Preparing for Preparedness

Over the last decade the nation has made a substantial investment in preparedness and response across all sectors. The 2009 National Health Security Strategy (NHSS) works to “refocus the patchwork of disparate public health and medical preparedness, response, and recovery strategies in order to ensure that the nation is prepared for, protected from, and resilient in the face of health threats or incidents with potentially negative health consequences.” In short, it provides a common vision for how the nation will achieve national health security.

According to Mike McHargue, Director of Public Health & Medical Planning and Response at the Bureau of Preparedness and Response in Florida, the future of preparedness comes in the form of two questions: How do we measure preparedness? and How prepared are we?

Photo Credit: Robert Pierce

“The answers have sometimes been difficult to quantify,” he admits, despite the fact that public health practitioners continue to demonstrate improvements in many areas. In efforts to support public health preparedness, public health professionals examine current capability and capability gaps and explore how we can best close existing gaps to achieve the desired level of capability.

“First, building strong public health systems in local communities is key!” McHargue emphasizes. Community preparedness is one of the goals (Goal 6 – Objective 6.3) of Florida’s Public Health and Healthcare Preparedness Strategic Plan (2012-2014). Building partnerships with state and local emergency management, state and local governmental non-emergency services agencies, community-based organizations, governmental and non-governmental entities serving vulnerable populations, and other NGOs can strengthen the structures and processes for collaboration between governmental and nongovernmental resources at all levels.

Florida’s Public Health and Healthcare Preparedness Strategic Plan aligns with the National Health Security Strategy (NHHS). Florida is also implementing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Preparedness Capabilities in their state and local planning. “The summary of these initiatives provides for the development and continuation of essential public heath services is communities throughout Florida,” says McHargue.

Click here to learn more about Florida’s Bureau of Preparedness and Response.

If any OMP participant has questions or other suggestions, post them in the comments sections under this post (online) or email the program coordinator OMP@health.usf.edu.

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