A rewarding aspect of my job as the Director of CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR) is the visibility it provides over effective relationships established to improve community resilience and overall national health security. One timely example is the role the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) plays as a convener to support the development of the National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI) (hereafter referred to as the Index). In April 2013, ASTHO will distribute the Index in draft developmental form to states for a two-month review period. Through the support of a CDC cooperative agreement, ASTHO assembled experts from across stakeholder categories including public health, emergency management, private sector, non-profits, government, and academia to lead development of the Index. This has been a massive effort involving more than 25 organizations and 75 individuals, and it will lead to very concrete improvements in measuring our nation’s emergency preparedness.
I want to share the significance of the Index. To date, no comprehensive measure has been developed to view the entire, integrated health security picture with a focus on public health and healthcare preparedness. The Index will be an annual measure of health security and preparedness at national and state levels, which over time will provide greater and more accurate, relevant and actionable data to measure emergency preparedness levels. The information in the Index is expected to guide inquiry and stimulate dialogue that informs decision-making and supports continuous quality improvement activities.
Over the past decade, significant time, effort, and financial resources have been invested in strengthening our nation’s health security. Much has been accomplished, yet we are reminded with each event that gaps remain and new potential threats to our health security are likely to emerge. In short, the Index assesses where we are and helps guide efforts to achieve a higher level of health security preparedness.
I want to acknowledge the work of key leaders who have made the development of the Index not only attainable but also worthwhile. These individuals are Drs. John Lumpkin, Tom Inglesby, Cathy Slemp, and Jonathan Links. They each are highly respected both inside and outside of their respective professions and graciously give of their time to act as the Chairs over the 75 individuals who make up the Index Project Team, comprising a steering committee and three workgroups. Each of the individuals named above has demonstrated selfless leadership in taking on the hard work and challenging task of creating the Index over the past 13 months, and this work should not go unnoticed. I extend my gratitude for their foresight, leadership and dedication. They have worked tirelessly with ASTHO to ensure that the Index provides us with a more complete picture of health emergency preparedness nationwide.
For more information on the Index, please visit: http://www.nhspi.org/.