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Four Great Ways for Local Public Health to Increase National Health Security

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 7/12/2017 5:08:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

Your public health agency or organization probably sponsors many 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 help residents become healthy, strong, and prepared, public health practitioners and organizations can help build community resilience. Community resilience 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.

Build Health Security Awareness

In your role as public health professionals, it’s important to translate the National Health Security Strategy into activities and ideas easier for people to understand and identify. For example, you can:

  • Promote first aid and CPR classes that are offered by qualified organizations in your community like the American Red Cross
  • Encourage people in your community to learn what to do to help injured people Until Help Arrives
  • Making personal and family preparedness checklists with the help of Ready.gov
  • Sponsor or attend public health or community health resilience events

For more ideas, check out the strategic messaging guide for local health departments, created to help keep the conversation going with your audiences. Using social media also can help put your messaging right into the pockets of your audiences while encouraging citizen engagement and outreach.

Host Community Health Resilience Roundtable Workshops

Community resilience requires partnerships among community-based organizations of all kinds, including faith-based organizations, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, schools, and others. As a public health professional, one of the ways you can support stronger national health security is by creating valuable new relationships with key organizations and leaders in your region.

As the experts in public health, you can serve as a leader in bringing different people in your community together and educating them on health resilience and security. Hosting an event like a community health resilience roundtable or workshop is a great way to educate constituents on health security concepts and activities while also strengthening your organization by building new relationships. If you’ve never hosted a roundtable workshop, you can use the new NHS activity guide for public health from ASPR, which includes helped step-by-step guidelines.

Strike Up New Public Private Partnerships

With 90 percent of critical health infrastructure operated by the private sector, incorporating public-private partnerships into preparedness and response planning is vital for creating truly health secure communities, serving as a key component in building the nation’s community health resilience at the local level. These partnerships are defined relationships between a public agency, such as the city’s department of public health, and a private sector entity, like a local non-profit organization. As a result of establishing these partnerships with private groups, public health agencies can benefit from greater participation in the delivery or financing of projects. Public-private partnerships also can have advantages such as reducing development risk, mobilizing underutilized assets, adopting new models, improving service to the community, and increasing cost effectiveness.

Planning for the Needs of At-Risk Populations

At-risk individuals are people who have special needs that may prevent them from having access to or receiving medical care before, during, or after a disaster or emergency. These needs may not be a formal medical diagnosis or easily labeled, but they generally include either access-based needs or function-based needs.

Incorporating at-risk members of your community or organization into your disaster preparedness planning and community health resilience activities is critical, as these are the individuals who are most vulnerable in regards to their health in certain events, even those that are less severe. By using resources like the HHS emPOWER Map or the ASPR Technical  Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (ASPR TRACIE), you can proactively work to better support those people who are at-risk locally.

Whatever public health activities you think are best for your organization, keep in mind that they should build new relationships and connections with others. Building new connections and partnerships among public health and communities is a key way you can help support national health security!

Want to learn more about what public health practitioners and 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.


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