Public health workforce capacities and the challenges for preparedness
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Epidemiology Department, National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA), Lisboa, Portugal
Department of Health Security, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
School of Medicine, University of Galway, Galway, Ireland
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1745
Background and objective:
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the threat posed by communicable disease outbreaks and the importance of the public health workforce in responding to such outbreaks. Therefore, there is a need to identify key skills, competencies and training of relevant personnel, considering also personal impacts of public health emergencies and developing a path to a more resilient public health system response. This study, part of PANDEM2 Project, aims at reviewing methodologies and tools already in use to measure workforce capacity and training needs to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats.

A scoping review was developed, including searching several databases: PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, among others. Documents of grey literature were also included, from several different sources: WHO, CDC, ECDC, among others. Search words included, but not limited to, “pandemic”, “preparedness”, “response”, “workforce” and ”tools”, for articles published in English, between 2008 and 2022.

The review highlights the difficulties in defining the public health workforce and workforce diversity across countries and systems. The review identified tools measuring workforce capacity, as well as gaps and challenges of the public health system response, which was already facing difficulties before the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries do not have a dedicated public health workforce policy or plan.

To strengthen public health and emergency preparedness and response, it is fundamental to define and monitor the public health workforce and its capacity. Several tools were identified, as well as Public Health work force needs and training priorities for response. The information gathered is key for the future steps in classifying the public health workforce, as designed by the roadmaps and other resources presented by ECDC, WHO and other organizations.