By Dr. Patrick Luedtke, M.D., President, APHL, Director, Unified State Laboratories, Utah Department of Health
I just returned from a wonderful meeting at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) national office in Washington DC with the EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe and Phil Metzger (Advisor to the Deputy Administrator). In attendance from APHL were Scott Becker (Executive Director), Peter Kyriacopoulos (Senior Director Public Policy), and Megan Latshaw (Environmental Health Program Director).
The core discussion revolved around the potential benefits of an EPA Laboratory Office that would serve to coordinate all environmental laboratory-based policy, practice, and program efforts in a cross cutting fashion. Additionally, this office would serve as a single point of contact for laboratory-based communication efforts to external partners.
A secondary discussion involved the need for a single data standard across EPA. This discussion included sharing knowledge of the challenges governmental environmental laboratories face concerning multiple data systems, as well as the major benefits that would accrue to our national environmental laboratory system should such a single data standard be adopted.
Most importantly, our conversation enabled us to describe the interaction between State and local governmental environmental laboratories and EPA, and share a vision on how that interaction can evolve and lead to even better health outcomes. All in all, it was deeply gratifying at a professional and personal level to engage in such a collegial and congenial dialogue – a dialogue that I am excited about continuing as the relationship between APHL and EPA matures and strengthens.
It is good to see our Federal Partners recognizing the need for their leadership at the national level, particular in these times when many states are losnig or lacking the resources they once had. Kudos to APHL for championing the cause for public health laboratories. At last month's FDA 50-State meeting in Denver there were quite similar themes discussed regarding FDA's role in food safety – here's hoping the "food safety bill" will pass this session.
Thanks for the positive feedback and encouragement Brian! We'll keep you posted on the follow-up. . .
APHL looks forward to continued collaboration with CDC, FDA, and FSIS around food safety activities undertaken in governmental laboratories, regardless of the status of current legislation. Partners at all levels and in all disciplines are facing resource issues as we strive to attain common goals towards reducing the burden of foodborne illnesses in the US. We will stay involved with CIFOR and the Partnership for Food Protection to help achieve such goals