Bangor expert advises on US public health emergency preparedness and response
The lessons learned from responding to public health emergencies tend to fade, and public health funding and research priorities shift.
That is why an expert from Bangor University’s School of Health Sciences was called on to join a US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine review of the current state of the evidence for public health emergency preparedness and response (PHEPR) in the United States.
The report produced by the committee was released recently and presented to relevant US Congressional Committees. It makes recommendations aimed at ensuring that PHEPR practice is grounded in robust evidence for what works, where, why, and for whom.
Jane Noyes, Professor in Health and Social Services Research and Child Health at Bangor University said:
“Our leaders rely on having the best evidence to inform their decision-making in public health emergencies such as Covid 19. The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention funded this ground breaking report and it was a privilege to be invited to serve on the National Academies for Science, Engineering and Medicine committee undertaking the work.
Eminent researchers and practitioners worked together to produce the report, which is highly relevant to our leaders who are grappling with how best to manage Covid 19. The report also sets out how we can learn from pandemics such as Covid 19, and conduct better quality research whilst public health emergencies are ongoing.”
The report stresses that Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response practitioners need evidence about what has worked for whom, why, and at what cost.
The report states that a lack of a strong evidence base impedes effect responses to public health emergencies and may contribute to the needless loss of lives and wasted resources.
There are a variety of research methods for evaluating Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response research, from randomized controlled trials to qualitative studies to exploratory case studies. The report calls for clear guidance on what type of research method is best for answering specific questions; and how each research method will contribute to the evidence base.
Prof Noyes adds:
“Continuous learning should be the norm, not the exception, for the public health emergency preparedness and response field. Increasingly complex public health emergencies present an opportunity to perform research and evaluation – even in real-time – to better inform future decisions.”
This report recommends that the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention lead the development of a National Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Science Framework – working with other relevant agencies – to establish an enduring authority and infrastructure for supporting high-quality research before, during, and after public health emergencies. The infrastructure for supporting such research should be in place before the next public health emergency occurs.
Although undertaken for the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the report is relevant to other Governments and sections have been written to reflect the current Covid 19 pandemic. ‘Evidence-Based Practice for Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response’ by the US Centre for Disease Control is available here: http://www.nap.edu/catalog/25650