Public Health Leadership and Crisis Management

Essay, 2019

9 Pages, Grade: Pass

Hans van´t Cris (Author)


Table of Content


Key challenges to provide leadership during public health emergencies, and crises

The difference between an expected and an unexpected crisis

Potential solutions to the challenges



Crises play an increasing role in our globalized world.

Figure 1 shows the increasing number of natural disasters within the last 118 years (Ritchie & Roser, 2018). The climate change has a very big influence on that increase and is one of the major problems, that humankind must face in todays public health and crisis science. It has not only an influence on the climate system and the economics, but also a big influence on the healthcare systems (Lehmkuhl, 2019), which is often underestimated or ignored.

However, data collection can be difficult in crises situations. They often occur unexpected and unpredictable. Today, the social media can help to improve the data collection and the communication in crises affected areas. They allow people, who are not able to evacuate, to communicate with the world and send information about the disaster (Spence, Lachlan, & Rainear, 2016).

Due to that development, the management of disasters is a key element for a successful public health program and the education of new and well-organized Public Health leaders is very important. But during the crisis management, public health leaders and crisis managers have to face a lot of different problems and challenges. They must be able to act fast and considered in a lot of different situations.

Key challenges to provide leadership during public health emergencies, and crises

Leaders and managers face a lot of problems and challenges during a crisis. However, those challenges are depending on the type of crisis. A natural disaster has different problems to deal with than a terrorist attack or a disease outbreak.

First of all, it has to be declared what a crisis or a public health emergency is. It can be challenging to decide, if a health situation is a public health emergency or not. It is a very important step to identify the crisis correctly, because a wrongly described problem could lead to a waste of resources, money and time and could endanger the patients and affected people (Callahan, 1994).

The Ebola outbreak in Africa in 2014 is a good example. The outbreak was declared as a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) after 33 weeks. The main factors to that declaration was based on the continuing transmission of the virus, as well in health facilities as in the west African communities, the high case fatality rate the Ebola fever and the weak health systems and services in the outbreak region (Briand et al., 2014).

The management of a crisis is a challenge as well. There are a lot of different factors, which influence the right management and the right actions. The type of a crisis is one of the most important factors. A natural disaster or a disease outbreak needs a different management than a terrorist attack. And unexpected crises are much more challenging than expected ones.

Another important factor is the location. A hypothetical disease outbreak in Australia has different challenges than an outbreak in a rural region in Africa. The managing in Australia should be easier, because Australia has a better infrastructure and a better organised health system than poor regions in Africa. The Ebola outbreak was defined as a public health emergency due to the weak health system.

Education is also a very important factor. During the Ebola outbreak in Africa, one big problem was the superstition of the population. The citizens of different villages attacked the health care professionals, due to misunderstanding and a wrong perception ("Ebola: One year on from Democratic Republic Congo outbreak," 2019).

But those educational problems are not only problems of poor developed countries. One of the most popular problems are people, who do not believe in vaccinations, so called anti-vaxxers. The number of anti-vaxxers is increasing. The problem is so acute, that the WHO declared the vaccine hesitancy as one of the ten global health threats in 2019, next to weak health systems, Ebola and Dengue ("Ten threats to global health in 2019," 2019). In the USA, the year with the most recorded measle cases is already 2019 (Quinn, Jamison, & Freimuth, 2019). Other countries like Germany and Australia face the same problem. The anti-vaxxer movement is a very good example, how educational problems can affect public health actions in rich countries as well.

Another challenge for public health managers is their management. Public health leaders must find the right connection between typical manager characteristics and scientific evidences. They must be able to transmit scientific decisions to a political level and ensure, that the right scientific decisions happen (Shickle et al., 2014).


Excerpt out of 9 pages


Public Health Leadership and Crisis Management
James Cook University
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ISBN (Book)
Public Health, Crisis Management, Public Health Leadership
Quote paper
Hans van´t Cris (Author), 2019, Public Health Leadership and Crisis Management, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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