Public Policy Challenges in Rethinking Public Health: Comparative Perspectives

This workshop is the first phase in the development of a book manuscript that has already been negotiated with World Scientific Press as part of their Global Health Economies and Public Policy series. In the spirit of the JM Network on Health Law and Policy, this project is an interdisciplinary undertaking involving public health specialists in the fields of health services research, medicine, law, the social sciences, and government.

The purpose of this workshop is to give participants, prior to writing a formal draft of their respective chapters, a chance to reflect on the experiences of countries both within and outside of the EU as they have weathered the global public health crises and, more importantly, as they begin to think more deeply about how – or whether – their system of public health ought (or can) to be restructured. Each participant will present a brief and largely informal (15-20 minute) account of how their state/jurisdiction is rethinking public health (or not).

The purpose here is to identify points of commonality (or divergence) that may serve as an analytical template for analysis going forward to phase 2 (individual preparation of country reports in written format, following a clear [but flexible] format). 

Questions to consider in your first informal presentation:

·       How is the public health system of the respective state/jurisdiction structured/funded/regulated, especially with reference to the larger system of health care? (eg, the level and extent of decentralization; the power and authority of PH officials, etc)

·       What were the key PH challenges that covid exposed?

·       What kinds of strategies or policy directions are informing any potential PH reforms? Is there a greater willingness to think about wider health system management (eg, health human resources, surgical capacity, mental health policy) within a broader public health lens?

·       What are the barriers and facilitators (political, economic, structural, technological, cultural) to public health reform in this jurisdiction?

·       To what extent is PH reform constrained or facilitated by the larger international context (eg, the EU’s public health treaty bases; trade agreements; biosurveillance networks, etc).

·       What are the key policy tensions or tradeoffs in pursuing PH reform (eg, balancing public health goals v the demands of primary or acute care; disease surveillance v health promotion, etc).

·       How do public health reforms fit into wider social and political priorities or narratives (eg, economic objectives, social inclusion, etc).

We are interested not only in how states respond to common themes or variables, but also any factors or variables that may have been more sui generis in determining public health responses (eg, did PH strategies need to accommodate discrete ethnic groups? Did a state have - or not have - a domestic pharmaceutical industry that affected its ability to provide vaccines in a timely manner, etc?)

The overarching objective here is not simply to identify best practices or policies in PH management that can or should be incorporated into public health reform but, more profoundly, to identify structural or political barriers to change (as well as, more optimistically, political or technological strategies capable of facilitating such reforms).