Epidemiology may be defined as the study of the distribution and determining factors of health allied proceedings in certain populations, and applying this knowledge to control public health problems (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). The principles and methods in epidemiology have emerged out of deep scrutiny, mental mapping, analytical reasoning to find the exact causes of the disease, and to seek the unknown (Brody et al., 2000). Evidence based public health is the method of integrating scientific interventions with societal preferences to advance societal health. This essay aims to discuss tools to support evidence-based public health policy and decision making, challenges encountered in using science based evidences in policy making and evaluation of health policies for proper effectiveness with specific examples and cases.
Tools to support evidence based public health policy and decision making
Fielding and Briss in 2006 reported about the three types of tools being used to support evidence-based health policies. They are- Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to evaluate the health burden and requisites to improve health. It needs a collaborative data sets analysis, and funds to seek appropriate information and potential associates. The second is orderly review of all important information on an issue, assessing their quality and qualifying their results. Cochrane and Campbell collaborations are two examples of systematic reviews within the public health community. The Third one is a selection of tools to review social fit and viability, which includes participatory exploration, compilation and coverage of qualitative information, financial evaluations of public health measures, decision analytics and other modeling approach (HealthAffairs, 2011). Policy making need to use the above mentioned science based tools for a better health monitoring.
The possible tools not mentioned are disease surveillance used by Alexander Langmuir in 1963, to prepare weekly and if possible, daily reports of the incidence of diseases. He had also used a tool for bioterrorism called epidemic intelligence service (American Journal of Epidemiology, 2011). There was introduction of morbidity and mortality weekly reports at CDC to keep track of casualties in emergencies (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). The challenges for using evidence-based approach are adequate funding to meet all the requirements, and interactions between policymakers and researchers to fill the top-priority gaps and enhance research effectiveness. The scientific evidence-based method has been successful in contributing to reduction of alcohol abuse related road accidents, control of tobacco and drug abuse, early childhood learning programmes, and in need of having additional research to provide a solid evidence for a proper framework of policy and decision making. The method needs additional research support in cases like complex emergencies such as viral and bacterial epidemics which are accelerated by natural calamities like earthquakes, rainfall etc. The satellite images and data obtained in combination with the ground research may provide a vital clue for the pathogen spotting and its control mechanics. The Influenza, SARS, H5N1 epidemics can be controlled using a more combinatorial science-based approach (Walden Welcome, 2011).
The public health policy and decision making thus depend on sufficient investment for research, sustained partnerships among key people, and undoubtedly the evidence-based approach is far more effective in epidemic control and improving healthcare. No evidence based tool can itself be used in decision process as high quality data is unavailable. The best available evidence may then help in making good choices.
American Journal of Epidemiology. (2011, December 29). Principles and Practices of Public Health Surveillance, Second Edition. Web.
Brody, H. et al. (2000). Map-making and Myth-Making in Broad Street: the London Cholera epidemic, 1854. Lancet, 356(9223), 64-68. Web.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Epidemiology and Public Health at CDC. Web.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Web.
HealthAffairs. (2011). Promoting Evidence-based Public Health Policy: Can We Have Better Evidence And More Action? Web.
Walden Welcome. (2011). Influenza Outbreak: Middletown, U.S.A. Web.