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New report lays out roadmap for modernizing the U.S. public health system


The Kresge Foundation, along with eight other coalition groups and the Bipartisan Policy Center, has released a new report, Public Health Forward: Modernizing the U.S. Public Health System, a five-year roadmap for public health leaders and elected officials to build a more equitable, robust, and sustainable public health system across the United States. The recommendations were shaped by a bipartisan task force of current and former governors, mayors, elected representatives, nonprofit, public health, and health care executives.

With investment in and modernization of the public health system, the report sets a vision where the United States is becoming a healthier nation, able to respond to an array of public health challenges—future pandemics, mental illness, substance abuse, obesity—all while ensuring every American has the opportunity to achieve their best health and well-being.

“State and local elected policymakers and public health leaders are well positioned to lead a transformation so that the U.S. can become a healthier nation. We urge them to use this opportunity to advance the nation’s health equity, safety, security, and economic prosperity through sustained investments in public health,” said Health Program Managing Director Monica Valdes Lupi.

For this vision to become reality, BPC and coalition organizations recommend the following actions in six core areas to modernize the public health system:

  • Financing: provide flexible funding and maximize existing assets to support public health services and capabilities and evaluate the social and economic impact of public health programs and strategies.
  • Data and Information Technology: strengthen the collection of prompt and actionable public health data and invest in data sharing between public health departments and health care entities.
  • Workforce: invest in the recruitment and retention of a diverse and inclusive governmental public health workforce. Improve hiring and promotion policies and processes to ensure high-quality public health services.
  • Public Health Laws and Governance: review, evaluate, and modernize public health governance structures and statutory responsibilities. Support and clearly communicate the roles of public health departments to the public.
  • Partnerships: incentivize partnerships between public health departments and other sectors and stakeholders. Establish a dedicated body charged with routinely monitoring, assessing, and influencing the implications for health in all government sector policy discussions.
  • Community Engagement: invest in long-term relationship-building and partnership development with residents and community-based organizations and in Tribal consultation. Invest in increasing the capacity of community-based organizations and provide resources to support collaboration with public health departments.

The Public Health Forward report was produced in collaboration with: Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; Big Cities Health Coalition; CDC Foundation; de Beaumont Foundation; National Association of County and City Health Officials; Pew Charitable Trusts; Public Health Accreditation Board; and Sunflower Foundation.

Download the full report: Public Health Forward: Modernizing the U.S. Public Health System.