On Public Health Security - March 2015

The Importance of Evaluating Preparedness and Response

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On Public Health Security
March 2015
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Stephen C. Redd

Dear Partners,

One of the most critical efforts that we can take on in preparedness is to examine the results of our work to ensure that we are maximizing our impact. To enhance our national health security, evaluation plays an essential role in recognizing successes, identifying gaps, and mapping the most effective path forward. I wanted to highlight some significant evaluation efforts — the National Health Security Preparedness Index™, CDC’s National Snapshot of Public Health Preparedness, and CDC assessment of the Ebola response — to give you a sense of ongoing evaluation work by our partners and at CDC.

The National Health Security Preparedness Index™ (Index) is an assessment of our nation’s health security, providing an annual picture of each state’s and the nation’s preparedness. From the beginning of its development, the Index has been a collaboration of partners. In 2013, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) facilitated its initial development and release with CDC and more than 25 other organizations. In December 2014, an updated and expanded Index was released, exploring additional areas that contribute to health security, including health care delivery and environmental health. Now in its third year, I know that the Index will continue to grow in exciting ways. Under new leadership from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), there are plans to examine more areas that impact health security and to introduce new web-based features. I want to recognize the extraordinary contributions ASTHO and our partners have made thus far to make the Index such a valuable tool, and we look forward to working with RWJF as we participate on the Index’s National Advisory Committee.

Here at CDC, we are in our seventh year producing the annual report focusing specifically on CDC-funded public health preparedness, the National Snapshot of Public Health Preparedness. This report describes the progress in preparedness made by states, localities, and territories. In particular, the report highlights many of the activities supported by CDC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement that makes this progress possible. I encourage you to take a look at the report, in particular the key accomplishments we recognized over the reporting period, as well as the individual state fact sheets to see how your state is performing.

Another avenue that is incredibly valuable is examining how our agency performs during a response. To that end, CDC’s Ebola Response Evaluation Team has been hard at work conducting reviews of CDC’s response activities; rapid, issue-specific evaluations; and interviews with deployed staff who worked on Ebola both internationally and domestically. The Team is also conducting Interim Progress Reviews (IPRs). Action plans are immediately developed and implemented to address issues identified and observations made using these tools. The assessments produced so far have been invaluable for us to understand what has been working well and where we need course corrections, and I look forward to seeing an Interim After Action Report consolidating the lessons of our response to date and a final After Action Report and Improvement Plan when our activation for Ebola ends.

I highlight these ongoing efforts in preparedness and response evaluation as they help us review what we have accomplished so far and where we need to focus future efforts. In addition to guiding our planning, these assessments also provide us with a way to talk about the core capabilities essential to our field and how continued investment is necessary to ensure the safety and health of our country.

Stephen C. Redd, MD
Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Noteworthy Updates

ASPR releases the new National Health Security Strategy

The new National Health Security Strategy, the nation's plan to protect health and save lives during and after a disaster, has been released. Hundreds of organizations and agencies participated in crafting it, and everyone is called to action to secure health, from community organizations and academic institutions to businesses and government agencies at all levels. Learn more.

Addressing Needs of Ebola Patients’ Contacts

MMWR recently released an article about how important it is to meet the needs of contacts of Ebola patients for successful contact tracing, which is critical to interrupting transmission. The article describes how engagement with a wide range of community partners would enhance public health emergency preparedness for Ebola by readying resources to meet potential needs. Learn more.

Addressing Preparedness Challenges for Children in Public Health Emergencies

The most recent session of Grand Rounds discussed strategies to address the unique vulnerabilities of children in every stage of emergency planning. Learn more at CDC’s Public Health Grand Rounds website.

The 2015 Preparedness Summit comes to Atlanta - April 14-17

The Preparedness Summit is the premier national conference for public health and healthcare preparedness. The focus of this year’s summit is “Global Health Security: Preparing a Nation for Emerging Threats.” For more information, visit the Preparedness Summit website.

Partnerships Ebola Website

Visit the Ebola Response Section of the Partnerships website to get the latest Ebola updates and information for partners.