The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare long-standing inequities among populations, weaknesses within an antiquated public health infrastructure and limited progress in supporting and enhancing a capable public health workforce reflecting diversity of those they serve (i.e., race, ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, cultural background and spoken/written languages). Public health infrastructure must be transformed by equipping state, tribal, local and territorial public health agencies to strategically address complex, interrelated social and economic systems which lead to disproportionally poor health outcomes for marginalized populations; to enhance cross-sector collaboration; and to and modernize data systems.
The National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) will launch the National Center for Workforce, Infrastructure and Data Systems, which will provide capacity building assistance for the 111 health agencies awarded under Component A of CDC-RFA-OE22-2203-Strengthening U.S. Public Health Infrastructure, Workforce, and Data Systems. The National Center will assist health departments in implementing key Component A strategies (e.g., recruiting, onboarding, training and retaining staff; enhancing foundational capabilities; and modernizing data infrastructure) by providing training and technical assistance; evaluating the overall initiative; supporting data modernization; and coordinating and communicating across all Component A & Component B recipients.
NNPHI and its public health institutes have documented associations with many STLT agencies. The National Center engages public health institutes as Innovation Hubs and national partner organizations representing the largest workforce segments. Over the 5-year initiative, it will accelerate prevention, preparedness, and response to emerging threats; improve other public health outcomes; and increase achievement of Component A grant outcomes and strengthen A recipients’ capacity.
In collaboration with the Public Health Training Center Network and an Expert Review Workgroup representative of the broad public health workforce, NNPHI is in the final stages of developing a public health Racial Justice Competency Model (RJCM). The RJCM grounds practitioners in a shared understanding of how racism shows up in public health practice. Public health practitioners can use this model to ensure trainings, job descriptions, performance appraisals, and other policies/ practices are equity-centered; and to increase the competency of the public health workforce to address health disparities and reduce the racial health equity gap. The National Center will ground all its work in the RJCM.