The IOM Reports on the Major Issues Facing the Field of Public Health

“There should be a set of services that everyone in the public receives. They should know that their restaurants are safe and their water is safe.”—Janet Collins, PhD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dates of Project: June 2009 through November 2012

Field of Work: Public health

Problem Synopsis: Despite having the costliest health care system in the world, Americans aren’t particularly healthy. And despite evidence that prevention is far more cost-effective than treatment, investment in the system is heavily skewed toward clinical care.

Synopsis of the Work: Seeking to provide policy guidance in key areas of public health, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) formed an 18-member committee to produce reports on major issues in the field.

The Committee on Public Strategies to Improve Health authored reports in the areas of measurement, law and funding.

Key Recommendations

  • Strengthen the mission of the National Center for Health Statistics to let it play a broader role in the public health information system.
  • Adopt a “Health in All Policies” approach that considers the health implications of policies in wider areas including agriculture, land use, and transportation.
  • Establish a minimum package of public health services and tax health care transactions to support the public health system sufficiently to finance it.

“We put the majority of our eggs in the health care delivery basket and very little in the population health and health improvement basket.”—Alina Baciu, PhD, MPH, IOM Project Director