Under CAP’s Public Health Response Plan the assistant secretary for health shall ensure that current federal, state, and local health monitoring, surveillance, and reporting systems are assessed for effectiveness and robustness, and then make the recommendations necessary to have them brought up to the standards needed to ensure the protection of public health. It is also crucial that the system established has the ability to recognize excess morbidity and mortality in the population or populations being studied and correctly identify the cause.
Long-term monitoring will require carefully analyzing data collected from multiple sources. The federal and state health agencies and other federal agencies that monitor and collect health-related data should agree to a minimum set of standards for this data to facilitate its transfer and utilization. Health data collected must have the ability to be compared across agencies and not wait for an emergency to begin this process. And as electronic systems are developed, the ability to move data between federal data systems must be incorporated into all system design.
When current authorities and roles make it difficult for individual agencies to share information or to acquire health-related data from businesses, manufacturers, polluters, and others in a timely fashion, these limitations should be identified, addressed, and clarified through regulations, legislative action, and, if necessary, legal clarifications.
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