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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Goal 1: Promote Resilient Communities by Fostering a Nation Able to Withstand and Recover from Public Health Emergencies

Health security depends on a resilient nation able to withstand and recover from the adverse health effects of incidents. Knowledge about how best to promote resilience continues to advance, and it is clear that actions throughout the disaster cycle are critical to optimal individual and community function after a disaster. At the core of a resilient nation are individuals and communities knowing how to protect themselves, and being able to do so. Prepared individuals are aware of potential risks, understand where they can turn for help, know what their personal responsibilities are, and are willing to help their neighbors and community members. The ASPR role in fostering empowered communities includes policy leadership that promotes a common national understanding of and approach toward resilience. Resilience in the context of health intersects with emergency management, healthcare, public health, social services, and community capacity building. ASPR’s work includes the careful identification of factors that can promote resilience in public health systems, hospitals and healthcare coalitions, and the behavioral and human services sectors in order to align policy and practice to build resilience. A critical part of this is promoting innovative thinking about the ways in which individuals connect and form communities. New technologies and ways of communicating – such as social media – can also strengthen these connections to foster resilience.   


  • Provide guidance, align policy and plans, and share promising practices to promote community health resilience within ASPR programs, throughout the federal interagency, and among external partners. Proposed activities:
    • Collaboratively build a shared understanding of key factors involved in community health resilience among public health, healthcare, social service, and emergency management partners [OPP];
    • Develop measures and outcomes for community health resilience [OPP];
    • Integrate resilience practices and strategies into ASPR’s policy, programs, and operations, as well as promote alignment of community health resilience policy across the interagency [OPP, all parts of ASPR];
    • Convene an interagency federal community health resilience coalition to provide a venue for federal stakeholders to share promising practices and identify collaborative opportunities [OPP];
    • Engage Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) awardees to adopt practices that ensure their health care facilities can retain operational capacity throughout disasters, or have the ability to quickly return to operational capacity after an event [OEM];
    • Collect and share promising practices and policies that build resilience among stakeholders through educational presentations, preparedness instruction, and briefs to diverse elements of healthcare systems at conferences, Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) events, hospital Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) classes, and other venues [OEM, OPP & COO];
    • Assist internal customers with effective use of emergency acquisition tools (e.g. rapid contracting services) and how these assist in responding to communities’ needs [AMCG];
    • Ensure end-users are engaged in planning and development of all new MCM projects [BARDA];
    • Ensure that MCM manufacturing facilities are considered as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure and are included on prioritized infrastructure lists maintained by DHS and HHS, and are able to continue operations in the face of disasters [BARDA];
    • Promote education and guidance to enhance individual and family health preparedness [OPP, OEM];
    • Review and develop strategies that prepare the general public to be able to provide assistance during disasters and public health emergencies [OPP].
Outcome: Government agencies, public health practitioners, and healthcare stakeholders have access to community health resilience information and guidance, and apply promising practices to enhance health resilience before, during, and after disasters and public health emergencies.
  • Enhance community connectedness and empower individuals to take action to protect their health in the event of a disaster by fostering innovation and the use of new technologies and social networks. Proposed activities:
    • Convene interagency forums as a venue for stakeholders to share information, exchange promising practices, and develop collaborative opportunities on the uses of social networks and emerging technologies during prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery [OPP, COO];
    • Promote the use of social networks for strengthening individuals and communities [OPP, COO & OEM];
    • Promote partnerships with private and not-for-profit entities to develop resilience-building programs, technologies, and applications [OPP, OEM];
    • Ensure MCM development plans address needs of at-risk individuals [BARDA, OPP];
    • Promote industry and community awareness/adoption of “smart” durable medical equipment (DME), particularly for those who are electrically dependent [OPP].
Outcome: Individuals and communities are more connected, aware, and empowered to take action to protect their health in the event of disaster; have access to timely and effective information; and use social networks and innovative technologies to enhance communication.
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  • This page last reviewed: February 26, 2014