At NACCHO Annual 2015, Dr. Lisa Kaplowitz from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) announced a new award program recognizing the accomplishments of local health departments related to national health security. The National Health Security Award will recognize departments that have demonstrated significant accomplishments in implementing health security-related initiatives within their jurisdictions.
National health security is a state in which the nation and its people are prepared for, protected from, and resilient in the face of incidents with health consequences. The threats and risks that communities face are diverse—they can be intentional or naturally occurring and can result from both persistent and emerging threats, including severe weather, infectious diseases, hazardous material exposures, and terrorist attacks. The health security of our nation depends on the efforts of all Americans and begins at the community level.
National health security also depends firmly on the ingenuity of individuals and connected, healthy communities. Communities contribute to the nation’s health security by building and leveraging local assets and skills, enhancing and protecting their community’s infrastructure, facilitating citizen engagement, fostering interpersonal connections among community members, and cultivating relationships among local organizations. In addition, many communities have contributed to health security by developing and strengthening relationships with faith-based organizations, academic institutions, and private industry.
Everything local health departments do is meant to improve the health of people in their community, and healthier people are more likely to survive a disaster and bounce back faster. That’s what national health security is all about.
Your department’s day-to-day operations impact national health security across the country. Every time you run a vaccination clinic or spearhead a disease prevention campaign, you improve health security. Every time you track a disease outbreak or connect people with personal health services, like preventive or health promotion services, you give health security a boost. Every time you plan how to coordinate the delivery of drugs, supplies and provisions to disaster survivors and populations at risk or push a colleague to keep his or her knowledge and skills up-to-date, you advance our nation’s health security.
As part of National Preparedness Month, NACCHO and ASPR are encouraging local health departments to share these stories; we want to hear about the projects making a difference at the local level. Local health departments are invited to submit applications for the National Health Security Award Program in the following categories:
- Healthcare Coalition Building: Both medical and non-medical partners are crucial in addressing national health security needs in our communities. How do you engage these partners, and what are you working on as a group?
- Volunteer Recruitment and Training: Volunteers are a critical component to public health preparedness and response. How do you prepare and utilize your volunteers to address national health security-related issues?
- Youth Engagement: Young people can be a great resource for new ideas and energy. How are you involving the young people in your community in national health security-related initiatives?
One winner will be selected from each category, and will be recognized for their invaluable contributions and commitment to national health security at NACCHO Annual 2016. During an award reception, a short video highlighting the accomplishments of award recipients will be screened, followed by a plaque presentation ceremony. Winners will also be featured in the NACCHO Preparedness Brief Blog.
Applications will be accepted from September 1, 2015 until October 30, 2015. LHDs are invited to submit one application per category, but will only be eligible to win one award. Visit www.naccho.org/nhssaward to find more information and apply today!