Public Health Infrastructure Workgroup Objectives (24)
About the Workgroup
Approach and Rationale
Public health infrastructure provides communities, states, and the nation with the capacity to prevent disease, promote health, and prepare for and respond to both ongoing challenges and emerging threats to health. Essential public health services1 depend on the presence of a basic infrastructure, including a trained and competent workforce, strong data and information systems, and public health organizations that can assess and respond to community health needs. While a strong infrastructure depends on many partners, government public health agencies and health departments play a central role in a solid public health infrastructure.
Core objectives selected by the PHI Workgroup address distinct and concrete opportunities for monitoring three different elements of public health infrastructure: high-performing health departments, collaborative planning to address health priorities, and workforce development. One set of objectives monitors state, local, and tribal health departments to see if they’re meeting national standards and achieving voluntary accreditation through a national program.2 A second set of objectives assesses whether states, territories, and communities are working collaboratively through multisector partnerships to address health priorities through health improvement planning. Finally, two objectives examine continuing education at the state and local level.
Developmental and research objectives highlight high-priority issues that lack data or evidence. This includes topics like laboratory services, quality improvement, informatics, workforce composition, and training. Research objectives also illustrate the need to understand the impact of infrastructure-building efforts on health outcomes.
Throughout the Public Health Infrastructure topic, similar objectives address different levels of the infrastructure — state, territorial, local, and tribal. It’s especially important to collect data about the nation’s tribal and territorial public health infrastructure.
Emerging Issues in Public Health Infrastructure
Public health infrastructure has always been a complex and challenging area to describe and support. This is further complicated by the diverse jurisdictions and evolving roles of the agencies that comprise our nation’s public health system. Public health agencies must be agile enough to address changing populations and emerging issues.
In 2011, the establishment of a national accreditation program created opportunities for improving performance and accountability of health departments. More recent efforts have addressed innovations in service delivery — like leveraging technology and data in new ways, enhancing the use of multi-sector partnerships, and sharing services across public health agencies’ jurisdictional boundaries. Resources remain a challenge, and there are efforts to explore sustainable financing strategies for foundational capabilities and services. Finally, public health systems and services research continues to play an important role by providing the evidence and data needed to understand what will achieve the best outcomes.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). National Public Health Performance Standards. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/publichealthservices/essentialhealthservices.html
Public Health Accreditation Board. (2019). Retrieved from www.phaboard.org