Within the Public Health Promotion and Protection, Disease Prevention, and Emergency Preparedness goal, changes on population demographics, shifts in burden of disease, uncertainty related to the scope and timing of public health emergencies, and the potential threat of zoonotic diseases will significantly influence the ability of HHS to achieve the objectives related to this goal.
As the Nation’s population ages, a greater proportion of Americans will be older and expected to live longer. These shifts will result in an increased chronic disease burden and a greater need for public health interventions to prevent or control these diseases. HHS will work to mitigate these effects by promoting the translation of the evidence base for health promotion and disease prevention for older adults at the community level. HHS also will continue to develop and implement cost-effective models to support increasingly frail older adults in their homes.
A shifting distribution in disease burden also affects the ability of HHS to achieve its public health objectives. For example, HIV-related disease and affected populations will result in an expansion of the number of HIV-infected individuals who need treatment and related care. Infections in new subpopulations could be difficult to identify, reach, and serve. HHS is developing improved disease surveillance and outreach strategies to identify and reach newly affected populations in the United States. HHS also is providing assistance to service providers in planning and capacity-building efforts to meet these changes.
In the public health emergency preparedness arena, external factors represent both threats and opportunities. First, the unexpected scope of emergencies in terms of probability of occurrence, place, time, and type makes resource allocation and targeting a significant challenge. A hurricane can result in significant public health consequences as Hurricane Katrina did in 2005, or may result in little or no health impact. A bioterrorist attack could be widespread, occur simultaneously in multiple locations, or be limited to one room in one building. HHS is addressing this uncertainty by planning for multiple scenarios in its all-hazards preparedness program. HHS also is providing guidance to help States and localities enhance their capacity to respond to natural or manmade disasters of varying severity and scope. Second, external factors also provide opportunities for shared planning, response, and evaluation. By working with our Federal, State, local, and tribal partners, we can leverage resources and personnel to improve overall level and quality of both preparedness and response.
Emerging pathogens, many of which are zoonotic in origin, also affect emergency preparedness. Because the habitats of animals and people are inextricably linked, there is an increased possibility for exposure to zoonotic diseases. HHS understands this link, and is coordinating strategies to mitigate zoonotic diseases that originate in animals in order to protect both animal and human health. HHS collaborates with other Federal departments and agencies and international organizations that focus on animal health, as well as with State governments and academic institutions, to address zoonotic diseases.
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