An Ounce of Prevention

Those dealing with high consequence infectious disease (HCID) events should read the comprehensive new report from researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report, titled "Health Sector Resilience Checklist for High-Consequence Infectious Diseases—Informed by the Domestic US Ebola Response”, contains detailed assessment tools and checklists for health professionals and emergency management workers and medical services, elected officials and public organizations.

Based on firsthand experiences derived from dealing with confirmed cases of Ebola in Atlanta, Dallas, New York and Omaha, the report “identifies challenges and solutions to both common and unique problems faced by these cities, in particular highlighting unanticipated issues,” according to the John Hopkins Center.

"One of the key findings of our research is the diversity of people who end up being involved in a response and how interrelated they are, including many who never expected to be involved," said senior associate at the center and the project's principal investigator Eric Toner in a release. "Therefore, many more stakeholders must participate in planning, and they are eager for firsthand information from others who have experienced an HCID event.”

Although the report is derived from Ebola occurences, it is meant to be relevant to other HCIDs such as smallpox, SARS, MERS and H5N1 influenza A that are novel in the affected community, moderately to highly contagious and lethal, and not easily controllable by medical countermeasures or non-pharmaceutical interventions.

The checklist categories include:

  • Planning and preparedness
  • Leadership
  • Creative flexibility/adaptability
  • Command structure
  • Public trust
  • Managing uncertainty; and
  • Crisis and emergency risk communication.

The report is a meant to complement a previously published health sector resilience checklist for natural disasters based on New York's experience with Hurricane Sandy.