APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD, joined members of Congress yesterday on Capitol Hill including (left) Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-Florida) and (center) House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to discuss the need for emergency Zika funding. Photo by David Fouse/APHA

APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD, joined members of Congress on Capitol Hill including (left) Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-Florida) and (center) House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to discuss the need for emergency Zika funding. Photo by David Fouse/APHA

It’s been a busy and challenging year for APHA and other advocates who work with decision-makers to address public health issues. Despite their political differences, however, our nation’s elected and appointed leaders did manage to advance a number of measures in 2016 that will improve the health of all Americans.

“Faced with a deeply divided Congress — during a contentious election year, no less — we were able to gain ground on many key issues that will make a significant impact on public health,” said Donald Hoppert, director of government relations at APHA. “We are thrilled to see the positive influence our advocacy and the work of APHA members and partners continues to have on public health.”

As the year draws to a close, here’s our list of top public health advocacy wins in 2016:

Obama, Congress approve funding to combat Zika virus

Congress approved $1.1 billion in federal funding to combat the Zika virus as part of a bipartisan measure to fund the federal government. While the money fell short of President Barack Obama’s original ask of $1.9 billion, it is an important first step in the effort to support the public health workforce, strengthen prevention, enhance laboratory capacity and meet the needs of affected families.

Supreme Court protects access to reproductive care

The Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt safeguarded women’s reproductive health by striking down a Texas law that imposed harmful and medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion clinics and clinicians.

FDA rule covers unregulated tobacco products

The Food and Drug Administration’s deeming rule extended its authority to cover all previously unregulated tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, gels, and pipe and waterpipe tobacco.

Rally to support abortion access at U.S. Supreme Court's March 2, 2016 Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt hearing. (Photo by Lindsey Wahowiak/The Nation's Health/APHA)

Rally to support abortion access at U.S. Supreme Court’s March 2, 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt hearing. (Photo by Lindsey Wahowiak/The Nation’s Health/APHA)

OSHA silica rule protects workers

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration finalized a rule to reduce occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica, protecting the health of an estimated 2.2 million U.S. workers.

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act addresses opioid abuse

Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which establishes strategies to address opioid abuse through enhanced programs for prevention, treatment, recovery and overdose reversal.

Supreme Court supports University of Texas affirmative action admissions policy

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of University of Texas-Austin in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, upholding the university’s affirmative action policy, which APHA and other advocates agree has a positive impact on the U.S. public health workforce.

What was your favorite advocacy victory from this year? Share it with us in the comments below.