Online Program

Complementarity in public health governance

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 1:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Lance Gable, JD, MPH, Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, MI
Benjamin Mason Meier, JD, LLM, PhD, Deparment of Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Redundant systems exist throughout legal systems and permeate public health governance. Whether created intentionally or not, scholars, lawmakers, and policy-makers often consider this redundancy to be a pernicious indicator of inefficiency and waste in public health systems, seeking reforms to minimize or eliminate overlapping institutions. Yet, redundancy has countervailing values that may overcome these concerns. Analyzing the benefits of overlapping networks of governance, this presentation explores the positive aspects of complementarity in public health law as a tool to expand capacity and systemic resiliency; augment innovation in policy and practice; promote accountability and transparency; and foster the development of normative and procedural harmonization and consistency conducive to improving public health. This presentation articulates a positive view of redundancy and develops a detailed analysis of the potential benefits of systemic overlap, grounded in the idea of complementarity in public health law. We describe the prevailing negative assumptions about redundancy, while noting the manner in which complementary laws have nevertheless improved the effectiveness of public health governance in addressing infectious disease, non-communicable disease, and emergency preparedness. We analyze the potentially beneficial roles of complementarity to public health governance, delineating the benefits of complementarity as a basis to assess the tradeoffs between redundancy and complementarity in public health. Based upon this initial assessment of the benefits and drawbacks of overlap in public health law, we urge a reconsideration of the reflexive assumptions against redundancy and conclude that further research is necessary to ascertain when complementary systems allow for improvement in public health governance.

Learning Areas:

Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate some of the important structural features of the public health system as constructed by law and policy. Formulate theories of redundancy and how it affects public health practices and outcomes. Analyze options for using the redundant features of public health systems in positive and complementary ways.

Keyword(s): Law, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in the field of public health law as a professor for many years and have studied and thought about these issues extensively.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.