Bloomberg School of Public Health Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie has been appointed to the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a National Public Health System a new, nonpartisan commission that will identify key steps for strengthening U.S. public health infrastructure at the federal, state, and local levels.
MacKenzie is one of seven commissioners who are nationally recognized for their thought leadership and experience in public health but who do not currently serve in government positions. Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement Joshua Sharfstein, will be a member of the team running the commission.
Commissioners and staff will review evidence and reports from the COVID-19 pandemic response, engage with experts and public health leaders, and develop a report for release later this spring with specific policy recommendations for all levels of government.
"The national response to the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed profound weaknesses and disorganization in the U.S. public health system," said David Blumenthal, Commonwealth Fund president. "The commission has the opportunity to take lessons learned from the highly decentralized approach to public health that hampered the response to the pandemic and articulate a vision that supports health and equity—improving health every day and enhancing preparedness for future crises."
The nonpartisan commission will be chaired by Margaret Hamburg, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, former assistant secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation, and former commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene for New York City. Hamburg also serves on the board of the Commonwealth Fund and as Interim Vice President for Global Biological Policy and Programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
"Our goal is to guide policymakers toward a stronger, more effective public health system in the U.S.," Hamburg said. "At stake is the nation's success in preventing illness and saving lives, in the face of both present and future challenges."
MacKenzie's fellow commissioners are Mandy Cohen, former secretary, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services; Karen DeSalvo, chief health officer, Google; Joneigh Khaldun, vice president and chief equity officer, CVS Health; David Lakey, vice chancellor for Health Affairs and chief medical officer at the University of Texas System, and professor of Medicine at the University of Texas at Tyler Health Science Center; Herminia Palacio, president and CEO, Guttmacher Institute; and Nirav Shah, senior scholar, Department of Medicine, Stanford University.
Sharfstein will serve on the project team alongside Jeffrey Levi, professor of Health Management and Policy at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University; Nicole Lurie, former assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Anne Morris Reid, former deputy chief of staff, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.