Weaknesses of public health France underlined by Court of Auditors

Obsolescence and risk of failure of information systems, missions to be clarified: the institution of rue Cambon has looked at the functioning of the National Public Health Agency, highlighted by the COVIR epidemic -19.

by Florence Rosier

Public health France. Throughout the waves of COVID-19, this name has become familiar to the French, just like the acronym with three letters, SPF, which designates the National Public Health Agency. His epidemiological points have indeed punctuated the weeks. Made less known, it also contributed to the development of vaccine strategies, for example by participating in the supply of doses.

SPF’s missions go far beyond these actions. The agency was born in May 2016 from the merger of four public organizations: the Institute for Health Surveillance, the National Institute for Prevention and Education for Health, the establishment of preparation and response to health emergencies and the Public interest group addiction addictions alcohol info service (Adalis). The goal? Improve the efficiency of public policies by bringing together skills in four areas: monitoring of the health state of health, the day before on health risks, health prevention and education, preparation and response to emergencies and sanitary crises.

To what extent did this agency be able to fulfill its mandate? The Court of Auditors published, Monday, December 12, a critical report on the subject, hence it appears that if SPF was “an essential actor in the fight against the pandemic of Covid-19”, its management and its positioning present weaknesses.

One of the protruding points concerns health information systems, these large databases which allow monitoring of the health status of populations. Tuberculosis and HIV, other infections and other diseases, COVVI-19 screening and vaccination, emergencies, deaths: at each health area, or almost, its data system. From 2016 to 2019, SPF undertook “long internal reorganizations” and “a rapprochement of the computer systems” from the four agencies which gave birth to it, notes financial jurisdiction.

modernization of information systems

“The expected synergies had not yet borne all their fruits” when the covid pandemic appeared in early 2020. The crisis, in fact, “highlighted the weaknesses of these surveillance devices”, to which “It was at least partly remedied” with the implementation of two tools: information systems on SI-DEP screening and on vaccination VAC-SI.

Distrier, SPF information systems “present in 2022 obsolescence situations”, notes the court. In addition, for lack of dedicated means and/or skills, SPF had to resort to “increasing outsourcing of computer services”. Result,

They are exposed to “risks of unavailability and malicious exploitation of safety faults”, in particular. The modernization of these information systems today represents “a major challenge” for the agency. “We still regret that a dashboard like Covid Tracker did not come from SPF but from an external initiative, regrets Mircea Sofonea, epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier. A public agency must however be to be the reference. “

You have 51.94% of this article to read. The continuation is reserved for subscribers.

/Media reports cited above.