Every day, the environment affects the health of people in Nebraska and throughout the United States. Illnesses and injuries related to the environment result in a significant human toll, and these conditions are on the rise. Significant gaps exist in environmental surveillance and there is a need for coordinating and standardizing the integration, analysis, and dissemination of environmental health information.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) currently collects and uses environmental public health data. Data readily available include state-derived National Consistent Data Measures (NCDM). NDHHS has a wide-ranging stakeholder network and frequently collaborates and shares data with environmental health stakeholders, including the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE), local health departments, the University of Nebraska –Lincoln (UNL), and Medical Center (UNMC), Nebraska Asthma Coalition, and Nebraska Environmental Health Association.
Through this grant, a Nebraska Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (NE-EPHT) will be developed to enhance capacity and expertise in environmental health surveillance; using Tracking data and other program resources to inform public health action, with the ultimate goal of reducing the burden of environmentally related health conditions. The Program will partner with appropriate stakeholders to advance expertise, resources, availability, quality, timeliness, compatibility, and utility of environmental data.
The purpose of the NE-EPHT is to support environmental health activities in Nebraska with a common goal of creating a healthy environment and reducing environmental health burdens for Nebraskans. The program will build and use state and local public health capacity & expertise in environmental health surveillance; create modern, interoperable, and real-time public health data and surveillance systems; modernize the collection, integration, dissemination, & application of timely, local environmental health data; and empower public health practitioners, healthcare providers, community members, policy members, and others to make information-driven decisions that affect their health. The EPHT program strategy will serve as a framework and guiding line for integrating and coordinating the environmental health programs in Nebraska.
The NE EPHT will achieve this goal by assessing existing programs and associated capacities related to environmental health practice, and enhancing those, or creating new activities in areas such as surveillance, information technology, partnerships, outreach and communication, program capacity, and program evaluation/performance measurement.
Additionally, we have established relationships with other CDC funded state programs, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Surveillance Program, the Violent Death Reporting System Program, the Injury Surveillance Program, and others; as well as with programs that are not funded by the CDC, such as the NDEE, the UNMC College of Public Health, and the UNL Drought Mitigation Center. These relationships will be extremely beneficial in accomplishing the program’s outlined objectives.
The EPHT program will coordinate with the NDHHS Data Nexus Team to update and upload the various environmental health data sources to the NE cloud-based data warehouse (Nexus). Additionally, they will work with the Atlas Development Team to build the EPHT interactive data visualization and query system, and leverage internal and external resources to continue to develop and update the EPHT information system and portal.