“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us valuable lessons, and it is important to review and evaluate our actions to determine what worked and what didn’t. We need to be better prepared for future public health crises and this should be done through actions in different areas including investing in and strengthening the public health workforce, improving surveillance of infectious diseases, enhancing risk communication and community engagement, and embracing collaboration among organisations, countries and regions”.
The report highlights two strategic areas requiring organisational, political commitment and investment at national level. These areas are closely interconnected.
One area is the investment in the public health workforce. It is of vital importance to recruit, train and retain public health professionals, and attract young professionals, especially as the current public health workforce is aging, as well as plan for surge capacity when responding to a public health crisis.
The other strategic area relates to improvements and investment in preparedness planning and the need for a formalized decision making and crisis management structure that supports intersectoral work. Moreover, legislation governing the control of communicable diseases should also be updated and take into account ethical considerations and human rights.
At the operational level, lessons learned from the pandemic converge around increasing the capacities of public health professionals in risk communication and community engagement to tailor messages more appropriately. In addition, institutions need to develop robust but agile systems to collect and analyze different types of data in support of policy decisions and to dynamically adjust measures to control infectious disease outbreaks.
The new ECDC report is based on several expert consultations with EU country representatives, reports on lessons learned from various EU/EEA countries and an internal exercise conducted with ECDC staff.
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