JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University’s Dr. Randy Wykoff underscored the increasing importance of the public health profession in the nation’s overall well-being while serving as the keynote speaker at a statewide gathering of public health workers in Appleton, Wis.
Wykoff, dean of the ETSU College of Public Health, was invited to provide a keynote address to the annual conference of the Wisconsin Public Health Association-Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards. In his presentation, Wykoff stressed the unique role of local health departments in making the nation healthier.
The United States ranks 34th in the world for life expectancy, Wykoff said. He stressed that local health departments will need to follow three basic actions to effect the positive changes needed in the United States.
Health departments in the future, Wykoff said, will need to target chronic diseases with the same aggressiveness used to attack infectious diseases a century ago and focus on using data that more clearly define the health status of people and less on geographic regions. He said health departments should also broaden partnerships to work more closely with those community organizations addressing economic development and educational achievement.
Wykoff leads the only accredited College of Public Health in Tennessee. Before he came to ETSU, he held public health policy positions on the federal level.
As a deputy assistant secretary for health with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, he oversaw the release and implementation of Healthy People 2010, the nation’s 10-year plan for improving health. Wykoff also was the associate commissioner for AIDS and special health issues and associate commissioner for operations during 11 years with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He has served as part of a program to help educate new health officers from across the country, brought together by the National Association of City and County Health Officers.