Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, MD, MPA (ret), former US Assistant Surgeon General, is the Senior Medical Advisor at amfAR, a Senior Fellow in Health Policy at New America, Clinical Professor at Tufts and Georgetown University Schools of Medicine, and a Visiting Professor at the MIT Media Lab. Rebekah Gee, MD, MPH is CEO of Healthcare Services for Louisiana State University and a member of the National Academy of Medicine. She formerly served as Louisiana's Secretary of Health where she led the state's Medicaid expansion. The views expressed in this commentary belong to the authors. View more opinion at CNN.
The guiding principle of a Public Health New Deal is that it must be an all of government approach that is comprehensive and integrated across federal, state and local agencies with an emphasis on prevention and preparedness as well as addressing the many social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to health. That's because America's health crisis does not have a single cause nor is there a silver bullet solution.
The Covid-19 pandemic provides us with a historic opportunity to implement a Public Health New Deal that addresses these drivers of health and modernizes essential components of America's public health infrastructure to enhance disease surveillance, data collection, testing, health communications and equal access to medical care and preventive services, including vaccines.
To advance health, we must adopt a holistic approach promoting policies that address the socioeconomic and environmental factors that contribute to health. America leads the world in technology innovation and now our ingenuity must be applied to reengineering our public health system.
A Public Health New Deal must also address the basic needs of all Americans such as economic security, educational opportunity, affordable housing, community safety, healthy food, and access to health care in order to successfully promote health. Combatting the climate crisis with initiatives such as the Green New Deal will also be critical to improving public health.
In this extraordinary, challenging time, collaboration and innovation in an all of government response, coordinating federal, state and local agencies with the private sector is needed to rebuild America's public health system. Investments in public health must be large and sustained.
A Public Health New Deal can move us towards a healthier future for all Americans in the 21st century and build the bedrock for a more effective, resilient, and equitable health care system in the years ahead.