Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
The International Assistance and Response Policy Branch works with national and international partners to develop policies and plans to facilitate mutual assistance and improve coordination during public health and medical emergencies with both domestic and international implications.
The team designs solutions to the complex legal, regulatory, logistical, policy, ethical, and funding challenges that threaten to impede the sending and/or receiving of assistance during public health and medical emergencies at the domestic-international interface.
DIHS has developed a series of policies and plans that have been successfully implemented during the responses to H1N1 (2009) Pandemic Influenza, the Haiti Earthquake, the Fukushima Earthquake and nuclear power plant incident, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Ebola and Zika Viruses outbreaks, and a variety of medical emergencies. This work includes:
DIHS leads the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) Medical Countermeasures (MCM) Task Force which brings member countries together with the World Health Organization (WHO) to identify and address the legal, regulatory and logistical barriers to the international sharing of medical countermeasures during emergencies. Based on lessons learned from the international deployment of 2009 H1N1 vaccine, the MCM Task Force has developed an operational framework for the international emergency deployment of medical countermeasures. The DIHS Director and Deputy Directors serve as the MCM Task Force Chair and Executive Director, respectively.
DIHS, as an active member of the GHSI Sample Sharing Task Force, has led the development of a framework that has been tested during the Zika outbreak. Critical aspects of it, including a standard Material Threat Assessment (MTA), were used to share Zika Virus samples with GHSI countries at the onset of the oubreak.
At the start of the 2015-2016 Zika outbreak, DIHS stood up the US Sample Sharing Working Group and leveraged our existing international partnerships to acquire the first clinical specimens from patients with Zika virus from the Americas. These critical samples enabled the CDC and FDA to validate diagnostic assays and blood safety screening tests, as well as to start the development of panels for ASPR/BARDA to supply diagnostic manufacturers with material to validate their assays.
Under the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza and the Beyond the Border Initiative, DIHS leads collaborations with our North American partners to develop policy and operational protocols for the provision of mutual assistance during emergencies, including the exchange of laboratory samples, medical countermeasures and public health and medical personnel.
During a large-scale international medical or public health emergency response effort, the ASPR convenes the HHS Disaster Leadership Group (DLG) and depending on the nature of the event, DIHS serves as the international policy advisor to the ASPR and the DLG by:
Examples of DIHS’ Role in Past Emergencies
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