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State health division's budget cut

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --  State health officials say a more than $2 million cut in federal funding will affect nearly every program in a division meant to address chronic disease in West Virginia.

About 90 percent of the budget for the Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease within the Bureau for Public Health comes from federal funds, and that federal money has been reduced, 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 said.

The funding cuts are effective immediately.

Wright said until now, the division has taken a broad approach to addressing obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, increasing physical activity, healthy eating and breast-feeding. It focused on public awareness, prevention activities and evidence-based intervention.

"This broad approach will be significantly hampered by the reduction in funding," Wright wrote in an email to the Gazette. "The Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease will be forced to focus mainly on basic awareness and education activities.

 "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."

Wright said that no layoffs have been made because of the funding cuts, "but by the same token, there are key leadership positions we won't be able to sustain."

A breakdown of the program losses indicates funding will be cut for 13.5 contracted full-time positions.

"It will be up to those [contracted] agencies to secure funds to keep those FTEs," Wright said.  "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."

With programs cut, Wright said the division will partner with other agencies that are addressing chronic illnesses.

"Typically, you bring resources to the table when you do that," she said. "In this case, we won't have those resources to bring as much as previously."

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.

 


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