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Pandemic and Public Health Emergency Planning

A position paper from the American College of Physicians (ACP) offers “several policy recommendations for enhancing federal, state, and local preparedness for future pandemic and public health emergencies. This policy paper builds on various statements produced by ACP throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including on the ethical distribution of vaccinations and resources, conditions to resume economic and social activity, and efforts to protect the health and well-being of medical professionals, among others.”

Reflecting on significant gaps in the U.S. pandemic and public health emergency response system, the authors write: “At the federal level, government responses were undercut by a lack of centralized coordination, inadequately defined responsibilities, and an under-resourced national stockpile. Contradictory and unclear guidance throughout the early months of the pandemic, along with inconsistent funding to public health agencies, also created notable variance in state and local responses. The lack of a coordinated response added pressure to an already overwhelmed health care system, which was forced to resort to rationing care and personal protective equipment, creating moral distress and trauma for health care workers and their patients. Despite these severe shortcomings, the COVID-19 pandemic also highlighted successful policies and approaches, such as Operation Warp Speed, which led to the fastest development and distribution of a vaccine in history.”

Editorial: “As we come out of the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that we use the lessons learned to be well prepared for the next pandemic or other public health crises,” writes an editorialist. “If we do not, we risk sliding back to where things were in 2019. The choice is both stark and consequential. The ACP position paper offers thoughtful steps we must take to build on innovations and address our gaps in healthcare delivery and equity. We have made real progress on pandemic preparedness over the past 2 years. Now is the time to not just continue that work but accelerate it—to ensure that when the next health crisis hits, we are ready.”

Source: Annals of Internal Medicine