various mechanisms. The federal government devised ways of collecting funds through taxation in a bid to finance national public health initiatives conducted by the state and local governments.
The mission of the public health sector is to enhance physical and mental well-being, coupled with preventing diseases and accidents. In this paper, the public health sector in the US will be analyzed with regard to the environmental factors that impact human health. The federal and local governments are responsible for public health practice and environmental issues. This paper will explore the legal roles of the federal and local governments in public health and environmental protection.
Roles of the national and local governments
The federal government has a strong influence on public health provision via its capability to raise funds through taxes. It is tasked with making policies, financing, public health management, conducting evaluations, collecting information about health delivery systems, and overseeing the activities by the state and local governments. The national government engages in public health capacity building.
It is tasked with the responsibility of controlling interstate trade and protecting the environment together with overseeing food and drug safety. The national government sets terms on the use of federal funds. The national government is tasked with disease control roles, especially for people entering the US.
On the other hand, local governments are directly linked to the local communities to ensure people’s protection, coupled with property and environmental preservation. The roles involve the management of urban policing and property protection through firefighting services and the management of urban sprawl. Urban sprawl involves the fast expansion of the geographical area of cities. People living in these suburban areas develop high reliance on private means of transport, which increase air and noise pollution.
Local government is also responsible for local transportation such as the construction and management of road and railway infrastructure. Automobiles have eased commuting within the city but increased pollution as people become more reliant on private means. Planning and development within the municipality include municipal zoning to prevent the use of agricultural land for construction. In addition, the roles include constructing, maintaining, and improving recreational parks and green spaces.
Due to urban sprawl, the construction of residential and business houses destroyed wildlife zones and agricultural lands. Small areas were left for wildlife, thus compelling animals to move closer to human zones in search of food. The governments also ensure the provision of public utilities like city sewage-system maintenance, street lighting, and water supply (Payne-Sturges 9).
Comparing and contrasting
Relations between the federal and local governments regarding public health and environmental preservation evolved into a partnership since the 1980s (Schneider 40). Since environmental and public health programs have developed new challenges, the topic of relative roles and responsibilities widened. In dealing with these new challenges, the two entities have combined their unique abilities to ensure effective public enterprise. Local governments have an important relationship with the federal government.
The federal government allocates direct finances to the local authorities for the implementation of infrastructure programs and social welfare projects with regard to public health. Federal entities also work closely with local municipalities in designing policies, which foster public health and environmental preservation. In addition, just like the national government, the local governments have the authority to collect revenues through taxation.
Apparently, the federal and local governments are working closely together to minimize the effects of urban sprawl such as air pollution emanating from automobiles, which spoil the air quality coupled with damaging public health. In addition, heating, cooling, and lighting have escalated the burning of fossil fuels, thus causing air contamination and global warming. Water runoffs have also increased due to the heavy road infrastructure, which cannot absorb rainwater.
Therefore, runoff water is directed into rivers, and it carries viruses and bacteria, which raise the danger of water-borne diseases. Furthermore, since automobiles play a big role in the urban lifestyle, motor accidents affect the public’s physical well-being. In the United States, automobiles claim more than 40,000 people annually.
The impact of such a scenario has been huge, thus demanding cooperation between the federal and local governments. The high populations in urban areas complicate the local governments’ efforts to supply social amenities. As a result, diseases are likely to develop and spread, thus leading to a national epidemic. This aspect might go beyond what the local governments are capable of, and thus the federal government joins the effort to tackle such occurrences.
How changes in conditions are causing role changes
The criteria, setting, and purpose of public health and environmental protection have evolved over the last three decades. While these changes have been occurring swiftly, they have attracted concerns only recently. Since the 1990s, public opinion shows continued support for public health practice and environmental protection (Hunter 35). A large number of citizens insist that the federal government should double its efforts in ensuring that polluters are compelled to adhere to environmental regulations.
Apparently, the local governments have employed staff members with relevant environmental capabilities, and this aspect has raised its effectiveness even past the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since effecting new changes depends on information and data, both governments have made a profound impact on public health practice largely due to widespread information and data.
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The dynamics of public health and environmental protection have caused both the federal and local governments to shift from compelling to catalyzing change. The EPA has sought to assist these governments in catalyzing rather than force success via rules and regulations. Since various challenges face the implementation process, the EPA and other public health agencies have ensured widespread information flow through campaigns and training.
For instance, since its foundation in 1946, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the leading entities for health promotion, control, and awareness in the US. Its major role is to prevent and control widespread infectious diseases. It conducts research pertaining to public health with regard to environmental indicators as well as responding to scenarios of a disease outbreak.
Examples of federal urban cooperation and conflicts
The federal and urban governments cooperate in various cases involving green infrastructure and sustainability programs that enhance public health, coupled with protecting the environment. The cooperation of the two authorities focuses on achieving various goals, which include improving the efficiency of waste disposal across cities, minimizing the quantity of waste generated, and the creation of green infrastructure for better absorption of stormwater, among others.
For instance, the New York Green Infrastructure Plan of 2010 aims at achieving sustainability planning by reducing water pollution from stormwater runoffs and sewage overflows (Friis 43). This goal is achieved through urban agriculture, parks and gardens, city street trees, and suburban zoning. Even though local authorities are capable of making huge changes autonomously, the federal government is involved in setting standards for water quality of rivers, lakes, and nearshore oceans.
In addition, since many sustainability programs in New York are implemented at the local stage, the relation between local and federal authorities is fundamental. This assertion holds because changes made at the local level have to meet the standards set by the federal regulatory authorities.
The federal and local authorities cooperate to ensure that the standards set against pollution by the Clean Water Act of 1972 are observed. As a result, public health is improved since mediums for disease transmission are blocked. Limited cases of air and water pollution help in the alleviation of numerous diseases.
Cases of conflicts arise due to regulatory issues — the question of who regulates the environment, and public health has raised controversies since the 1980s. The federal stage entities in the US have exercised power to regulate both public health and environmental protection. It is noteworthy that most sustainability programs take place at the local level, so most decisions and regulations should reflect the demands of the locals. Conflict ought to occur in such situations.
For instance, the 1987 storm-water control program is regulated under the Clean Water Act, which compels the local municipalities to comply with federal water standards (Kate 21). Local governments’ powers are limited despite the fact that they maintain the neighborhoods, control pollution, and maintain green infrastructure. In addition, local governments are, in most cases, required to do what the federal government requires, given the criteria of implementation, and left to bear the costs.
Cities are currently implementing sustainability initiatives for the benefit of multiple sectors that enhance public health. Both the federal and local governments have abandoned tools that derail sustainability prospects, such as regulatory conflicts. These two authorities are working collaboratively to enhance public health.
Locally designed measures are key to solving public health and environmental issues, such as green infrastructure, whilst observing federal law. Consequently, many local government initiatives are now being incorporated into federal projects. Due to this progress, the quality of general public health has witnessed huge growth in the United States.
Kate, Davies. The Rise of the U.S. Environmental Health Movement, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013. Print.
Friis, Robert. Essentials of Environmental Health, Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012. Print.
Hunter, Nan. The Law of Emergencies: Public Health and Disaster Management, Burlington: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2009. Print.
Payne-Sturges, Devon. “Humanizing Science at the US Environmental Protection Agency.” The American Journal of Public Health 101.1 (2011): 8-12. Print.
Schneider, Mary. Introduction to Public Health, Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2011. Print.