Public Health Preparedness Capabilities: Standards for State and Local Planning

Because of ever-present public health threats, whether a result of accidental or intentional means, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released its report on Public Health Preparedness Capabilities: National Standards for State and Local Planning. The report presents standards on disaster prevention, disaster response, and disaster recovery in the event of a public health crisis.

Evolving Threats and Strengthening the Public Health System

According to the report, while public health departments have made progress since 2001, as demonstrated in CDC’s state preparedness reports, state and local public health departments face ongoing challenges, including an ever-evolving public health threat list.

“Regardless of the threat, an effective public health response begins with an effective public health system with robust systems in place to conduct routine public health activities,” the CDC report specified. “In other words, strong state and local public health systems are the cornerstone of an effective public health response.”

Defining National Standards for State and Local Planning

In response to these challenges — and in preparation for a five-year Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement that begins in August 2011 — the CDC implemented a systematic process for “defining a set of public health preparedness capabilities to assist state and local health departments with their strategic planning.”

The proposed plan included in the CDC’s published report creates national standards for public health preparedness and capability-based planning. The standards will assist state and local officials in identifying preparedness gaps, determining specific jurisdictional priorities, and developing plans for building and sustainment.

“These standards are designed to accelerate state and local preparedness planning, provide guidance and recommendations for preparedness planning, and, ultimately, assure safer, more resilient, and better prepared communities,” the report cited.

The CDC identified the following 15 public health preparedness capabilities as the basis for state and local public health preparedness:

Biosurveillance Incident Management
Public Health Laboratory Testing 
Public Health Surveillance and Epidemiological Investigation

Community Resilience
Community Preparedness
Community Recovery

Countermeasures and Mitigation
Mass Care 
Medical Countermeasure Dispensing 
Medical Material Management and Distribution 
Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions 
Responder Safety and Health

Information Management
Emergency Operations Coordination

Information Management
Emergency Public Information and Warning 
Information Sharing

Surge Management
Fatality Management 
Mass Care
Medical Surge
Volunteer Management

The report also addressed aligning standards across national programs, a recommended systematic approach, engaging stakeholders, and moving forward.

For more detailed information about the CDC’s new public health preparedness and response standards, read the full article:http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/capabilities/Capabilities_March_2011.pdf