New Public Health Approaches to Infectious Disease Threats

by Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH

Nov 2018

Dr. Lloyd F. Novick

The November-December issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice focuses on new public health approaches to infectious disease. These important trends are crystallized in our lead editorial “Infectious Disease Threats and Opportunities for Prevention” by Benjamin J. Silk, editorial board member who leads molecular epidemiology activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Tuberculosis Elimination. He writes of gains in life expectancy due in part from vaccination and antimicrobial therapies. However, now we are experiencing re-emergence of infectious disease threats, including human immunodeficiency virus and other pathogens of previously unrecognized etiology. Global factors in the 21st century may be associated with pandemic threats; Ebola, Zika, and influenza are stark examples. This outstanding editorial and introduction to the issue also reports on the opportunities to counter infectious disease problems through updated surveillance techniques, technological advances, and improved vaccination.

This issue illustrates the points in the editorial with articles showing advances in public health approaches to Ebola, Hepatitis C, HIV, Zika, TB, Salmonella, and immunization. Tara Kirk Sell and colleagues at the John Hopkins Center for Health Security report on the experiences of communities that have responded to confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Their article, “Public Health Resilience Checklist for High Consequence Infectious Diseases: Informed by the Domestic Ebola Response in the United States,” provides an opportunity for collective learning to improve responses to future High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID) events. Key informant interviews and focus groups were carried out with individuals who participated in EVD planning or response in Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; New York, New York; and Omaha, Nebraska. This type of article and others in this issue align with the mission of JPHMP: to disseminate current advances in public health practice.

Similarly, an article by Michele Macaraig and colleagues from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, “A National Survey on the use of Electronically Directly Observed Therapy (eDOT) for Treatment of Tuberculosis,” illustrates that a number of tuberculosis (TB) programs are adopting electronic directly observed therapy (eDOT) to supervise patient adherence. Fifty-six CDC-funded TB programs and an additional 57 local TB programs responded to the survey. Forty-seven (42%) of the programs were currently using eDOT, and an additional 41 (36%) were planning to implement this in the next year.

A first for our November issue is a new column, “Getting Practical,” from the de Beaumont Foundation, a sponsor of JPHMP. Authored by Brian C. Castrucci, Chief Executive Officer, and James B. Sprague, Chairman of the Board, the column is titled “Practical Solutions for a Healthier Workforce.” Workforce is a major focus for the de Beaumont Foundation, but as pointed out they have a broad interest in creating practical tools to solve problems as inspired by their founder, Pierre (Pete) de Beaumont, who led the Brookstone Company. This is a first column in what promises to be an exciting addition to each of our future issues.

During the month of November, we get the opportunity to vote on Election Day. Erika Martin, a frequent contributor from Rockefeller University, points out in her commentary “Get Out the Vote: The Role of Public Health Professionals in Raising Awareness of Coroner Elections,” the public health significance of the election of coroners. Elections at all levels are very important to the future of our nation and public health.

Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH, is the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and Professor Emeritus of the Department of Public Health at the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University. Follow him on Twitter. [Full Bio]

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