State Health Commissioner Kicks Off "Public Health Week" with Visit to Monroe County Public Health Sites

Sees Public Health in Action at Lead Abatement House, STD Clinic as Part of Statewide Tour

ROCHESTER, NY, April 2, 2007 – New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today kicked off National Public Health Week in New York State with a visit to Monroe County, where he met with Monroe County Health Commissioner Andrew S. Doniger, M.D., M.P.H., and viewed local public health efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning and sexually transmitted diseases.

Commissioner Daines' visit to Monroe County is part of a statewide tour this week to highlight the efforts of public health professionals and county health departments during National Public Health Week. Dr. Daines will also visit the Albany County and Dutchess County health departments.

While in Monroe County, Dr. Daines visited two Rochester houses requiring lead abatement and discussed Governor Spitzer's support for the prevention of childhood lead poisoning.

"Childhood lead poisoning poses a serious threat to the development and well-being of children," said Dr. Daines. "I applaud the Monroe County Health Department's model lead prevention program that has resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of children with elevated blood lead levels over the last decade. This initiative is just one of many ways in which county health departments across New York State are helping to protect and improve the health of New Yorkers."

Monroe County Health Commissioner Doniger noted that despite progress in reducing the incidence of childhood lead poisoning, strong prevention efforts must continue due to the large number of older homes in Monroe County. Children usually become exposed to lead through contaminated paint that was used years ago in many older homes.

"We continue to partner with community organizations, such as the local Lead-Free Coalition, to increase the number of lead-safe dwellings," said Commissioner Doniger. "We are eager to work even more aggressively with Commissioner Daines and Governor Spitzer to achieve our mutual goal of making New York the healthiest state in the nation."

Commissioner Daines also visited the Monroe County Clinic for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) in Rochester, supported by the Monroe County Health Department in affiliation with Strong Memorial Hospital and the University of Rochester's Infectious Disease Unit. Noting that the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease, is responsible for many cases of cervical cancer, Dr. Daines highlighted the Governor's support for access to a new HPV vaccine that promises to greatly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer.

The theme for New York State's observance of Public Health Week is "Public Health Works," highlighting the important role that New York's public health workforce plays in protecting the public's health. There are 58 local health departments in New York State and an estimated 13,000 local public health employees, including public health nurses, sanitarians, health educators, and epidemiologists. An additional 6,580 employees work for the New York State Department of Health.

For more information on Public Health Week and public health careers, please visit the Department's Web site at www.healt.ny.gov.