ASPR Reaches Out to Listen to Public and Private Stakeholders on Strengthening the Nation’s Health Preparedness

More than 100 participants from more than 45 organizations gathered in person or on the phone on January 10 to lend their perspectives on how to improve public health and healthcare preparedness.

The daylong listening session represented the first time the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) has hosted an event on this topic with such crosscutting participation. Sponsored in partnership with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the workshop attracted participants from across public health, healthcare, pharmaceutical, environmental health, and other sectors.

The listening session focused on four priority areas for the new Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec: providing strong leadership; creating a national disaster healthcare system; supporting and sustaining a robust and reliable public health security capacity; and strengthening the nation’s ability to expedite the development of medical countermeasures.

Attendees provided an array of thoughtful feedback. For example, participants saw a need for greater integration of “at-risk populations” into public health preparedness. The Hospital Preparedness Program was highlighted as an essential resource that should be recognized formally as a “healthcare preparedness” program since it no longer focuses solely only on hospital systems. Participants also voiced a desire to include public health agencies and healthcare coalitions in decisions about which medical countermeasures to develop, and better guidance and for stronger preparedness and training standards to build a more robust workforce.

Participants were enthusiastic about the listening session, and ASPR’s commitment to creating an ongoing dialogue.

The session took place in advance of Dr. Kadlec’s testimony to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee during a hearing on “Facing 21st Century Public Health Threats: Our Nation’s Preparedness and Response Capabilities, Part I.”

NACCHO will keep members apprised of future listening sessions, progress in improving preparedness and response capabilities and NACCHO’s related legislative agenda. Visit Preparedness Brief for blog updates on the reauthorization of PAHPA.

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