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Summit Emphasizes Need for Vision That Improves Health for All Through Governance, Law and Finance

Third Summit in Future of Public Health Series Draws Critical Connection Between Three Essential Functions and Uniformly Effective Public Health Services

ATLANTA, March 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. public health system features three intertwined functions—public health governance, law and finance. If improperly aligned, they create a tension, like during the COVID-19 pandemic, impeding the plans and services needed to keep people healthy. As the nation works to end and emerge from the pandemic, it is time to reflect on and strengthen how these functions work together. The third summit in the Lights, Camera, Action: Future of Public Health series held last week focused on that topic, emphasizing the need to bring all sectors and communities together to meet every day public health needs and address the next emergency.

In framing the key topics, Judy Monroe, MD, CDC Foundation president and CEO said, "Governance provides the context for how public health functions in a jurisdiction, while public health law provides the legal guidance and authority required for healthy communities. Financing supports the skilled workforce, the state-of-the-art science laboratories, and the forward-leaning programs, in essence the mechanics of public health."

Reflecting on the events of the past two years of pandemic, Scott Burris, JD, professor and director of Temple University Beasley School of Law Center for Public Health Law Research and the College of Public Health, said "Even in emergencies, public health has the first chance to define responsive measures. We will never have more control over the whole process than at that start when we are figuring out the initial policies and processes. What we clearly saw in COVID was not a problem with law in the books, but at how they were used effectively."

Perhaps nowhere has that tension been felt more acutely than in the debate around states rights versus the use of broadly coordinated public health measures aimed at protecting all of society.

"What if we were able to bring disparate groups together in the area of governance and law and finance to really focus collectively on the big picture as we work with our policymakers and our government officials," said Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of the American Public Health Association.

She continued, "What if we treated the conflicts that we've encountered between governmental public health and some of our elected leaders in home rule jurisdictions—I work in one of those who champion state's rights—as we treat working with diverse cultures and diverse communities. This approach encourages us to learn what makes those policymakers tick in order to reach common ground."

Oxiris Barbot, senior fellow for public health and social justice of the JPB Foundation and former health commissioner for New York City and Baltimore, encouraged bringing an equity approach to these discussions, stating "Equity for the communities must always be at the center of the conversation when laws are being created and enforced for both emergencies and non-emergencies. From my perspective it's looking at how we hardwire equity in the ways that we operationalize the laws that we are responsible for carrying out."

How to fully and effectively utilize new public health system funding was also a key topic. While noting the hundreds of billions of dollars in overdue and much-needed new public health investments made as part of the COVID-19 response, Jeff Levi, PhD, professor of Health Policy and Management at The George Washington University, emphasized the new opportunity to rebuild and strengthen the public health system.

Summit Emphasizes Need for Vision That Improves Health for All Through Governance, Law and Finance

"In thinking about how we respond to the pandemic—how we rebuild from the pandemic—the federal government and Congress has taken an all-of-government approach, and when we are thinking in our communities, we also have to take an all of government, all of society approach," he said.

But he noted that it is not clear if this support will be sustained over time. A key to ensuring it is sustained is articulating a communitywide vision, according to Levy. "This means thinking very differently about how we sometimes spend money. Public health can't and shouldn't go it alone … we need to be supporting other entities that can do this work and build the credibility," calling out the important role of intermediaries like foundations and community-based organizations.

A full recording of the latest summit is available on the summit series website at www.futureofpublichealth.org. A podcast that builds on the topics of this summit is available on Contagious Conversations.

The United Health Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of UnitedHealth Group; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and The Pew Charitable Trusts are providing initial support for the Lights, Camera, Action Summit Series. This support is aimed at helping to catalyze actions to rebuild confidence, foster health equity and transform our nation's public health system. Others interested in supporting this mission should contact the CDC Foundation at advancement@cdcfoundation.org.

The CDC Foundation is convening the summit series in collaboration with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) and other public health partners. The two summits in the series to date focused on achieving a diverse and robust public health workforce and the need to modernize public health data systems. One currently scheduled future summit will focus on Catalyzing Cross-Sectoral Partnerships and Community Engagement (March 23, 2022).

About the CDC Foundation: The CDC Foundation helps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) save and improve lives by unleashing the power of collaboration between CDC, philanthropies, corporations, organizations and individuals to protect the health, safety and security of America and the world. The CDC Foundation is the go-to nonprofit authorized by Congress to mobilize philanthropic partners and private-sector resources to support CDC's critical health protection mission. Since 1995, the CDC Foundation has raised over $1.6 billion and launched more than 1,200 programs impacting a variety of health threats from chronic disease conditions including cardiovascular disease and cancer, to infectious diseases like rotavirus and HIV, to emergency responses, including COVID-19 and Ebola. The CDC Foundation managed hundreds of programs in the United States and in more than 160 countries last year. Learn more at www.cdcfoundation.org and follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.

About ASTHO: ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and Freely Associated States, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice. For more information, visit https://www.astho.org/.

About BCHC: The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) is a forum for the leaders of America's largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact nearly 62 million people, or one in five Americans. For more information, visit https://www.bigcitieshealth.org.

About NACCHO: The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation's nearly 3,000 local health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. For more information about NACCHO, please visit www.naccho.org.

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SOURCE CDC Foundation

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