The Editor’s Podcast: An Urgent Call for Public Health Firefighters

The Editor’s Podcast appears with each new issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and offers a closer look at the articles published in the latest issues with guest appearances by authors, guest editors, and others.

Listen to the full podcast below.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the erosion of public health infrastructure over the past decades and the need to revitalize a viable and talented frontline public health workforce. Contemporary outbreak containment and vaccination campaigns owe much of their success to lessons learned from early contact investigation efforts.

Authors of a new commentary in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice look to the largely unappreciated history of domestic disease control exemplified by key US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention programs for the breadth of skills, competencies, and workforce capacity necessary to be highly effective in the future.

Despite their documented success, these programs have quietly eroded over recent decades. Shifting public health priorities, the general disinvestment in core public health infrastructure, and the economic recession of 2007-2009 contributed to the loss of more than 50 000 state and local public health workers.

Rebuilding for now and the future will require more than quick-fix, short-term detailing projects, apps, cold-call interviews, or other forms of digital contact tracing and outreach.

Read “An Urgent Call for Public Health Firefighters” in the May 2021 issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

Listen to the Full Podcast

About the Authors

C. Patrick Chaulk, MD, MPH

C. Patrick Chaulk, MD, MPH, most recently, was the Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of HIV/STD Services, Baltimore City Health Department. He also served as the Interim Deputy Commissioner for Population Health and Interim Assistant Commissioner for Clinical Services. Dr. Chaulk was the Co-Chair of the Baltimore City HIV/AIDS Commission and HIV Planning Group and a member of the Greater Baltimore HIV Health Services Planning Council. Dr. Chaulk is a pediatrician and preventive medicine physician with extensive experience in infectious diseases, including STDs, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. Dr. Chaulk served on the Institute of Medicine’s The Elimination of Tuberculosis in the United States (1998 -2000) and its Modeling Community Containment for Pandemic Influenza A (2006). [Full bio]

Ron Bialek, MPP

Ron Bialek, MPP, has been President and CEO of the Public Health Foundation (PHF) since 1997. He focuses PHF’s efforts on developing and implementing innovative strategies for improving performance of public health agencies and systems. One initiative was to create the Nation’s most comprehensive population health learning network – TRAIN, with more than 3 million users. [Full bio]


Dr. Jonathan Zenilman

Dr. Jonathan Zenilman is Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University, and is formerly the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins Bayview. He has over 35 years’ experience in public health and clinical research, which has included developing and implementing programs at the CDC, Baltimore City Health Department, and Johns Hopkins.