HHS Strategic Goals and Objectives - FY 2001 . Goal 5 - Improve the Nation's Public Health Systems


In addition to behavior, access, and quality, the vitality of the public health system in the United States is essential to ensuring and improving the health of Americans. Therefore, Goal 5 is concerned with making sure the infrastructure of the public health system is sound.

Weaknesses in the public health infrastructure have been documented since the 1988 report from the Institute of Medicine, The Future of Public Health (National Academy of Sciences, IOM, Committee for the Study of the Future of Public Health; Division of Health Care Services, 1988). Most recently (February 1999), a General Accounting Office study reported that over half of state public health laboratories do not conduct tests for surveillance of hepatitis C and penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae. According to the study, just over half of the state public health laboratories have access to advanced molecular technology. The study reported that public health directors believe that there are not enough laboratory staff who can perform tests and that there are insufficient numbers of epidemiology staff who can analyze data and translate surveillance information into disease prevention and control activities. The laboratories at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are overcrowded. Other data indicate that state and local public health staff have limited access to technology. For example, only 48 percent of local health department directors have continuous high speed Internet access.