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A Need for a Public Health Workforce to Control COVID-19 and Address Health Disparities

July 21, 2021

There are new challenges to public health that become apparent every year, and as such the landscape of health and healthcare is an ever-changing environment. Even now as COVID-19 remains at the forefront, we learn of different, more sustainable ways of controlling the spread of the virus. In fact, strengthening a robust, well-trained, public health workforce in the United States is key to not only controlling COVID-19, but also in addressing health disparities and other issues.

In a paper written for Open Forum Infectious Diseases, an official journal of the Infectious Disease Society of America (ISDA), Executive Director Dr. Ted Long talks about the need for a public health workforce that can mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and also to tackle other disease burdens and health disparities.

Read more about the short- and long-term benefits of upkeeping a strong public health workforce, as well as lessons learned from the impact of building this workforce in the early pandemic here: https://academic.oup.com/ofid/article/8/7/ofab304/6312662

Key points:

  • In the short term, a public health workforce is needed to keep COVID-19 under control.
  • Public health workers can reinvigorate other longstanding programs for control of communicable diseases.
  • A public health workforce can be utilized in current and future health initiatives that include public health education, support for noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, mental health disorders, substance use disorders, future health threats, and climate change.
  • A public health workforce can help to address health disparities.
  • It is imperative that barriers to upscaling the current workforce are addressed with federal resources, local, and state coordination.