HHS Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2007–2012 (Strategic Plan). Strategic Objective 2.4: Prepare for and respond to natural and manmade disasters.

11/22/2015

The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006 (PAHPA; Public Law 109-417) codified the HHS Secretary’s role as lead for the Federal public health and medical response to emergencies and incidents covered by the National Response Plan (NRP), and authorizes HHS’s operational control of Federal public health and medical response assets during these events.8 In addition, the development of the Homeland Security Council’s National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza has stressed the importance of preparedness for natural and manmade disasters that have public health impact. Many of the strategies undertaken by HHS to achieve preparedness and response capability are done in concert with or in support of other Federal departments and agencies, State and local governments, and private sector entities. This collaborative approach is vital given that public health emergencies have the potential to affect nearly every sector of society. One of HHS’s largest investments is to develop and stockpile the countermeasures needed to respond to the most serious disasters. Consequently, a performance indicator listed at the end of this chapter assesses the readiness of States to utilize these supplies. A second indicator focuses on the extent to which State emergency management plans cover the broad array of individuals with special needs, specifically measuring plans for those with disabilities.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is the single office responsible for preparedness and response activities within HHS. As the principal advisor to the Secretary on all matters related to public health and medical preparedness and response emergencies, ASPR leads and promotes a collaborative approach with many partners, including ACF, AoA, CDC, CMS, FDA, HRSA, OPHS, and SAMHSA. For additional information on this topic, see In the Spotlight: Emergency Preparedness, Prevention, and Response.

Key strategies that will be used to enhance public health and medical emergency preparedness and response include:

  • Developing the National Health Security Strategy, starting in 2009;
  • Awarding cooperative agreements to States or other eligible entities to conduct the activities of the National Health Security Strategy; and
  • Reintegrating the National Disaster Medical System within HHS.

A major focus of preparedness activities will be the implementation of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and countermeasures development. The international preparedness activities include the International Health Regulations, which will come into force in June 2007. These regulations require members to develop, strengthen, and maintain core surveillance and response capacities to detect, assess, notify, and report public health events to WHO and respond to public health risks and public health emergencies. WHO, in turn, will evaluate members’ public health capacities, promote technical cooperation, offer logistical support, and facilitate the mobilization of financial resources for building capacity in surveillance and response.

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