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Burr Releases New Report on Improving Existing Public Health Programs, Recommendations for Maintaining Vigilance for Next Threat

Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a new report highlighting longstanding federal public health programs that support state and local health departments, and recommendations for improving these programs based on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The policy brief, titled “Preparing for Future Health Threats: Improving and Sustaining Foundational Public Health Capabilities in Response to COVID-19,” is the third in a series of white papers released by the Ranking Member on the government’s continued pandemic response. The first installment, titled “Modernizing CDC: Ensuring a Strategic Approach and Improving Accountability,” was released in May 2021, and the second paper, titled “Reforming and Strengthening ASPR: Ensuring Specialized Capabilities, Sufficient Capacity, and Specific Authorities to Meet 21st Century Public Health Security Threats,” was released in June 2021.

“Local, state, and federal efforts together provide the framework of public health response in our nation,” the report states. “Whether in the midst of an emergency response or during routine day-to-day operations, it is clear that public health preparedness programs need to be updated and improved both to secure public health and to prevent the next pandemic.”

The report concludes, “Improving the strategic focus, oversight, and sustained visibility of the foundational federal programs will increase overall public health capacity and better position us to address public health threats today and in the future.”

Key recommendations:

The policy brief, “Preparing for Future Health Threats: Improving and Sustaining Foundational Public Health Capabilities in Response to COVID-19,” examines current federal public health programs and ways to enhance foundational capabilities to better support state and local health departments. These capabilities give health departments the resources they need to operate effectively during everyday operations and public health emergencies. Specifically, the report includes the following recommendations:

  • Addressing Gaps in Public Health Capabilities: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Congress, collaborating with states, localities, and other stakeholders, should evaluate our ability to ensure public health programs are meeting the mark, and address silos that may exist within and between programs. 
  • Maintaining a Constant Vigilance: A strategic focus on public health preparedness must be maintained by increasing the visibility of public health programs and better characterizing the impact they have on day-to-day public health to encourage continued support.

To read the complete policy brief, click here.

To read the first installment on the CDC’s pandemic response and key recommendations, click here. To read the second installment on reforming and strengthening the role of ASPR, click here.