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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Building and Sustaining Healthy, Resilient Communities

Author: Jarrett, Elizabeth
Published Date: 9/30/2014 2:14:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; National Health Security;

When a disaster strikes, some communities come together and help their members find ways to stay safe and healthy in the face of a wide range of threats to physical and mental health. Some do not. A community’s ability to withstand, adapt to, and recover from the health impacts of a disaster is known as community health resilience. Community health resilience  includes the community’s ability to prepare the health systems that the community relies on every day, such as the public health and healthcare systems, so that they are ready to protect health and save lives during and after a disaster.

Your community can take actions to increase preparedness while promoting robust day-to-day systems. Some ways that communities can build resilience include:

  • Building social connectedness so that communities are better equipped to understand their needs and help each other during and after an emergency;
  • Becoming prepared and willing to help during an emergency by getting trained in CPR and first aid before a disaster strikes;
  • Using health education to promote health and wellness as well as disaster preparedness;
  • Expanding communication and collaboration with community-based organizations; businesses; academia; state and local governments; and public health, healthcare, and emergency management partners;
  • Encouraging youth to help their communities  by joining civic organizations or volunteerism;
  • Building strong partnerships among people and organizations that can be leveraged to improve response and sustain recovery;
  • Engaging at-risk individuals and the programs that serve them to develop robust disaster and continuity of operations plans; and
  • Strengthening and promoting access to public health, healthcare systems, and social services.

Early next year, HHS plans to publish the National Health Security Strategy (2015-2018), which will emphasize community health resilience as a focus area critical to achieving national health security. By helping your community to increase its level of resilience, you can help our nation become more secure as a whole.

Increasing community health resilience requires the whole community to work together and leverage its diverse assets, such as infrastructure, talents, skills, relationships, technology, and national resources.

Do you have ideas on ways that communities can work together to increase their connectedness so that local health agencies and community-based organizations (such as civic or voluntary services) can promote connectedness before, during and after a disaster? Share your ideas on ASPR’s IdeaScale campaign, Increasing Social Connectedness to Improve Community Resilience.


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