Public health is in general terms defined as the health of population, and can encapsulate epidemiology, disease prevention and all aspects of a national health system which support the health of the populations. It can include all components which support the understanding and maintenance health of the population. It includes a broad range of professional specialities.
Until 2020, AUSMAT had engaged in international acute health emergencies in the region. With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the AUSMAT mandate was broadened to assist Australia’s domestic national COVID-19 response. AUSMAT’s public health support in this context is to provide tangible benefits to the health system, and improve the quality of services delivered during and beyond the acute AUSMAT emergency mission.
Health and service data collection and analysis
Rationale of AUSMAT support is:
- To augment local understanding of disease epidemiology and gaps in service provision to address this disease burden.
- To better understand the impact of AUSMAT’s intervention in real time, to provide feedback to the team to the quality of AUSMAT’s intervention.
The goal is to gather data regarding:
- AUSMAT clinical service provision and outcomes.
- Local disease epidemiology.
Local health service provision data (to understand gaps in local service provision with specific reference to those services AUSMAT is seeking to augment)
What AUSMAT support looks like:
- Experts work alongside AUSMAT, to develop relationships with local epi/service data experts +/- can be embedded in local data/epi teams.
- Laboratory reporting systems are also a focus.
The resources required are:
- Epidemiologist, data analysis.
- Consider senior +/- junior (to build AUSMAT capacity over time).
The rationale for AUSMAT supporting laboratory quality is that disease epidemiology understanding and clinical service provision are dependent on quality and accessible laboratory support.
- The goal is to augment local laboratory capacity and expertise.
- AUSMAT brings its own laboratory capacity systems and experts to the field.
- AUSMAT interact with and review local laboratory capacity and data reporting systems.
- Local key experts can be embedded with AUSMAT laboratory services and then the reverse on a rotating basis.
- Resources required:
- Additional AUSMAT laboratory staff (senior +/- junior) who can work in a local capacity building role.
Public health capacity
The rationale to build local public health capacity is that AUSMAT’s intervention should seek to augment those health systems in which it is deployed to provide strategic medium term impact.
- The goal is to bridge the gap between acute emergency intervention and longer term strengthening of the health system to allow greater domestic capacity in managing public health emergencies.
- This is achieved by:
- AUSMAT reviewing relevant national health strategies or action plans and meets with relevant local national taskforce and/or members.
- AUSMAT identifying areas of relevance to the acute AUSMAT mission where AUSMAT’s activities can align or augment national strategies or action plans.
- Through these relationships, during and prior to the end of the mission, AUSMAT public health experts, and in conjunction with WHO provide, feedback to national health taskforces on gaps and areas of need relating to those specific areas of health intervention AUSMAT is acutely supporting.
- The resources required are:
- Public health physician +/- junior (e.g. public health registrar or more recently qualified individual).
- Health systems expert.