NACCHO Preparedness Brief: Year in Review

2014_yearHappy holidays and happy new year to all of our members and readers!

NACCHO’s preparedness staff would like to take a few moments to reflect upon the past year and the issues of greatest importance to our readership. As we look back at the top ten most popular featured articles, some strong themes emerge regarding local public health preparedness priorities and challenges:

Infectious Disease and Global Health Security

The emergence of numerous novel infectious disease threats this year highlights the importance of core public health functions such as epidemiological surveillance and investigation and risk communication. While some of these threats are domestic in origin, such as Enterovirus D-68, many of the more serious ones, such as Ebola and Chikungunya, originated outside of U.S. borders. These events are a stark reminder that local public health is a critical part of the global health security framework. In our interconnected, globalized age, we must be prepared for threats on the other side of the world to appear on our doorsteps without warning.

Related articles:

Response to Natural and Man-Made Disasters

Local health departments continue to serve as critical response partners when natural and manmade disasters occur in their jurisdictions. While each emergency situation is unique, the local public health preparedness community recognizes the value in sharing their stories and experiences with each other. Disasters are never welcome, but they do provide a crucial opportunity for all to examine their plans, procedures, responsibilities, and relationships to learn from the experiences of their peers.

Related articles:

Funding Challenges

Significant funding cuts since 2010 have posed serious challenges for local health departments as they strive to maintain their preparedness capabilities and meet the response needs of their communities. While data from NACCHO’s 2013 National Profile of Local Health Departments shows that cuts to preparedness staff have slowed, funding cuts seriously threaten other aspects of preparedness, including training, exercising, maintaining equipment, conducting community outreach, and collaborating with response partners. By failing to fund preparedness in a continuous and sufficient manner, we threaten the ability of local health departments and their partners to effectively protect their communities when disaster inevitably strikes.

Related articles:

Community Preparedness and Engagement

Local health departments and their response partners continue striving for whole community engagement in public health preparedness planning, including vulnerable and stigmatized populations. They continue to explore novel and targeted risk communication methods to better reach all corners of the community, including new mobile technologies. Local health departments also recognize that motivated and engaged community members are assets in themselves, and have much to contribute to local preparedness efforts. The Medical Reserve Corps program provides one such opportunity to leverage the skills and knowledge of the local community in service of public health.

Related Articles:

Overall, it is clear that while 2014 posed some unanticipated and unprecedented challenges, local health departments continue to find new, improved, and innovative ways to protect the health and safety of their communities.

As we at NACCHO strive for continuous improvement to the Preparedness Brief blog in 2015, we hope you will take 5 minutes to take a brief readership survey, to help us keep this blog useful and relevant to you.

Best wishes for a safe and healthy new year!

–The NACCHO Preparedness Team

About Rachel Schulman

Rachel Schulman is a Senior Program Analyst for Public Health Preparedness at NACCHO. Her work includes enhancing and recognizing local public health preparedness planning efforts through Project Public Health Ready and building collaborations between public health and emergency management. Twitter: @rms_ph

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