A capable public health workforce is essential to achieving a systems-based approach to vision and eye health. In order to offer needed eye care to individuals and populations, the necessary eye care providers and ancillary staffing must be in the right places and willing to see those who need care. Currently, broad concerns remain about the distribution of providers and the willingness of providers to participate with private or public insurers that provide insufficient reimbursement. Without addressing new and emerging challenges to the public health workforce such as an obsolete national public health infrastructure, security threats, and declining public trust, the public health workforce will continue its decline and bring vision and eye health goals with it.
In the vision and eye health community, eye care provider distribution and lack of availability enhances concerns that staying ahead of trends such as aging and eye disease from chronic conditions will go unchecked. The challenge and opportunity for the vision and eye health community in succeeding in goals to integrate eye care providers into the National Health Service Corps (which currently does not include eye care practitioners such as optometrists, general practice ophthalmologists, or other primary eye care providers) is to promote the benefits of a systems-level approach to care and integrating vision and eye health into current and existing disease prevention and health promotion interventions.
In addition, public health officials and lawmakers are increasingly realizing that our national public health data and infrastructure is woefully inadequate to stay ahead of and respond to emergency outbreaks, public health emergencies, and effectively manage chronic disease efforts. Vision and eye health are not immune from inadequacies and inefficiencies in our national public health system and, in many cases, remains disadvantaged by outdated public health data processes and infrastructure.
- Public Health Workforce Coalition Fact Sheet, National Association of City and County Health Officials
- Public Health Data Modernization Initiative – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Data: Elemental to Health Campaign, Council on State and Territorial Epidemiologists
- Data: Elemental to Health Fact Sheet, Council on State and Territorial Epidemiologists