By: The White House
On April 19, 2022, the White House hosted the Summit on Strengthening the Nation’s Early Warning System for Health Threats in support of the launch of the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (CFA).
The launch of the CFA fulfills requirements in National Security Memorandum-1 (NSM-1), which instructed U.S. leadership to strengthen the international COVID-19 response and advance global health security and biological preparedness. NSM-1 highlighted the need for epidemic forecasting and modeling, and instructed the development of a plan for establishing an interagency National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics. Subsequently, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Security Council (NSC) released the American Pandemic Preparedness Plan in September 2021, which called for transformative capabilities to combat future epidemic and pandemic threats, including strengthening national forecasting capabilities.
The Summit included 30 in-person participants (listed in Appendix A below), representing a wide range of sectors and perspectives, including Federal, State, Tribal, and local governments, as well as health data and technology organizations, non-profits, industry, and international stakeholders. Over 1,600 attendees joined the Summit virtually via livestream. The event agenda is included as Appendix B below.
The event was moderated by Dr. Matthew Hepburn, Senior Advisor to the OSTP Director for Pandemic Prevention, and featured two phases: opening remarks by senior leaders and panel discussions with experts. Dr. Alondra Nelson, Deputy Assistant to the President and performing the duties of Director of OSTP, kicked off the event with opening remarks and discussed the vision of the CFA to serve as a centralized source of health information, similar to the National Weather Service, that can be used by all Americans to inform decision making. Mr. Jake Sullivan, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, highlighted the contribution that the CFA would make to biodefense and health security. Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator and Counselor to the President, highlighted the CFA’s mission to become a trusted center for health data that can be used by leaders to more effectively respond to the current and future pandemic threats. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provided keynote remarks and described the Center’s three major pillars of operation: predict, inform, and innovate. Dr. Walensky said that CFA has an opportunity to coordinate disparate data sources in the United States in an effort to capture the broad and diverse experience of all communities and enable more accurate and timely predictions of future health threats. Speakers all underscored the importance of using CFA capabilities to reduce health inequities.
The remainder of the event featured three panels to provide a wide range of perspectives on data and analytics and their use to inform decision making. The full event recording can be found here.
Panel 1: Next-Generation Public Health Data and Analytics
Moderator: Dr. Caitlin Rivers, Associate Director, Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The goal of the panel was to: 1) frame the importance of establishing a national, trusted resource for early warning; 2) highlight the current and future state of public health data and predictive analytics; and 3) discuss how the CFA will be working with the stakeholder community to improve the quality of the data and analytics moving forward.
Key themes from first panel discussion include:
Panel 2: Enabling Local Governments
Moderator: Dr. Seema Yasmin, Director of Research and Education at the Stanford Health Communication Initiative, Stanford University
The goal of the panel was to emphasize: 1) the importance of better information in improving the decisions of communities; and 2) the role that key institutions such as government, departments of health, and major healthcare systems have and should play in engaging broad constituents outside of the health care system.
Key themes from second panel discussion include:
Panel 3: Strengthening the System for Patient
Moderator: Dr. Freda Lewis Hall, Senior Advisor, Black Coalition Against COVID
The goal of the panel was to highlight the opportunity for CFA to develop strong relationships with all aspects of the healthcare system. The CFA will play a critical role in ensuring that healthcare decision makers are provided timely and relevant information that improves their decision making and ensures that they are well prepared to act in future pandemics on behalf of the communities they serve.
Key themes from the third panel discussion include:
Closing remarks were provided by Dr. Sandi Ford, Special Assistant to the President for Public Health & Science, Domestic Policy Council, on how the CFA will build upon lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and create a single, trusted source of health information during a public health event. Dr. Ford also highlighted the need for global cooperation and partnerships with stakeholders and the public to rapidly detect and respond to public health events.
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