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Why is it important for local epi’s to join CSTE?

Posted By Laurene Mascola, Thursday, May 29, 2014
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I have had the privilege of being on CSTE’s Executive Board for 5 years—I was the first president elected from a local health department. It is crucial that local health department epidemiologists take an active role in CSTE, as the locals are the footsoldiers of public health. The states can mandate all that they want, but they need to hear from us! Our perspective can shed light on a different reality during decision making. We are all after the same prize—creating a healthier population.

First, some history. The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) was founded more or less in 1951 by the CDC’s first Epidemiology Division Director, Alexander Langmuir, who recognized the important role of state and local epidemiologists and tasked them to decide what diseases should be reported nationally. This meeting, held by CSTE in 1951, generated the first fully-documented list of notifiable diseases. CSTE has continued to hold the responsibility for defining and recommending the diseases and conditions that are reportable within states.

Since its beginning, CSTE has grown into a national organization for state, local, tribal, and territorial epidemiologists across disciplines and disease categories, representing their interests with CDC, other national organizational partners, and Congress. CSTE’s work includes infectious disease, maternal and child health, chronic disease and oral health, and injury, environmental health, and occupational health. It recently started a subcommittees for public health law, epidemiology methods, and the integration of public health and primary care. CSTE also keeps up on current and important issues, like substance abuse, MERS-CoV and other outbreaks, and informatics. By joining CSTE, epidemiologists become part of a public health network that delivers up-to-date information on important issues and allows us to benefit from professional development opportunities, and participate in networking events.
But why should you join? You’re like me—a local epi. And as local epi’s, we have a perspective to offer CSTE and its many program areas and subcommittees. We should join CSTE not only for what CSTE can offer us as applied epidemiologists but also for what we can offer CSTE. How do federal policies filter down to local jurisdictions when they’re implemented? What challenges do local jurisdictions face when funding is cut or a major incident occurs? How does what we do differ from that at the state level? What successful programs or challenges do we experience in our day-to-day work that we want others to know about? These are all examples of ways we can help CSTE represent all applied epidemiologists. These are ways we can add our perspective to CSTE’s activities. These are reasons why we as locals should join CSTE.
Click here for more information about CSTE membership.
Laurene Mascola, MD, MPH, FAAP is the chief of the acute communicable disease control program at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. She is the Vice President of CSTE.

Tags:  local epidemiology  membership 

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