The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) consists of the Division of Public Health, Division of Environment, Division of Healthcare Finance, and the Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratory. This configuration has enabled programs to collaborate easily with each other and leverage valuable resources. Within the Division of Public Health is the Bureau of Epidemiology and Public Health Informatics (BEPHI) which consists of numerous programs, including the Kansas Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (KSEPHT) and the Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Response (IDER) section. The KSEPHT program works closely with the IDER section and bureaus within the Division of Environment, including the Bureau of Water (BOW) and the Bureau of Environmental Field Services (BEFS) to ensure that the public is protected from harmful algal blooms in recreational waters, lead in drinking water, and conducts non-infectious disease cluster investigations, environmental health surveillance, and other investigations of potential associations between environmental hazards and adverse health outcomes. It is proposed that the KSEPHT program, IDER, and the BOW will collaborate through the EHC cooperative agreement to strengthen environmental health capacity within KDHE. This funding opportunity would provide the resources and technical support to address critical gaps in environmental health data and the detection of environmental health hazards to protect public health in a way that has not been done previously. Specifically, two areas of emerging concern have been identified as priorities to address with this funding opportunity. They are tick-borne disease surveillance to include the development of new data sets and information and recreational water sampling for pathogens.
Funding from this cooperative agreement would be used to support component A and component B for safe water as outlined in the NOFO. The overall purpose of the EHC collaboration within KDHE will be to strengthen environmental health capacity to detect, prevent, and control environmental health (EH) hazards through data-driven approaches. This will be accomplished by: 1) expanding environmental hazard surveillance to identify and address EH hazards, 2) determining prevalence of water-borne environmental hazards, 3) development of new data sets providing the EH hazard data along with the technical expertise to interpret the data available for decision-making purposes, 4) assessment of the effectiveness and impact of the EH services and/or interventions.
The proposed activities over the five-year period are expected to result in all outcome measures outlined in the application to be met as described in the accompanying sections and in the workplan. This includes the following: 1) Increase the number of EH hazards addressed, prevented, and controlled, 2) Increase the number of public health departments EH programs that adopt and implement EH best practices, 3) Increase the field of knowledge related to EH hazard interventions and their effectiveness, 4) Increase public health departments capacity to reduce identified EH hazards in their communities, 5) Increase collaboration between partners to address EH hazards, and 6) Increase the awareness of EH hazards and demonstrate the importance of EH services and interventions.