The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of investments in public health. Yet state funding for Louisiana’s Office of Public Health was cut substantially in the years after the Great Recession. A new report by Louisiana Budget Project Policy Director Stacey Roussel documents these cuts, which reduced the resources available to fight chronic and communicable disease, manage public health data and ensure the safety of our water and food supplies.

“Per-capita state spending on public health has been almost cut in half since the Great Recession,” Roussel said. “If Louisiana had simply maintained its investment at pre-recession levels, our communities would have reaped the benefits of nearly 9.4 million more hours and $380 million more in public health investments.”

Studies have shown that public health is a proven and cost-effective way to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, develop and deploy life-saving immunizations, limit the harm caused by chronic diseases and promote community health through shared information and coordinated systems. These sustained investments also come with strong return on investment – 14 to 1 according to one study.

“While the coronavirus has brought new urgency to the need for stronger investments in public health, the best time to make those investments is before the next pandemic strikes,” Roussel said.