Federal cuts hamper W.Va. chronic disease program

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Federal funding cuts will hamper West Virginia’s effort to address diabetes and other chronic diseases, a state health official says.

The Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease lost more than $2 million in federal funding. About 90 percent of the division’s budget comes from federal funding, Director Jessica Wright said.

“We are one of the work units in the Bureau for Public Health that’s just about completely dependent on federal funds,” Wright told the Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/141UAqW) in an email.

The division had focused on public awareness, prevention activities and intervention, taking a broad approach to addressing obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, increasing physical activity, healthy eating and breast-feeding. Now, the focus mainly will be on basic education and awareness activities.

“This broad approach will be significantly hampered by the reduction in funding,” Wright said.

“Limited or no funding will be available to strategically address chronic disease through intervention programs that can ultimately reduce the incidence of chronic disease and teach self-management activities to West Virginians living with an illness.”

The division plans to partner with other agencies that are addressing chronic illnesses.

“Typically, you bring resources to the table when you do that,” Wright said. “In this case, we won’t have those resources to bring as much as previously.”

The funding cuts haven’t resulted in layoffs, Wright said, “but by the same token, there are key leadership positions we won’t be able to sustain.”

Agencies will have to secure other funds to keep 13.5 contracted full-time equivalent positions whose funding will be cut.

“Right now, as far as I know — no one has lost their jobs. However, those FTEs have had to be moved to other funding sources per their agencies’ discretion,” Wright said.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com

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