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Using Simple Management Science and Operations Research Tools and Thinking to Make Changes in Public Health

November 21, 2019, 11:30 AM - 11:45 AM


The Heldrich Hotel & Conference Center

10 Livingston Avenue

New Brunswick, NJ 08901


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Michael Washington, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Too often, critical data are overlooked in the policy development process, and potentially compelling insights are missed that could drive new policies and programs. In addition, most public health analyses stop at suggesting solutions without providing an epidemiological or economic impact of their recommendations, and results and recommendations are not presented to decision-makers in an easily understandable format. This is especially true in low/middle-income countries (LMICs), and it is partially due to a shortage of skills to perform such analyses and present results. In 2015, the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative started providing technical assistance in 20 LMICs to build their capacity to collect and analyze scientific data to guide and support health policy development and health program decision-making (https://www.bloomberg.org/program/public-health/data-health/). The Data to Policy (D2P) program comprises one component of this initiative, led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York-based nonprofit Vital Strategies. D2P trains Ministries of Health (MOHs) staff to use operations research and management science tools and thinking to analyze data to advance policy agendas and support specific policy priorities identified by governments through the development of data-driven policy briefs. Policy forums are held where briefs are presented to government officials and stakeholders so that discussions can start on addressing the public health issues. The final part of D2P is to make this training sustainable, where we teach MOHs staff to teach others, and thus build capacity. D2P has impacted twelve countries: Myanmar, Peru, Philippines, Solomon Island, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Zambia, China, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Colombia, and Ghana. Of the 88 briefs generated by these countries, about 90% have been presented to decision makers, and 55% of them have had some influence in policy decisions. And four countries now have the capacity to teach D2P (Zambia, China, Colombia, and Myanmar).

Speaker Bio: Michael Washington is a Health Scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he develops policy-based, quantitative models and analyses for use by Federal, State, and local public health authorities to advance the public health mission of the CDC. ​He is also building ministries of health capacities in many countries to create such models and do similar analyses.  Washington connected with DIMACS though the special focus on Mathematical and Computational Epidemiology and was heavily involved in DIMACS initiatives in Africa that brought U.S. and African researchers together to study a variety of issues related to epidemiology and health in Africa and around the world.