Joining Together to Protect the Public’s Health

In a Morning Consult op-ed published today, CDC Foundation President and CEO Judy Monroe, MD, highlighted a recent survey revealing Americans believe only 35 percent of children across the globe are vaccinated for preventable diseases such as diphtheria and pertussis. The true number, as the survey reveals, is 86 percent. Judy points out that this pessimistic survey result illuminates misperceptions around the success of public health protection efforts.

She shares that the true aim of protecting the public’s health is to improve the lives of all people noting that in the past 20 years there have been significant improvements including increased life expectancy and lowered poverty rates across the world.

Based on improvements in vaccination and reduction in smoking and HIV rates in many countries, Judy emphasizes that now is not the time to step back from investments in public health. Instead, she argues society must build on successful investments and programs.

As society builds on these successes, Judy writes, “We must start any and all conversation around public health with the knowledge that progress does not occur in a silo or without collaboration, whether it be through conducting research, implementing education programs, recommending policies or administering public health services.”

The only true way to solve today’s public health problems and emergencies is through public-private partnerships, Judy believes. “Individuals, groups and organizations have greater positive impact and can accomplish more collectively than individually.”

Search through any news feed, and it’s apparent that the world today faces many difficult challenges—from natural disasters to infectious and chronic diseases. Judy notes that a rapid, sustained response is required to address these.

“Public-private partnerships are able to cut through bureaucratic red tape and be on the ground quickly in a disaster zone, raise the required funds and respond to specific, targeted needs,” she writes. “As we continue to think about effective response efforts, it is also imperative we rely on proven public-private partnership models that we know are successful.”

While there is no one size-fits-all strategy, Judy believes philanthropy in public health needs to remain focused on eliminating diseases, preventing the next problem from happening and responding to emergencies and natural disasters.

There is some good news, though, according to Judy.

“Philanthropies and the private sector are contributing more on an annual basis,” she states. “They believe that addressing our world’s most pressing public health challenges saves lives and protects the health, safety and security of America and the world. Let’s not slow down now.”

Pierce Nelson is the vice president for communications for the CDC Foundation.