A CDC survey found that public officials in the US say they still have too few epidemiologists.

Although the number of epidemiologists in state health departments increased sharply during the pandemic, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday that states still lack many of the public health forces officials say they need.

The report, based on a survey from early 2021 of state epidemiologists from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, further reinforced concerns that Public health workers across the country are less equipped response to the current pandemic compared to early 2020.

Even as the state’s number of epidemiologists grows, particularly in areas like the Covid-19 response, the CDC said, staffing general infectious diseases, chronic diseases and maternal and child health also declined. Epidemiologists are responsible for monitoring disease, developing responses, investigating health threats, and researching public health and healthcare services.

And although the number of state epidemiologists grew 23% from 2017 to 2021, to a total of 4,136 positions, fewer states said in 2021 that they have the resources to do adequate surveillance. population health problems and the investigation and diagnosis of hazards that may affect the population.

Survey results show they need another 2,196 epidemiologists to provide basic public health services.

The CDC report said: “The response to Covid-19 has put a strain on the US public health system. “The need for workforce and capacity remains unmet.”

The CDC says the federal government has poured money into public health responses during the pandemic, including $7.66 billion from the US Rescue Plan Act in 2021. No clearly show how public health needs or state staffing levels have changed since the survey was conducted in 2021.

The CDC warns that public health needs predictable funding levels over the longer term.

Public health was often underfunded and overlooked even before the pandemic. The combination of unpredictable funding, reduced authority to impose health orders, and staffing problems have made the job of local and state public health departments more difficult.

The CDC reports that funding for epidemiology is fragile. In 2021, epidemiological operations rely on federal money for 85% of their budgets, but states aren’t sure how long that will last: 39% of federal funds are designated for operations. of Covid-19 for limited periods of time.

The CDC report only tracked epidemiological positions within state health departments and not in other state agencies.

Among the areas the states report as having the shortest employees are genetics, mental health, oral health and occupational health.

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