Report Back: What Makes the Public Health System Resilient?

November 10, 2020 by School of Cities Staff

There is limited evidence from Canada to inform practice in health system emergency management, and there were several gaps in understanding public-health preparedness. As public health is often at the forefront of responding to emergencies and disasters, the degree of preparedness in the public health system can be a major determinant of the effectiveness of the response that minimizes the impact on health. Dr. Yasmin Khan, Emergency Preparedness Physician, Health Protection, Public Health Ontario, discusses the journey to create an empirically-derived and theoretically-informed framework that uses the tenets of complexity to support building resilience and public health emergency preparedness. Dr. Khan’s research indicates that governance and leadership can support resilience in the public health system. In addition, Dr. Khan stressed the importance of explicitly centring ethics and values in emergency planning, as ad-hoc decisions during evolving emergencies may increase the risk or some populations and reduce trust in the emergency management system. Dr. Khan concluded by outlining indicators for each of the tenets from the framework, such as community engagement as contingent on the continuous development of relationships, partnerships, and strong networks within the community.