Ald. Lewis: Having health officer expertise is vital

Statement by Alderwoman Lewis

With the Common Council recently approving the position of a special deputy health commissioner, I am optimistic that similar health proposals will materialize.

In sponsoring the deputy health commissioner file that passed last week, I felt it was vital to specify the position be “qualified to lead a level III local health department.” Having staff members fill in during a commissioner vacancy beyond the scope of their duties is certainly not a path toward improving public health.

That is why I have aggressively worked to develop in-house resources who can deal with the health challenges facing the city of Milwaukee.

In the 2018 budget, I sponsored an amendment that creates two Disease Intervention Specialist positions, and I was lead sponsor for a $50,000 request to increase awareness and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Furthermore, I believe having community input and citizen engagement on these issues is a must, which is why I continue to work to create a Milwaukee Board of Health. Cities comparable to Milwaukee have this resource that we have been sorely lacking.

Make no mistake, improving public health requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, but we must also ensure the city has the expertise to manage community health issues accordingly.

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