CDC director calls for data-based, prevention-focused community health care during a talk at Johns Hopkins

Title: Shifting Focus from Sick Care to Prevention: Data-Driven Approach Critical for U.S. Health, Says CDC Mandy Cohen

In the latest installment of the Johns Hopkins Health Policy Forum, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Mandy Cohen spoke about the importance of data in the health sector, emphasizing the need to focus more on prevention rather than sick care. The event, held at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Center in Washington, D.C., on June 26, 2024, was attended by over 100 students, faculty, staff, and members of the public, as well as close to 200 remote participants.

Mandy Cohen, a former secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, highlighted three current focus areas of the CDC:

1. Readying the response to health threats that range from avian flu virus to extreme heat and gun violence by building core capabilities in a disease-agnostic manner.
2. Strengthening mental health services to address strains during emergencies such as hurricanes or pandemics and addressing the increasing number of substance-related deaths and suicides.
3. Supporting young families by addressing the upstream causes of chronic diseases and recognizing that life-long health patterns are largely determined in the first few years of life.

Cohen also discussed ongoing CDC initiatives related to social determinants of health and innovation in Medicaid programs. Sarah Szanton, Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, highlighted Neighborhood Nursing, a Baltimore-based pilot program that aims to turn primary care on its head by having nurses and health workers meet with individuals in various community settings to learn about and support their health needs.

To address the opioid overdose issue in Baltimore, the CDC is working on an overdose data action platform that provides real-time data on overdoses and identifies harmful substances in communities. This platform also enables communities to determine what works and what doesn’t in preventing overdoses, such as the importance of fentanyl test strips, Narcan, and recovery care in emergency rooms.

The Health Policy Forum series, launched in 2020, is a collaboration between the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Carey Business School, the School of Nursing, and Johns Hopkins Medicine, aiming to highlight Johns Hopkins’ engagement with key health policy leaders.

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