PHACT campaign seeks to turn APHA members into public health advocates.
In 2011, APHA members and advocates for public health had more than 500 meetings with members of Congress where they took the opportunity to speak on behalf of public health.
Now, in an election year, public health advocates have an even better opportunity to reach their legislators, and better yet, they do not have to do it alone.
APHA is once again launching its Public Health Action campaign, or PHACT, and encouraging members and advocates to take time this summer to speak up on behalf of the public health issues that matter most.
"Summer is a great time to reach legislators, because because the summer recess allows them more time in their districts," said Donald Hoppert, APHA's director of government relations. "Constituents don't have to travel all the way to Washington, D.C., to be heard. They can just stop by their senators' and representatives' local offices."
This year, APHA is encouraging its members to reach out to their elected officials about three issues: protecting public health funding for agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration; protecting funding under the Affordable Care Act; and the reauthorization of the Farm Bill.
This year, legislators will be home in their districts three times: the Memorial Day recess, from May 26-June 1; the July 4 recess, from June 30-July 8; and the August recess, from Aug. 4-Sept. 9.
"We are at a critical point in public health funding," said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E). "We cannot miss this opportunity to tell members of Congress that further cuts to CDC and HRSA and to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, could spell disaster for public health in the United States."
To aid members and other public health advocates with their advocacy efforts, APHA has created the 2012 PHACT Campaign Toolkit. The toolkit provides fact sheets on each of APHA's major advocacy issues and sample phone scripts that advocates can use when they call a senator or representative's office.
It also includes a wide array of advocacy resources, including talking points on APHA priority issues, sample questions for public forums and town hall meetings, sample meeting requests, tips for meeting with members of Congress, media tips and tips for utilizing social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
The toolkit also includes a page of additional resources that can provide data and more information about advocacy topics.
Tips for getting an op-ed published in a local newspaper include starting early and submitting an op-ed or letter-to-the-editor to only one newspaper at a time, reaching out to the editorial page editor to ask about specific guidelines, following the submission guidelines and being persistent.
"Papers like to have original content, so try not to submit the same op-ed to two competing papers," Hoppert said.
Advocates can email firstname.lastname@example.org for sample op-eds and assistance with submitting an op-ed.
The toolkit also contains a follow-up sheet that participants can fill out to let APHA know about a visit with an elected official.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.apha.org/advocacy, contact APHA's government relations staff at 202-777-2513 or email email@example.com.