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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Making health security a part of your community-based efforts

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 12/16/2016 10:51:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Response & Recovery;

The valuable work that most community-based organizations do each and every day within communities helps create stronger, healthier citizens, which in turn, helps our nation’s health security. And building stronger, healthier communities is a cornerstone of national health security.

Working to ensure that the health of a community and its residents stays strong and remains resilient in the face of any disaster events is one of the best ways community organizations can help build stronger national health security. So what does this community health resilience look like?

Here’s the story of just one community organization that was able to include national health security in the great work they were already doing:

“Following a hurricane that left significant damage and destruction in its wake, the town and surrounding region of Mount Pleasant, S.C. received an abundance of clothing and supplies donated from all around the country. Unfortunately, the town had no system in place to distribute these supplies and connect them to those members of the community who were most in need after this disaster event. As a result, community organizations and leaders in the region recognized that they needed to be able to distribute relief supplies more effectively in the event of another disaster.
Community-based organizations in the area decided to partner together and establish the new East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO) program. As a part of this program, local volunteer organizations coordinated with each other to develop a system to distribute donations and resources immediately after a disaster to those in greatest need.
With a wide distribution network of contacts and centers dispersed throughout the community, the ECCO is now able to efficiently and effectively get donated resources out to the community and into the hands of those who need them most in the face of any future disasters. Despite the ongoing work of different day-to-day efforts of the volunteer groups in the region, they all worked together to find a way to help build their community’s health resilience and security.”
- Community & Resilience Regional Institute (CARRI).

Its stories like these that showcase how organizations can come together to focus on a common goal: creating healthier, stronger communities.

However, each community’s and each organization’s story will be different. What works for one community organization may not work for another. How your organization chooses to integrate health security into its existing efforts is entirely flexible, as long as these three basic tenets of a health secure community are kept in mind:

  1. Residents make sure everyone is accounted for in events with health consequences.
  2. Neighbors know one another and actively build new relationships and strengthen existing ones.
  3. People in the community work with everyone in it, especially its most at-risk residents like seniors, children, homeless, and the disabled.

Keeping these basic goals in mind in looking at community-based efforts and projects, it’s easy to build connections between the work organizations are already doing and national health security. From health, housing, and nutrition to education, development, and even transportation, the focus of everyday work from practically any community organization can be tied back to national health security!

For more information and resources on national health security, visit www.PHE.gov/NHSS.


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