In a world of increasingly complex and dangerous threats facing the United States – threats such as emerging infectious diseases, terrorist organizations, state actors, and extreme weather events – the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) stands tall as a robust and reliable federal resource ready to respond. On 1 October 2018, in an effort to better align the stockpile with other federal medical countermeasure response efforts, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shifted oversight and operational control of the SNS from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).
Public health emergencies, including infectious disease and natural disasters, are issues that every community faces. To address these threats, it is critical for all jurisdictions to understand how law can be used to enhance public health preparedness, as well as improve coordination and collaboration across jurisdictions. As sovereign entities, tribal nations have the authority to create their own laws and take the necessary steps to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. Thus, legal preparedness for tribal nations is crucial to public health response.
Nutrition, community resilience, and poverty are just a few factors that are of great importance to public health professionals, which include representatives for maternal and child health, preparedness, nutrition, epidemiology, and land use planning, among others. However, the second largest segment of the public health workforce – the environmental health (EH) profession – bridges the gaps within the public health discipline as well as between public health and other disciplinary sectors.
On 6-8 November 2018, global health leaders from around the globe met in Bali, Indonesia, for the 5th Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Ministerial Meeting. At the meeting, the GHSA launched a five-year plan to address health security issues called GHSA 2024 and U.S. Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan reaffirmed U.S. support for the GHSA with a pledge of $150 million. This global efforts and this commitment of resources to strengthen the capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious diseases are clearly needed.
Food is essential to life. Its production, distribution, and consumption present unique – and increasingly urgent – economic and public health challenges. Roughly 50% of the world’s assets, 50% of global employment, and 50% of consumer expenditures are related to the food system. Closer to home, the second and third largest employers in the United States are in the food industry. About one-third of Americans eat at least one meal away from home each day. Anticipation, evaluation, and control of food-related infections and contamination are essential functions provided by the governmental public health system.
On 6 November 2018, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested the current Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) might not be contained due to lack of cooperation from local communities and an unstable security situation. Assertions such as these have driven the Global Health Security Alliance, an independent network of internationals experts, to distribute a commentary about the “Ebola Outbreak in the DRC.” Driven by the shared understanding that health and security issues have increasing and interrelated global impacts, the Alliance separates facts from hyperboles in this informative document on this international public health threat.
When faced with cases of highly infectious diseases, emergency responders and medical receivers need to know how to protect themselves and prevent the disease from spreading to others. One training facility is focusing on this topic with courses that instruct healthcare workers and other responders about infection-control barrier guidelines and isolation protocols.
Although 2017 was a historic year for natural disasters, 2018 is turning out to be more of the same. Filled with wildfires, tornadoes, floods, tropical systems, and the devastating Hurricanes Florence and Michael, it appears the frequency of natural disasters is increasing. Preparedness professionals face challenges meeting the needs of everyone impacted by such events, especially those with chronic conditions. Fortunately, with pre-disaster planning and post-disaster recovery and evaluation, preparedness professionals can better help the most vulnerable access the resources they need.
Prior to 2013, the active threat plans in Nashua, New Hampshire (NH), consisted of separate responses by law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS). There was no coordinated plan. Involvement with area hospitals was not considered other than receiving patients. The Nashua Police SWAT Team and the Nashua Office of Emergency Management recognized this gap. This case study shares this city’s solution for creating and testing an integrated active threat “one plan” (the integration of several previously existing plans).
On 15 November 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a letter report to the president on “Action Needed to Protect Against Biological Attack.” PCAST urged the president for immediate action to ensure that the nation has the ability to meet these challenges with near-, medium-, and long-term goals. It is critical that the recommendations in this letter are conveyed to the current administration, and not lost in transition.