RAND panel identifies key components of public health emergency preparedness

A panel of experts convened by the RAND Corporation has recommended actions that communities around the United States should take to be better prepared to deal with bioterrorist attacks, pandemic flu outbreak and other large-scale public health emergencies.

The recommendations announced today by RAND, a nonprofit research organization, consist of 16 actions listed under three broad categories. They call for communities to:

  • Have a coordinated rapid-response capability. This should include well-defined roles and responsibilities for officials and the public; a clear command structure; strong public communications; the ability to provide emergency health care to large numbers of people; and the ability to monitor the spread of a public health emergency.

  • Develop and maintain adequate numbers of operations-ready public health workers and volunteers.

  • Engage in a continuous process of testing, improvement and maintenance of systems for tracking and reporting information on readiness to decision-makers and the public.

"The panel's work provides a clear, new definition of public health emergency preparedness and describes the critical ingredients that constitute a prepared community," said Christopher Nelson, lead author of the report that was produced by RAND Health's Center for Domestic and International Health Security. "This will not only help communities and government agencies figure out where the gaps are, but also where future investments should be made."

The panel defined public health emergency prepardness as: "The capability of the public health and health care systems, communities and individuals to prevent, protect against, quickly respond to and recover from health emergencies, particularly those whose scale, timing or unpredictability threatens to overwhelm routine capabilities. Preparedness involves a coordinated and continuous process of planning and impl

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RAND Corporation

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