Letter of Introduction

Strengthening New York's Public Health System for the 21st Century

Public Health Council

November 2003

Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H.
Commissioner of Health
New York State Department of Health
Corning Tower Building
Albany, NY 12237

Dear Dr. Novello:

On behalf of the Public Health Infrastructure Work Group, I am pleased to submit our assessment of the public health infrastructure in New York State: Strengthening New York's Public Health System for the 21st Century. The Public Health Council unanimously adopted the report at its November 14, 2003 meeting.

The primary goal of this Work Group of the New York State Public Health Council was to evaluate the needs of New York State's public health system at the county and state levels and make recommendations for strengthening the system. For purposes of our review, we accepted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definitions for infrastructure comprising three components: workforce, organizational systems and relationships and data and information systems.

We began our work in February of 2002 and enjoyed the full support and assistance of the many leaders and experts who work so faithfully in the public health system throughout the State and nationally. In particular, we would commend the cooperation and participation of many state and county professionals engaged in public health services and programs. Their leadership and contributions proved invaluable to our better understanding of the challenges currently facing public health. In addition, the activities of the Work Group would not have been successful without the support and dedication of the State Health Department staff and consultant.

Our findings underscore the need for public health to be considered in a dynamic context given the many changes occurring in the world today. Moreover, our recommendations presume an essential investment through funding that is flexible and sustainable. Failure to address the gaps in the public health infrastructure to meet new needs will put communities at greater risk in a world where risks have already risen to new levels.

It has been a privilege for the Work Group to undertake this important study. The Work Group stands ready to assist the Public Health Council and the Department of Health to maintain and improve New York's Public Health Infrastructure.

Sincerely yours,

Joan Ellison

Joan H. Ellison, R.N., M.P.H. Chairperson, Public Health Infrastructure Work Group Member, NYS Public Health Council