Just weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began a comprehensive internal review with a view to restructuring, the agency’s director announced Friday that the team coordinating the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic had identified a number of would give its functions back to other departments .
But the so-called incident management structure, which was initially brought together to respond to the public health emergency, will not be disbanded and will continue to meet “the demands of this evolving pandemic,” according to a letter sent Friday by the agency to the agency. employees has been sent. director, dr. Rochelle Walensky.
The move marks the beginning of efforts to make extensive changes at the agency, whose public reputation and reputation has suffered in recent years. For example, 60 percent of Americans say they are confused by changes in official pandemic recommendations, according to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center.
But the letter from Dr. Walensky provided few details about the changes. A statement in response to questions from DailyExpertNews said only that the “first phase of data collection has been completed, and now the director will synthesize the information, identify themes, and prioritize next steps to formalize approaches and find new ways.” to take responsibility for the changing environment.”
dr. Walensky told employees last month that the CDC, which has been criticized for its recent handling of the pandemic, would undergo a review and evaluation by Jim Macrae, a federal official who has held several senior positions within the Department of Health. and Human Services. That review began on April 11.
The review also looks at modernizing the ways the agency develops and deploys scientific research, and what other strategic improvements can be made to better serve public health, such as better surveillance systems.
To that end, the reviewers conducted more than 100 interviews and held nearly 50 one-on-one conversations with public health leaders both inside and outside the agency, said Dr. walensky.
The CDC has long been admired for its scientific approach to improving public health. Many scientists from around the world have been trained by its experts and have followed the standards and methods of the agency.
But the CDC’s infrastructure has been neglected for decades, along with the public health system in general. Agency scientists stumbled upon the flawed design of a diagnostic test early in the pandemic, then made some recommendations about masking, isolation and quarantine that critics blamed based on insufficient evidence.
On Friday, Dr. Walensky suggested that health equality would be a priority for the agency in the future. The pandemic exposed stark racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States. Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native adults were hospitalized with Covid and died at higher rates than white Americans.
The causes of the inequalities are many, and include difficulties in accessing care, distrust of the medical system, higher rates of existing health problems such as obesity and diabetes, and socioeconomic conditions, such as overcrowded housing and customer-facing jobs, which increased the chances of exposure. to the virus.
dr. Walensky said the lessons learned from the pandemic and the feedback she has received made it clear “that it is time to step back and strategically position CDC to facilitate and support the future of public health.” , with a sharp focus on health equity and core capabilities.”