Over the past two years, ASPR and NACCHO have been working together to identify and test ways in which local health departments can improve resilience in their communities. In March 2015, three local health departments were selected as test sites for a pilot program designed to test whether “Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships” (MAPP) could be used as a strategy to improve community resilience at the local level.
MAPP is facilitated by public health leaders, and enables communities to use strategic thinking to prioritize public health issues and identify the resources needed to address them. MAPP is not an agency-focused assessment tool; rather, it is an interactive community-driven process that can improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and performance of the local public health system.
MAPP is a community-owned process that involves broad representation of the local public health system, engages the community, and uses qualitative and quantitative data from the four assessments to inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of strategic community health improvement plans.
Defining Community Resilience
This pilot project was based on research outlined by RAND in the technical report, “Building Community Resilience to Disasters”. This report defines community resilience as “the ongoing and developing capacity of the community to account for its vulnerabilities and develop capabilities that aid the community in (1) preventing, withstanding, and mitigating the stress of a health incident; (2) recovering in a way that restores the community to a state of self-sufficiency and at least the same level of health and social functioning after a health incident; and (3) using knowledge from a past response to strengthen the community’s ability to withstand the next health incident.” In this model, community resilience may be improved by addressing the following core components:
- Social and economic well-being of the community,
- Physical and psychological health of populations,
- Effective risk communication for all populations,
- Social connectedness for resource exchange,
- Cohesion, response, and recovery, and
- Integration and involvement of organizations in planning, response, and recovery.
To strengthen these core components, Chandra et al. recommend using levers of action. These levers represent the factors within communities that can be changed to increase community resilience; the levers are actionable pieces that encourage positive change of the core components. Levers of action that support community resilience include wellness, access, education, engagement, self-sufficiency, and partnership.
Measuring MAPP’s Impact on Community Resilience
NACCHO enrolled three local health departments into a pilot program: Green River District Health Department (Owensboro, KY), Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department (Wayne, NE), and Wichita County Public Health District (Wichita Falls, TX). Using hypotheses generated by the RAND Community Resilience Model, they developed and implemented strategies as part of their MAPP process focused on engaging levers of action, thus impacting the core components of community resilience. By viewing their activities in the context of the model, all three pilot sites were able to demonstrate marked improvements in community resilience.
In the face of public health threats that are constantly emerging and evolving, communities need to be more resilient than ever. While MAPP was initially designed as a strategy to improve community health, there is tremendous value in using it to improve community resilience. Finding new ways to use familiar tools is just one way to enable communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters.
Want to learn more about using MAPP to improve community resilience? Attend the “Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP): A Training on How to Improve Community Resilience” workshop at the 2016 Preparedness Summit on Tuesday, April 19th. For more information and to register, visit the Preparedness Summit website.