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April 19
Medical Reserve Corps: Building Bridges to Promote Health Security for Every Community

Did you know that your zip code can be a predictor of your health? So can your place of birth, where you work and play, your income and education, as well as the choices you make each day about what you eat, when to exercise, and whether or not to see a doctor. These factors, recognized by public health professionals as social determinants of health, are linked to inequities in health and healthcare (health disparities) that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities in America.

April is National Minority Health Month and it is a great time to pause and consider ways that we can bridge health equity gaps in our communities.  As more people in our communities become healthy, we become more resilient in the face of a disaster and increase our national health security.

But how can we reach people in other communities?  What can we do to decrease health disparities?

We can start by volunteering.  The Medical Reserve Corps works in communities across the country to help people become healthier and stronger, and many of the MRC’s programs have focused on helping people in minority communities.

Here are a few examples of MRC programs that embody the spirit of National Minority Health Month and support achievement of OMH’s vision:

  • Chicago Familia Latina Unida MRC (Illinois) – The Chicago Familia Latina Unida MRC recruits and trains volunteers to work at prevention information and screening workshops with an aim of reducing and eliminating the 20-year life expectancy gap that exists between many Chicago neighborhoods and the national average. To accomplish this, volunteers are educated in topics including nutrition, exercise, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and cancers. They are also trained to screen for these diseases and bring their skills back to their neighborhoods to increase early detection. The program specifically targets the Latino population of these neighborhoods.
  • Capitol City Pharmacy MRC (Washington, D.C.) – CCPMRC’s PrepareDC outreach initiative affects thousands of D.C. residents every year through emergency preparedness and community resilience outreach opportunities. This past February, the unit promoted Heart Health Month, recognizing major cardiovascular disease risk factor differences and the large gap in diagnosis and treatment access amongst minority communities. The CCPMRC helped spread awareness of heart disease throughout D.C. neighborhoods, promoting high-quality care to residents in need.
  • Native Health Initiative MRC and Bosque School Jr. MRC (New Mexico) – These two units partnered to host the first ever Gratitude Run/Walk on Thanksgiving Day 2016 as part of their ongoing  efforts to reduce obesity and improve health outcomes for the Native American population. Over 400 people participated in this collaborative health and wellness event, which also raised donations for families in need and Running Medicine, a family-oriented fitness program of the Native Health Initiative.

Ready to start decreasing health disparities in your community? Chances are good that you can find an MRC unit near you!  The MRC network comprises close to 1,000 community-based units and almost 200,000 volunteers throughout the U.S., including people with medical, public health, and healthcare backgrounds.  To find a unit in your area or to learn more, visit mrc.hhs.gov.

April 12
How forming a neighborhood sports team improved community resilience and national health security

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years coaching my kids’ ball teams in the neighborhood, basketball for my girls and baseball for my son. I’m a sports guy so it was a lot of fun. But I never really thought about how what I was doing actually affected national health security.

We have a good-sized  neighborhood and when we started the basketball team, not everyone knew each other. Through the team, the kids got to be friends and so did all the parents. We ended up with a really strong social network. With a lot of parents working, you all take turns getting kids to practice and games. It means communicating with each other all the time and having plans to back up each other when last minute things come up.


Jay Petillo-Coaching Awards 

That social network – everybody talking each other, backing up each other, supporting each other – that increases national health security. For our neighborhood, it’s come in really handy in emergencies like during the 9-11 attacks. We live in the Washington, D.C., area. Some of the parents worked in the city and had to respond to that emergency; others were stuck in totally insane traffic trying to get home. But some parents worked close to home and were able to say, “hey, I’m at the bus stop; I’ll get your kids, too.” It was a huge relief to know that your kids were safe and for kids to know that their parents were ok.

Being a close-knit neighborhood has had a lasting impact on our kids. A lot of them are still friends even though they’re in college or starting jobs now; they have that strong social network to fall back on when they need it. People with strong social networks tend to be healthier and can handle the stress of emergencies better.

When they’re playing sports, kids are running around and getting exercise, and that helps them stay healthier. Healthier people are more likely to survive disasters. So in a way, that improves national health security, too.

Now that the kids are older, they’re taking a cue from their parents and getting involved at work or at school. For instance, one of my daughters is part of a mentoring program at her college; she mentors high school and middle school students. My oldest promotes heart health as part of her job. My son and other kids in the neighborhood volunteer at a preschool. They may not be coaching sports, but that’s ok. They’re getting involved, making the community stronger and healthier, and that’s what matters when it comes to increasing national health security.

Who would have thought that by doing something as fundamental as getting involved with a kids’ ball team could make such a difference in national health security? It’s just something people do every day.

April 05
Connecting Neighbors in Need to Loved Ones: Communications after Superstorm Sandy

During or after a disaster, being able to get in touch with either emergency services or family members and loved ones can make all the difference in health resilience. When Hurricane Sandy hit the New York metro area in October of 2012, it left severe damage in its wake. Tens of thousands of area residents were displaced or without power. Many roads were impassable due to damage or debris. Communications infrastructure was damaged beyond immediate repair. Therefore thousands of people were unable to get in contact with their loved ones to make sure they were okay or to see if they needed immediate help or assistance of some kind.

Seeing an immediate need for getting communications systems back up and running, several non-government organization (NGOs) worked together to quickly restore the networks that were needed to allow critical communications to continue among emergency management personnel. The partnerships created in the aftermath of this disaster resulted in a new NGO that was focused on technology resources specifically.

The new NGO assists communities with technology continuity and recovery during times of disaster. By working together toward this common goal, the New York City and state governments, the FEMA Innovation team, community-based organizations (CBOs), and other technology NGOs were all able to provide temporary communications, resources, and technology assistance to affected communities.

Internet-based telephone services were installed in critical fire stations, computers were added to command centers, and Wi-Fi infrastructure was restored in shelters and disaster recovery centers. By ensuring residents and response workers had continuous access to internet communications, this partnership helped storm survivors connect with their social networks, access help, and contact loved ones.

Keeping communications up and running before, during, and after a disaster can significantly shape the health outcomes of affected victims. Such partnerships that help communities better withstand and recover faster from disaster are essential to national health security.

(Sources: FEMA, www.fema.gov; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, www.dhs.gov; NACCHO; www.naccho.org).

April 03
For national health security, local capability is key

When you think about how to create a uniform sense of safety and security to protect our nation's health in times of disaster, you really need to look at capabilities at the local level. The things local and state health departments do every single day to make our lives healthier, safer and better also are fundamental to our national health security. Local and state health departments often are the first to detect that “something's going on” and are on the front lines of the fight against public health threats.

Health departments’ every day activities can help mitigate potential public health emergencies. If someone tried to poison a community’s food system, local food safety inspections should be able to discover those threats quickly through the mechanisms that the community uses every day to inspect foods and restaurants.

A lot of health departments sponsor flu vaccination clinics to protect health in their communities ahead of the flu season. Doing so becomes muscle memory and provides a foundation to meet their community’s needs during a mass vaccination incident.

Local health departments also conduct routine health assessments to identify health issues in their communities. Those assessments can help a community better respond to the health needs of their residents during disasters. For instance, a local health official can identify through a standard health assessment that a percentage of the community is vulnerable because of particular health issues and where they live. This knowledge allows local health departments to predict and plan for vulnerable populations’ needs during a disaster.

September 11 crystallized the need for our nation’s public health and healthcare sector to identify ways to protect our nation during public health emergencies. To boost their ability to address community health needs in the face of declining resources, local and state public health departments now routinely reach out to partners in the private sector, nonprofit organizations and others to create a whole-of-community approach to public health. They recognize that working with local organizations can be mutually beneficial for emergency planning, response and post-disaster recovery.

Your community may have additional resources and volunteer-based organizations, including the American Red Cross, or visiting nurse services. There’s the Medical Reserve Corps with about 180,000 volunteers throughout the country. They can support local health departments by promoting everyday community health activities and by serving as part of the response to disasters.

Local health departments also are pulling in non-traditional partners, like HAM radio operators. Radio is one of the most resilient forms of communication technology and HAM radio operators have helped governmental agencies respond to disasters. While a community organization’s primary focus may not be on disasters, they may be willing adapt their own services and procedures to ensure communities are taken care of during disasters.

These organizations know the segments of the community their volunteers serve, and they help local health departments connect with those community members and provide support to public health.

I hope state and local health departments also take advantage of resources available through ASPR. For example, the Hospital Preparedness Program provides some funding and excellent guidance to build and maintain health care coalitions supporting individual medical needs and public health. There’s also emPOWER to aid health officials and community organizations in planning for vulnerable populations’ needs, and TRACIE for sharing information and best practices among health care and public health entities and finding experts for technical assistance 24/7/365. Knowing more about the medical responders and supplies available from the National Disaster Medical System for health care during a disaster can be crucial in local and state emergency planning, too.

If you don’t know your area’s regional emergency coordinator, reach out. These experts can assist in planning, training, responding and recovering from the health consequences of public health emergencies.

ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) periodically arranges opportunities to discuss what’s in the medical countermeasures pipeline so health departments can include this information in response plans. Health officials also can provide valuable information to BARDA to help determine what form medical countermeasures should take to ensure that when medications or vaccines get to the state and local level, they can be efficiently and effectively dispensed and used.

If you aren’t sure what resources the federal government offers to help with public health emergency response and recovery, check out the HHS Response and Recovery Resources Compendium.

Strengthening public health is a hard job and even the largest health departments are challenged to respond to the needs of the millions of people who make up their local population. In ASPR, we’re working to help local and state public health departments and health care systems across the country build on their existing capabilities to protect health and save lives when disaster strikes.

March 30
Powering the next generation of antibacterial innovation to enhance national security

It’s about the people. Picture a worried mother from Arizona walking into the hospital with her 11-year-old daughter. The girl had gone from tired to intense hip pain and a high fever in just a few days. A blood test revealed a potentially fatal condition called sepsis from a Staphylococcus infection. The infection had begun as an abscess in her hip muscle, spread into her blood, and eventually caused a devastating antibiotic-resistant bacterial pneumonia in her lungs.

Mom sat day-in and day-out watching her daughter’s health rapidly fade; tubes ran all over her body, and a special machine helped her breathe. Other complications developed, and she suffered a stroke. As a last resort, doctors placed her on an intravenous antibiotic known to be toxic to people’s kidneys, and they prepared the family for the worst.

This little girl, who had loved playing softball, swimming, and running track, finally began to recover. She left the hospital in a wheelchair five months after she had arrived. She had lost the use of her left arm, had almost no vision in her left eye, and had restricted vision in her right eye. She had limited use of her left leg. She would need medical attention and therapy for the rest of her life.

It’s for families like these that we’re pursuing new and innovative antibacterial products – drugs, diagnostics, and therapies – through CARB-X, one of the world’s largest public-private partnerships dedicated to developing products that combat antibiotic-resistant infections. Today, we are honored to announce the first projects to be powered by CARB-X.

The CARB-X board thoroughly vetted 168 proposals and selected 11 projects that represent truly exciting early stage research. Three of them could become the first in new classes of antibiotics, and four are innovative non-traditional products. Some of the projects also take new approaches, known as mechanisms of action, to target and kill bacteria. All of the potential new medicines target Gram-negative bacteria prioritized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

These first projects create a diverse CARB-X portfolio and represent the innovation of the CARB-X partnership. My agency, along with Wellcome Trust in the United Kingdom, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and our other CARB-X partners, are taking Silicon Valley’s incubator/accelerator business model a step further. This early in development, the vast majority of products – 80 percent or more – fail for a variety of reasons. To minimize that risk, we’re providing more than non-dilutive funding for these products; we’re also providing the business support and drug development expertise the companies, including start-ups, need to increase their odds of success. That way at least one or two reach clinical trial.

At BARDA we're dedicated to investing in innovative science through novel public-private partnerships. Because drug-resistant infections complicate the medical response in chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear emergencies, we devised a three-part strategy that leverage push and pull incentives to progress promising new antibacterial products from the bench to the bedside. Our role in national security is to protect our nation by supporting the development of these and other products that will either prevent harm from exposure to some of the greatest threats we face as a nation, or will bring you back to full recovery as quickly as possible following such events.

In addition to CARB-X, we have a clinical-stage antibacterial program which is sponsoring development of 13 promising products through partnerships with individual companies. These partnerships include four companies that formed strategic alliances with us to create portfolios of new antibacterial products.

BARDA also is exploring new ways to shift the current commercial market paradigm through "market entry rewards", because the current model of selling enough to recoup development costs and make a profit does not work well for antibiotic development. To be effective, antibiotics should be seldom used, which translates into far too little incentive for companies to develop new drugs to address this threat.

In the coming months we anticipate adding other products to the Powered by CARB-X portfolio, You can find out more about the initial 11 products Exit Icon and follow along as we look to expand our portfolio to up to 20 products. In 2017, CARB-X will seek new partners - funders and accelerators who want to join our team as we “Xccelerate global antibacterial Innovation”. Watch for these opportunitiesExit Icon.

We expect a multi-faceted return on investment for the U.S., the U.K. and the world - enhanced national security and healthier communities - as we attempt to bend the curve on the projected health care costs of deadly drug-resistant bacterial infections.

With CARB-X we’re stimulating the market for the public good while enhancing national security and global health security. Our most important return on investment are the lives we can save by accelerating development of new products to prevent, diagnose and treat antibacterial-resistant infections. Ultimately, it's about the people.​

March 23
Tails from the Field: An Unusual Ambassador for Preparedness

He’s been called “Fred’s driver.” He’s been called “that guy.” Michael McNulty, emergency operations director for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), says that’s OK because Fred the Preparedness Dog is the one spreading the message of safety and resilience.

After Fred, McNulty’s German Shepherd, took shelter in the bathtub on a stormy day in 2013, his owner gave him a backpack with emergency supplies and promoted a picture on social media. “Having worked in emergency preparedness for ten years, I saw something more in that picture: Fred was doing a good job at being prepared,” says McNulty. “The bathtub is where my family shelters when there are weather warnings in our area.”

So Fred, with some help from McNulty, started spreading the message on preparedness. Fred became so popular that he and McNulty now spend much of their time visiting schools, fairs, and other events to teach kids about preparedness and encourage them to take the message home. “They’ll go to their parents and say, ‘There was a dog at school today, and he had all this stuff. Why don’t we have stuff?’” McNulty says.

Fred made his first appearance in April 2013 at a preparedness event at the Topeka Collegiate School in Topeka, Kansas. As the official mascot for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Preparedness Program, Fred’s work is aimed at getting both people and their pets prepared for severe weather and other types of emergencies. With additional funding from the CDC and resources such as coloring books, stickers, and a smartphone app, McNulty and the KDHE have been able to spread Fred’s message of preparedness planning across the state.

“Together, Fred and I travel to schools and events across Kansas, teaching kids how to keep themselves and their families safe,” says McNulty. “When we go to schools, kids help unpack the kit and see what’s inside. As they take out the items, we talk about each one: the flashlight, the maps, the contact numbers, the hand wipes, the first-aid kit, etc. We also talk about making sure family pets are accounted for in an emergency plan.”

As Fred’s owner, McNulty hopes that Fred can help demonstrate what goes into a severe weather preparedness kit for students and educate them on how to prepare for severe weather events. Thanks to the viral nature of social media, Fred’s work has turned into a state-wide preparedness campaign for all children between the ages of 6 and 12.

Fred the Preparedness Dog is just one way health departments are making emergency preparedness more accessible and fostering a culture in which people of all ages are mindful of their health and resilience. Such efforts to keep all people – and their furry friends -- safe before, during, and after a disaster are the cornerstone of national health security.

Even if you can’t meet Fred in person, you can check out the lessons on emergency preparedness that he is teaching to students and families. To learn more about Fred and the way that he gets students excited about emergency preparedness, check out his website at www.fredthepreparednessdog.org Exit Icon or follow him on Facebook Exit Icon and Twitter Exit Icon.

(Sources: NACCHO, naccho.org; CDC, cdc.gov)

March 17
From Concept to Operations: Building Disaster Health Resilience in one of America’s Largest Communities

If you want to take your disaster health security plans from paper to practice you need to involve the community – no matter what the size. But when your community is large, diverse and vulnerable to a wide array of threats, community engagement becomes even more important. Los Angeles is the second largest city in the U.S. and it is vulnerable to 13 of the 16Exit Icon federally-identified types of natural disasters and man-made threats. When you are trying to protect that many people from such a wide array of threats to health, you don’t just need a plan – you need to build the connections within the community that can help you put your plan into action.

And that is exactly what the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health did.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health created the Los Angeles County Community Disaster ResilienceExit Icon (LACCDR) project, which focused on three key planning areas: coalition building, community education, and community resilience activities.

LACCDR is a comprehensive, community-based approach designed to identify the area residents’ needs in a disaster as well as the resources that the community can draw on to promote resilience. As part of this approach, LACCDR’s activities and plans consider the needs of residents who would be most at-risk in the event of a disaster.

First, the LACCDR project staff focus on developing and strengthening partnerships, especially those in new areas or where gaps exist. Faith-based organizations are at the center of many of these partnerships, but LACCDR also works with hospitals, health clinics, and private businesses as well. Some of these partnerships are formalized through memoranda of understanding or coalitions, while others rely on informal relationships and an ongoing dialogue. These partnerships enable LACCDR to directly reach community residents with resilience-building activities.

Education is the second component of success for the LACCDR project. In order for people to protect their own health and the health of people around them, they need to know what to do. LACCDR, in partnership with many community-based organizations, has developed networks that enable it to reach people with actionable information they can use to become more resilient in the face of a disaster. For example, in the early months of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, LACCDR worked with its partners to distribute verified information that city residents could use to stay healthy throughout the pandemic.

Third, LACCDR developed hands-on activities that the people of Los Angeles can take part in to build individual disaster health resilience and form coalitions. For example, the LACCDR developed a toolkitExit Icon that provided different neighborhoods within the region with detailed information on how to build resilience by creating community coalitions. Within the toolkit are coalition activities such as role-playing exercises to facilitate conversations about resilience among community residents, quizzes that analyze a community’s readiness, mapping exercises to locate resilience resources, and surveys that can help identify community needs.

These efforts combined make Los Angeles County a model of how local health departments nationwide can implement new programs that advance national health security by creating stronger, more resilient communities.

For more information on national health security, visit www.phe.gov/nhss.

March 08
Strengthening Global Health Security: A 17-Year Partnership

In 2009, the influenza virus called H1N1 emerged in the United States and swiftly worked its way around the world, creating the first pandemic in decades. We learned that Mother Nature can be an efficient bioterrorist. From that global response as well as other nations’ responses to emerging infectious diseases and man-made terrorism – from bombings to chemical weapons – we’ve seen the advantages in collaborating with partner countries. Working together to strengthen global health security helps us become better prepared at home to respond to natural and man-made threats.

On February 24, the European Commission hosted the 17th Ministerial Meeting of the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI Exit Icon) in Brussels, Belgium. Ministers of health and delegations from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, along with leaders from the European Commission and the World Health Organization came together to continue their work on strengthening global health security. The GHSI network is a crucial forum to collaborate on solutions to global health security threats. Since 2001, these nations have worked together to share the lessons learned from past crises and to prepare for future challenges.

This year’s ministerial meeting focused on increasing global preparedness in the event of a disease outbreak with pandemic potential and response to both conventional terrorist attacks and those with a chemical, biological, and radiological/nuclear component. During the meeting, the deputy director of Europol, W. Van Gemert, emphasized the need for engagement between the health and security sectors.

The GHSI has a proven track record of collaborating to develop concrete processes that help protect global health security. For example, GHSI has acknowledged the work done to develop a voluntary agreement to facilitate the rapid sharing of non-influenza biological materials among GHSI members during a potential or actual public health emergency. This process was used in 2016 as GHSI partners worked together to share Zika virus and serum samples to develop and decentralize diagnostic capacity.

Additionally, GHSI partners agreed to reduce threats by exchanging information and best practices. They are strengthening technical collaboration with the security sector on a range of health sector preparedness and response measures. GHSI partners also recognized the importance of continuing our support to the international community as we work together to reduce the gaps in global capacities to respond to health emergencies. GHSI members pledged to provide expertise to advance the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) worldwide.

As global health threats continue to evolve and change in an interconnected world, our partnerships enable us to work better together to prepare for and respond effectively to public health threats.

The full summary of key meeting outcomes can be found in the Ministerial Communiqué Exit Icon.

For more information on HHS’ and ASPR’s roles in global health security, visit the Office of Global Health, International Partnerships and The Global Health Security Initiative.



GHSI Heads of Delegation
GHSI Heads of Delegation begin the 17th Ministerial Meeting of the Global Health Security Initiative Pictured from left to right:
  • Dr. Guenael Rodier, Director, Country Health Preparedness and International Health Regulations World Health Organization
  • Global Health Security Action Group Chair, Karin Knufmann-Happe
  • Dr. George Korch, Acting Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, United States of America
  • The Honorable Nicola Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Innovation, United Kingdom
  • Dr. Pablo Kuri, Undersecretary for Prevention and Health Promotion, Mexico
  • Dr. Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Minister for Global Health and Health Industry Strategy, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan
  • Dr. Francesco Maraglino, Director, Office of Communicable Diseases, Italy
  • The Honorable Hermann Gröhe, Federal Minister of Health, Germany
  • Professor Benoît Vallet, Director General of Health, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, France
  • Dr. Siddika Mithani, President, Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Julian King, Commissioner for the Security Union, European Commission
  • The Honorable Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, European Commission

ASPR representing the United States and Secy Price at the 17th GHSI Ministerial
ASPR was proud to represent the United States and Secretary Price at the 17th Global Health Security Initiative ministerial to strengthen preparedness for CBRN terrorist attacks & pandemics.


The GHSI ministers, representatives of the EU Commission and WHO
GHSI ministers, representatives of the EU Commission and the World Health Organization met to strengthen global health security.
March 08
Building A Little More Community Resilience Every Day

How Local Health Departments are Strengthening National Health Security

Every day, in communities across the country, local health departments are working to strengthen national health security.  Many of the day-to-day activities of public health make communities healthier and more resilient in the face of a disaster.  When local health departments support vaccination clinics, take steps to teach the community about emergency preparedness, and bring together volunteers, they are supporting national health security.

Many people turn to local health departments for information and resources on threats to their community’s health and ways to stay safe. The people in local health departments work collaboratively with a diverse network to address public health challenges, mobilize community partners, serve as a link to health care services, and keep communities safe.    

Want to see how local health departments translate national health security from paper to practice?  Check out this video from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).  To learn more about national health security, visit www.PHE.gov/NHSS

National Health Security:  How Local Health Departments Are Making A Difference 
 
 

March 03
Connecting Your Faith-Based Organization with the Community: 5 Projects That Help Build Health Security

Every day, people across the country connect with others in their neighborhoods through faith-based organizations. Whether through services at a local congregation or leading volunteer efforts, faith-based organizations support their local communities provide opportunities for its members to build social ties.

Your faith-based organization probably already sponsors a number of programs that focus on the health of people in your community, but did you know that making sure the people in your neighborhood can stay healthy before, during, or after a disaster is critical to achieving national health security?

Disasters could strike at any time, and when they do, they could threaten the health of an entire community. By providing services that keep residents healthy, strong, and prepared, you’re doing your part to build the resilience of your community. It’s this resilience is that makes people – and ultimately the nation –better protected in the face of smaller, everyday incidents, and better able to withstand, manage, and recover from disasters. This, in turn, strengthens national health security.

Here are a few examples of activities that help strengthen your local community and our nation’s health security:

  1. Create a health ride share program – Whether it’s a temporary injury or permanent disability, many people have trouble with getting to important health appointments or running errands. Establish a volunteer program within your congregation or organization where people can sign up during certain days or hours to offer free rides to other members to doctor appointments, clinic visits, pharmacies, or grocery stores and other common errands. Your community probably knows who needs help already. Do members of your congregation offer rides to help people get to religious services? Those people probably need help getting other services as well. Consider expanding the program so that people get a ride to services and help running errands. This also helps your members get to know one another better!
  2. Establish a health resilience team or council – Ask your congregation for volunteers who can find the best ways to help the community, focusing on health and preparedness. These council members can serve as official liaisons for your place of worship by reaching out to local health and emergency organizations to ask how they can help, share information, and more. Your council should have relationships with the local city or county health department, the police and fire departments, local hospitals, and health clinics or other health agencies.
  3. Make a health resource directory – Ask members of your congregation what resources they would be willing to lend out to others in need or donate to the community, especially in a disaster. It could be electric generators for those who need to keep in-home medical equipment functioning, extra medical supplies, or even tapping into the personal skills of those trained in CPR or with medical backgrounds. Put together the list of items or offerings along with contact information and details, provide it to all your members, and ask for volunteers who can update it regularly.
  4. Plan for Power Outages – Many people in your community may rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment. In a power outage, they may not have a place to plug in their equipment. If your house of worship has a back-up generator, let the people in your congregation know that they can come over and plug in if the power goes out. If possible, let the broader community and your local health department and emergency management office know that your doors are open to people with these special needs, too. To find out how many people in your area rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment, check out the HHS emPOWER Map.
  5. Throw a block party or a fun community event – Getting to know your neighbors, especially those who may need help in an emergency, helps build community health resilience. Work with fellow members of your congregation and community to provide an opportunity for all residents to get out, meet one another, and socialize.

Whatever activities you think are best for your congregation or community, keep in mind that they should build new relationships and connections with those around you. The most likely person to provide you with help in an emergency is a friend, neighbor, or bystander, rather than an emergency worker or first responder. Building new and strong social connections among neighbors is a key way faith communities can help support national health security!

Want to learn more about what faith-based organizations can do to be involved with national health security? Check out materials and resources from ASPR, including infographics, brochures, and activity guides that provide congregations with a range of ideas you can take to your communities.

Stay connected! Be sure to follow us on Facebook at Public Health Emergency and on Twitter @PHEgov.

You can also visit www.PHE.gov/NHSS for more information on national health security.

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