par Astrid Fiano
, DOTmed News Writer | September 24, 2010
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has launched the Public Health Law Network, a program designed to help persons in public health obtain legal expertise to handle public health problems. The program is meant to help local, state, federal and tribal officials, public health practitioners, policy-makers and advocates with applying the law.
The foundation stated in a press release that anyone working in the fields of public health or law can call or e-mail the network for guidance on applying the law to a public health concern. The foundation also intends to provide training on law and improving public health.
"Those working in the field of public health are confronted daily with a wide range of issues -- from health reform to emergency preparedness -- that intersect with the law. The law is an important tool to protect public health," said Dan Stier, director of the Public Health Law Network-National Coordinating Center, in the foundation's press release. "Our goal is to build a robust network of experts who can share their knowledge with others interested in using the law as a powerful tool to improve public health."
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The Public Health Law Network website provides information on a range of topics including cross-border public health; environmental public health; health reform; health information data sharing; and public health agency accreditation. On each topic, the site provides a summary of the topic, primary legal issues, and the technical assistance capacity. For example, on the topic of data sharing, the site points out that public health practitioners need to understand privacy and security laws, address situations when health care providers, schools and others are reluctant to share data and the ethical issues of balancing confidentiality with a health threat to the community.
Individuals and organizations can join the network, which provides technical assistance centers for five regions as well as internet assistance. The centers are located in various colleges of law or schools of public health.
The Public Health Network can be accessed here: http://www.publichealthlawnetwork.org.