Robert Fox Interview with Frederick M. Burkle on Population-based Triage Management


Interview: At first sight, Population-based Triage, PBT for short, isn't the most enticing social formula-but it may be the key to how the UK manages the next stages of the current Corona quagmire-and prepare for the next one, when and not if it happens. It could, and probably should, become standard operating procedure in public health population-based management decisions in the outbreak of widespread pestilence and disease. We need that new Public Health Strategy now. Under the PBT plan the population as a whole is treated to the triage technique familiar in accident and emergency, and battlefield medicine. Medical and rescue teams concentrate on treating the salvageable in preference to those most likely to die. "Traditional health care systems care systems care for patients individually, while public health is caring for an entire population," says Professor Frederick Burkle, Senior Scholar and Scientist of Public Health at Harvard. He published his plan for a population-based approach to pandemic in 2006. It was used in the major desk-top exercise by Public Health England for tackling a major influenza pandemic, Operation Cygnus, in 2016. The report partly adopted the professor's clear-eyed approach to running a major pandemic operation, but left many questions open. If they had been addressed in the present Covid crisis, thousands of lives might have bene saved. Much the same goes for Exercise Isis carried out by National Health Scotland in 2018, focused on a major outbreak of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). The lessons of both exercises have been taken aboard, according to Matt Hancock, but as they say in Scots law, it looks like a case of not proven. Both the Cygnus and Isis reports of 2017 and 2018 cannot conceal the serious shortcomings in preparation against a major public health emergency. The Cygnus exercise, for instance concentrates on the role of the Local Resilience Forums in coordinating emergency services-yet the representatives of the eight LRFs were explicit about their lack of resources. The LRFs have proved vital since March, but they have no statutory powers and no funding. More ominously the Isis report for the Scottish Health flags up the lack of availability of protective equipment-PPE-for a nationwide viral outbreak. The problem of managing a workable Public Health Emergency strategy for this coronavirus crisis is brilliantly illustrated BBC1's drama documentary, The Salisbury Poisonings. It tells the real events of the attack by the nerve agent Novichok on the Skripals in Salisbury two years ago. The heroine is the Wiltshire Public Health Officer Tracy.
Last updated on 04/29/2021