The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is applying to the CDC for the Modernizing Environmental Public Health Tracking to Advance Environmental Health Surveillance Grant in order to enhance environmental epidemiology and surveillance in Virginia and join the national Tracking Network. The Surveillance Grant would allow for the development and implementation of the Virginia Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (VEPHT) over a five-year period. The VEHTP will track environment hazards, exposures, and health effects in an effort to increase understanding of how environmental factors impact the health, health inequities and lives of Virginians. A key health inequity that this grant will help VDH better address is around infant mortality where the Black population bears a disproportionate burden. The VEPHT will improve access and sharing of environmental health data through modernized data systems to empower public health practitioners, healthcare providers, community members, policy members, and others in Virginia to make information-driven decisions. VDH will perform timely analyses using standardized and integrated data sources to identify, monitor, and address health issues arising from or directly related to environmental factors in local communities and across Virginia statewide.
The VEPHTwill be formed in the first year of the grant through onboarding key staff, further building partnerships with data stewards, building partnerships with partners and community stakeholders to establish a Virginia Tracking Steering Committee, enhancing environmental health surveillance and informatics infrastructure, and further developing data management and program evaluation plans.
Short term outcomes include increased data monitoring of environmental health topics; improved completeness, timeliness, and quality of environmental public health surveillance data; increased surveillance of environmental health disparities; improved information technology tools and systems, increased stakeholder inclusion in data sharing, communication, and response; increased collaboration with partners to reduce health disparities; increased dissemination of environmental health information using communication best practices to appropriate audiences; increased knowledge and ability among EPHT workforce; increased recipient capacity to provide technical assistance to advance environmental public health interventions; and improved completeness, timeliness, and quality of evaluation data. Intermediate outcomes include increased use of public health data among public health practitioners and environmental professionals to develop and deliver informed programs, prioritized interventions, and policies to address environmental public health issues as well as improved identification, monitoring, and addressing of health disparities. Long-term outcomes include building program capacity to establish a dedicated environmental public health epidemiology program through the onboarding of project-funded staff; developing and implementing data analysis plan to conduct routine descriptive analysis, assess disparities, and emerging issues; establishing the surveillance and informatics infrastructure for the Virginia Tracking Data Portal through integration with a cloud-based enterprise data and analytics portal (EDAP); establishing the VDH Tracking Internal Coordinating Committee and the Virginia Tracking Steering Committee for stakeholder and decision-making inclusion; developing and maintaining the Virginia Tracking Data Portal as not only a landing page for data dashboards and products (i.e. reports, fact sheets), but also program information and updates; participating in nat
ional Tracking and environmental health workgroups; and utilizing the CDC Framework for Program Evaluation to develop and implement an evaluation plan that details process and outcome measures, and how these measures will be tracked/documented. But ultimately becoming part of the Tracking Net