Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
A Plan to Safeguard the United States by Strengthening Implementation of the International Health Regulations based on the 2016 Joint External Evaluation
On October 18, 2018, the U.S. Government released the U.S. Health Security National Action Plan: Strengthening Implementation of the International Health Regulations based on the 2016 Joint External Evaluation, containing hundreds of cross-sectoral activities to make our country better prepared to prevent, detect, and respond to public health emergencies. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) led the coordination of the plan’s development, working closely with the National Security Council (NSC) and more than 40 U.S. government departments and agencies to identify key activities and ensure long-term support for its implementation.
The U.S. Health Security National Action Plan follows an intensive Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of U.S. capacities in May 2016, which was conducted as part of our commitment to the domestic implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005)—an international legal framework for global health security, where countries build their own health security capacities and take part of a global surveillance and response network created through the IHR. As a result, the activities proposed in the plan address capacity gaps found by national and international subject-matter experts during the JEE and also further the multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach promoted by the IHR to adequately prevent, detect, and respond to public health security threats.
At the global level, the plan reinforces our commitment to using country-level action to strengthen global health security, which the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) has supported since its launch in 2014, Our JEE and now the U.S. Health Security National Action Plan support GHSA’s efforts promoting the effective implementation of the IHR at the domestic level through JEEs and the subsequent development of countries’ national action plans. Considering that more than 60 member countries, international organizations, and non-governmental stakeholders are part of GHSA, the U.S. JEE and release of the U.S. Health Security National Action Plan is an opportunity to serve as an example in exercising transparency in domestic health security planning, encouraging other countries to do the same.
Additionally, the U.S. Health Security National Action Plan values the need to work across disciplines and sectors and with the international community to be able to prevent, detect, and respond to complex public health threats at home, which reflects the approach promoted by the IHR. Collaboration with state and local authorities and the private sector are also essential to strengthening capacities at the local level, which is why the plan strategically draws from partnerships forged with these groups through key federal agencies. As a result, the activities included in the plan maximize the use of this approach to achieve meaningful results in many of the areas.
The U.S. Health Security National Action Plan is a key piece of the larger national health security efforts to improve our country’s health security capacities. Its implementation will complement and support critical aspects of the National Security Strategy and the implementation of the U.S. National Biodefense Strategy and the National Health Security Strategy. It provides a far-reaching monitoring and evaluation mechanism to help track relevant activities and inform the implementation of these and other national strategies to help protect the health security of the United States.
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