Improving equity in the public health sector cannot be done alone, it requires strategic administrative partnerships and learning from one another. In a breakout session during the Emerging Lessons series, The National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) fostered a conversation to share and discuss the lessons they’ve carried forward from the COVID-19 pandemic and how no one entity works better than those who work together.
Working to fill the gaps in public health needs requires listening, understanding, and creating plans with action at the center of them. Public health is a foundational part of social infrastructure, touching the lives of everyone. The pandemic has been an opportunity for exposing the need to work together. It’s been an all-hands-on-deck event that laid the groundwork for long-lasting public health relationships. It’s a chance to see how under-resourced some communities have been, and where the right partnerships can connect in an effort to improve health equity.
“When we talk about the lack of public health infrastructure in our communities, we’re not just talking about the lack of governmental public health infrastructure,” Michael Rhein, President, and CEO of the Institute for Public Health Innovation said. “We’re talking about the lack of public-private-partnership based infrastructure and I think that it’s really critical for the CDC and local governments to understand that concept in order to build that capacity.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Public Health Institute, Dr. Renée Canady says in a hyper-politicized environment, public health is facing unique challenges. Dr. Canady has been around through different administrations and says MPHI has enjoyed support from both sides of the aisle while pursuing its mission. The organization is able to work in the background supporting state initiatives and lending an administrative hand when needed. It’s not enough to simply make money and resources available, that funding has to get into the right hands which is where NNPHI stepped up during the pandemic.
The group led several initiatives including helping to identify the right people for Personal Protective Equipment grants, improving contact tracing, and locating experts. Without these kinds of partnerships, resources wouldn’t get to the people who need them the most, and many of these tasks would be insurmountable for the state to handle alone. Identifying strategic administrative partnerships means utilizing resources in order to improve health equity.
The Centers for Disease Control is able to make the biggest difference when its partnerships are engaged. Deputy Director for Global Services at the Centers for Disease Control, Jamie Legier says the partnership with administrative partners is key for getting the funding to people who need it. It’s never been more important. The organization can carry out its mission of improving public health because of these kinds of strategic administrative partnerships that identify the diverse needs of each community.
“COVID-19 has taught us how we can properly execute programs both current and future partners need to combat public health issues and target racial health equity appropriately by working with people who understand the needs of their region,” Legier said.
Members of health departments and public health professionals alike can benefit from this panel discussion. For more information, and for direct access to this interview and other, visit NNPHI’s Vimeo page. For access to additional resources, articles, and insights, visit NNPHI’s website.