ARCHIVED - The Public Health Agency of Canada – Strategic Plan: 2007 – 2012, Information, Knowledge, Action


Five-Year Priorities for Action

Strategic Objective 2:
Ensure actions are supported by
integrated information and
knowledge functions

Aligning Programs and Research to Support Priorities

Effective and timely surveillance is critical to the ability of the government and provinces/territories to accurately track, plan for and respond to diseases. As such, it is a core competency of PHAC and requires strong partnerships with provincial and territorial governments, and other organizations such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canada Health Infoway Inc. A successful surveillance system requires a combination of robust and flexible systems with people who know how to use them; data collection, sharing and management across jurisdictions and settings; expert analysis and interpretation; and communication with public health partners. It is essential in planning, implementing and evaluating public health interventions, supporting the Minister of Health by informing action on ministerial and federal priorities, and often serves as an early warning of potential issues of importance to public health. PHAC has a number of strong surveillance systems capturing important information on public health. However, an overall surveillance strategy is needed to provide the basis for an integrated approach to information, knowledge and action in PHAC and to support action at the provincial/territorial level. The Agency will streamline its surveillance into a coherent and integrated national surveillance system, positioning surveillance as a strategic resource for the Agency – one that all key stakeholders can maximize to its full potential. The end result will be a responsive system that provides added value, employs cutting-edge technology and provides timely and accurate information to policy-makers, clinicians and laboratories.

Further to the PHAC Act, the Agency will develop its information regulations and related systems, permitting it to better collect, use and disclose public health information, protect personal information, and enhance relationships with provinces and territories around information sharing. These regulations will be critical to our ability to conduct effective surveillance and population health assessment to inform programming and policy decisions.

Closely tied to surveillance and information collection, science and research are important strategic resources for the Agency. Over the next five years, PHAC will focus on further developing its strong science and research capacity and ensuring that it is responsive to the priorities of the Agency. In this way, Agency science and research will provide the much-needed evidence to support decision-making concerning programming and policies. Unique science capacities and high-containment/lab biosafety expertise will be leveraged to strengthen the Agency’s credibility and reputation. A special focus will be placed on technology and development innovation, immunotherapy and biotechnology. Above all, PHAC will maintain a standard of scientific and research excellence, ensuring that its work stands up to expert review and meets or exceeds international standards.

Streamlined surveillance, supported by information regulations and aligned science and research will provide a strong foundation for a focus on knowledge translation and partnerships. PHAC will strengthen its internal capacity to enhance knowledge access, appraisal, sharing and application across programs. A more effective knowledge translation function in the Agency will support evidence-based actions on public health. However, this work will also necessitate key strategic partnerships with organizations such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Collaborating Centres for Public Health, building on existing strengths and facilitating the sharing of knowledge that can be put into practice at all levels of the public health system across Canada.

Theresa Tam
Dr. Theresa Tam is both a pediatric infectious disease specialist and field epidemiologist with a primary interest in vaccinology and respiratory infections. She has spent most of her career working in the area of national and international public health.

Building on the partnerships that will be enhanced with regard to knowledge translation, the Agency will launch a broader strategic approach to stakeholder relations management. The approach will involve strengthening the Agency’s relationships with partners, resulting in better engagement in coordinated efforts to advance shared public health objectives on common priorities.

Our approach to enhancing stakeholder relations will also apply to the development of an International Policy Framework. The Agency will work with other federal departments and international organizations to develop a strategic and coherent approach to the development and implementation of its international policies and activities related to public health, with distinct priorities, measurable objectives, and clear roles and responsibilities. Although the framework will provide a tool for planning and advancing PHAC’s international activities, it will be closely linked to domestic and Agency priorities.

The success of our efforts to align our integrated information and knowledge functions will be demonstrated in our reporting on results and performance to Canadians. To improve public reporting on results and performance, PHAC must strengthen its evaluation, in the broadest sense, and embed it into the Agency’s decision-making processes. Evaluations must be tailored to focus on health outcomes and direct impacts on Canadians. Information on results will be translated into knowledge (e.g., best practices), disseminated to stakeholders and used to make decisions and influence policies and programming. Public reporting will be balanced, transparent and easy to understand.

Margaret Gillis, Director of PHAC's Division of Aging and Seniors, was invited to Windsor Castle to accept an award from Her Majesty the Queen.
Margaret Gillis, Director of PHAC's Division of Aging and Seniors, was invited to Windsor Castle to accept an award from Her Majesty the Queen. The award was given in recognition of the leadership the Agency has provided domestically and internationally to increase the focus on the importance of emergency preparedness for seniors.

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