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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Category: National Health Security

Crossing the Finish Line: Project BioShield is Transforming the Nation’s Health Security with Cutting-Edge Innovation, Sound Investments, and Strong Partnerships

Author: Rick A. Bright, Ph.D., BARDA Director
Published Date: 8/7/2019 10:53:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Innovations; National Health Security;

Project BioShield is revolutionizing the way we protect Americans from 21st century health security threats. Think back almost 18 years ago to the anthrax attacks of 2001. That crisis highlighted just how few medical countermeasures our nation had to respond to a bioterrorism incident. The anthrax attacks taught us important lessons that still guide our thinking:  innovation is critical, partnerships matter, and the threats that we face are very real and very serious.


21st Century Health Security Threats: From Anthrax to the Unknown

Alth  Read more…

Project BioShield Evolution: Fifteen Years of Bridging the ‘Valley of Death’ in the Medical Countermeasures Pipeline

Author: By Dr. Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 7/17/2019 12:15:00 PM
Category: Innovations; Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security;

Saving lives in a public health emergency requires cutting-edge medical countermeasures: medications, vaccines, diagnostics, and more. In some types of emergencies, like an act of bioterrorism, some of those medical products have no commercial market. People don’t use an anthrax antitoxin every day – thank goodness. Yet that lack of commercial market also means pharmaceutical or biotech companies had only one possible buyer for their products: the federal government for stockpiling.

In 2004, Congress passed the Project BioShield Act to create a market for products   Read more…

Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act 2019: What Does It Mean for Me and My Organization?

Author: By Dr. Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 6/25/2019 10:54:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; National Health Security;

At ASPR, we’re excited about the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 (PAHPAIA), which the president signed last night. The new law strengthens public health and healthcare readiness, bolsters response and recovery programs, and increases transparency. What do the changes mean for our non-federal partners? We see some key provisions that can significantly improve preparedness and response for our partners.

Improving preparedness

PAHPAIA authorized a funding increase for the Hospital Pr  Read more…

Project BioShield: Enhancing Preparedness, Ensuring Treatment Options

Author: Brian Tse, Oxana Selivanova, Claiborne Hughes, and Mark Albrecht
Published Date: 5/13/2019 9:42:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security;


Stockpiling Novel Antibiotics Safeguards Nation, Sustains Commitment to Industry

Bacteria evolve and change, becoming more dangerous and deadly, and often developing resistance to existing medical countermeasures. Consider some of the resistance problems we face today. In recent years, we’ve seen increasing incidences of multi-drug resistant salmonella, gonorrhea, and typhoid, just to name a few examples. Now, think about what would happen if evolution or terrorists created antibiotic-resistant strains of biothreat agents, such as anthrax, plague, tularemia, mel  Read more…

Help guide the future of disaster health readiness, response, and recovery

Author: Christopher L. Perdue, MD, MPH, Commander (CDR), US Public Health Service, Senior Policy Coordinator, HHS/ASPR Office of Strategy, Policy, Planning, and Requirements
Published Date: 5/7/2019 4:05:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

HHS seeks outside experts for national advisory committee

Disaster readiness, response, and recovery are complex and the threats involved continue to evolve. The nation faces a myriad of potentially challenging health effects following a disaster. The HHS Secretary depends on the advice, expertise, and counsel of outside experts from the National Biodefense Science Board for recommendations to help make complex decisions and guide the future of disaster health preparedness, response, and recovery. Participating on the board provides a unique way to get involved in pu  Read more…

Protecting the Nation from Emerging and Pandemic Infectious Diseases and CBRN Threats

Author: Darrin Donato, Senior Policy Analyst for the Office of Strategy, Policy, Planning, and Requirements within HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Michael Fucci, Jr. Management Analyst with Aveshka Inc. in support of the Office of Strategy, Policy, Planning, and Requirements, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 2/13/2019 9:26:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security;

National Health Security Strategy:  Blog 3

As we scan the threat landscape as a new year begins, we find that we face a range of evolving threats to national health security. Among these risk are emerging infectious diseases that could lead to pandemic and the potential for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies.

An increasing number of immunocompromised and/or unvaccinated people (especially children), global mobility, population density acceleration, urbanization, and a growi  Read more…

Whole-of-Government Approach: What It Means and How It Translates to Improving National Health Security

Author: Daniel Dodgen, Ph.D., Senior Advisor, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 2/6/2019 9:46:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

National Health Security Strategy Blog Series: Part 2

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published its quadrennial strategy to safeguard the nation’s health in times of crisis. The 2019-2022 National Health Security Strategy (NHSS) provides a vision to strengthen the nation’s ability to prevent, detect, assess, prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from disasters and emergencies.

The new strategy focuses on three overarching objectives: 1) prepare, mobilize, and co  Read more…

National Health Security Shapes Federal Approach to Evolving Threats

Author: Darrin Donato, Senior Policy Analyst for the Office of Strategy, Policy, Planning, and Requirements within HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 1/16/2019 12:02:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

Like others around the world, the United States faces diverse and evolving health security threats with the potential to disrupt public health and health care systems and inflict injury and loss of life. To drive U.S. actions to prepare, respond, and recover in the face of modern health security threats, Congress mandated a quadrennial National Health Security Strategy (NHSS).

The 2019-2022 NHSS assesses the current and future threat environment and outlines how the federal government will address vulnerabilities and gaps in public health and health care capabilities.  Read more…

Pandemic Influenza Vaccine: An Investment in Preparedness that Lasts More Than a Decade

Author: By Ruben Donis, Ph.D., Pandemic Influenza Medical Countermeasures Division, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 12/13/2018 9:13:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Innovations; National Health Security;

As part of our nation’s overall pandemic preparedness strategy, HHS set a preparedness goal of establishing and maintaining a stockpile of bulk vaccine antigen and adjuvants for influenza viruses with pandemic potential to vaccinate 26 million people immediately after a pandemic is declared. BARDA began pre-pandemic influenza vaccine procurement in 2005 for vaccines that would provide protection against emerging avian influenza H5N1 viruses posing a significant pandemic threat.  But a decade later we were compelled to ask how long would those stored vaccine components   Read more…

Modernizing the National Disaster Medical System to Meet the Health Security Threats of the 21st Century

Author: Ron Miller, Acting Director for the National Disaster Medical System within the Emergency Management and Medical Operations Division at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 9/4/2018 4:03:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

In 2017, our nation suffered three back-to-back hurricanes that caused catastrophic damage in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That experience highlighted the importance of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) – a federally coordinated system that augments the Nation's medical response capability during times of disasters or public health emergencies. ASPR, the government agency overseeing NDMS, deployed more than 4,600 personnel and 944 tons of medical supplies and equipment to treat app  Read more…

ASPR’s Vision for Building Readiness: Sustaining Robust and Reliable Public Health Security Capabilities

Author: Robert P. Kadlec, MD, MTM&H, MS, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Published Date: 8/10/2018 12:54:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security; Medical Countermeasures; Response & Recovery;

HHS’ Vision for Healthcare Preparedness is a multi-part blog series that describes ASPR’s four pillars to achieving national health security: providing strong leadership, building a Regional Disaster Health Response System, sustaining public health security capabilities, and advancing an innovative medical countermeasures enterprise. This blog focuses on sustaining public health security capabilities. Read the next post in the series here.

A catastrophic health emergency – whether n  Read more…

New Smallpox Antiviral Increases National Health Security

Author: Rick Bright, Director, and Julie Schafer, Acting Director of Strategy, both of ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 7/13/2018 4:20:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Innovations; Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

​​In the 20th century alone, smallpox deaths worldwide numbered in the hundreds of millions. Roughly one-third of people infected with the disease died, while survivors were often left with permanent scars or blindness. After an aggressive global vaccination program in the mid-1970s, the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated.

​​But smallpox remains a health security threat in the 21st century. Fears that undeclared stocks of the smallpox virus might exist and that they could be used as weapons of bioterrorism spurred the U.S. government’s Biomedical Advance  Read more…

From 1918 to 2018: BARDA’s Role in the Evolution of Pandemic Preparedness

Author: Rick Bright, Director, and Julie Schafer, Acting Director of Strategy, both of ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 5/21/2018 4:56:00 PM
Category: Innovations; Public Health Preparedness; Observances; Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security;

BARDA and its industry partners have made tremendous strides to build better, faster, and more flexible vaccine technologies to enable the right vaccine to be where we need it, when we need it. Combating this age-old problem is an epic challenge, and there is still work to be done to speed availability of life-saving vaccines in a pandemic.

In September 1918, a doctor stationed at Camp Devens, a military base located near Boston, Massachusetts, wrote a letter to a colleague:

Read more…

EMS: A Critical Partner in Successful Community Disaster Planning and Response

Author: Richard Hunt, MD Senior Medical Advisor, National Health Care Preparedness Programs, ASPR and John Hick, MD, Deputy Chief EMS Medical Director, Hennepin County Medical Center
Published Date: 5/21/2018 11:43:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness; National Health Security;

During EMS Week, we want to draw attention to the vital role EMS plays in disaster healthcare and salute our Emergency Medical Services colleagues nationwide. We know that across the country, our EMS colleagues work on the frontlines of health, providing lifesaving services every day, even on the worst days in your communities. EMS is the first point of contact with medical services for millions of Americans, and with every call EMS professionals put years of training and education to use to make a difference. Your care saves lives.

All too frequently, EMS must respond not j  Read more…

Healthcare Response to a No-notice Incident: Lessons Learned from Las Vegas Festival Shooting

Author: Melissa Harvey, RN, MSPH, Director of the Division of National Healthcare Preparedness Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 4/24/2018 3:48:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

On October 1, 2017, during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip, a gunman opened fired from the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel on the crowd of concertgoers. He fired more than 1,100 rounds leaving 59 dead and 527 injured.

Recently, ASPR staff spoke with responding agencies from the Las Vegas shooting to help identify lessons learned that can help other communities, specifically members of the nation’s 476 health care c  Read more…

Hospital Preparedness Program: Celebrating 15 Years of Health Care Preparedness and Response

Author: Melissa Harvey, RN, MSPH, Director of the Division of National Healthcare Preparedness Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 4/16/2018 11:38:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

Whether from devastating hurricanes, terrorist attacks, or deadly disease outbreaks, the United States regularly faces crises that threaten the health and safety of Americans. Saving lives during these events requires thorough planning and dedicated coordination to ensure the nation’s health care system is ready when disaster strikes.

Health care readiness is at the heart of ASPR’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). As the only source of federal funding to prepare the nation’s mostly private healt  Read more…

Texas Moves Full-Speed Ahead to Implement Health and Social Service Projects to Improve Resilience and Build Sustainability

Author: C. Kaleinani Lau, MPH, Field Coordinator, Health and Social Services Recovery Support Function (RSF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Public Health Analyst, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Primary Health Care
Published Date: 3/19/2018 4:48:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

More than six months after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Texas is still recovering. But, with so many people and organizations in need of help, where is the best way for the state of Texas and its partners to focus their health and social services recovery efforts?

Six teams of recovery specialists, led by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, worked with representatives from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of State Health Services to identify projects as a part of the Read more…

Fighting microscopic threats through international collaboration: Health ministers use lessons learned from the 1918 influenza pandemic to strengthen pandemic preparedness and global health security

Author: Division of International Heath Security
Published Date: 3/19/2018 4:37:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Observances; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

One hundred years ago, the 1918 influenza pandemic caused massive devastation, ultimately infecting over 500 million people and killing between 50 and 100 million individuals worldwide. During recent outbreaks of influenza, Ebola, and other emerging infectious diseases, we have learned how critical collaboration among countries and international organizations is for an expedited and more effective response. Working together with our partners to strengthen global health security is crucial to protect Americans from pandemics and other health security threats despite whether they sta  Read more…

Lessons from Fukushima: New guide provides answers to save lives and improve emergency medical response

Author: John F. Koerner, MPH, CIH, Senior Special Advisor - Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High-Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Science and Operations, HHS ASPR Immediate Office
Published Date: 3/12/2018 2:22:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Innovations; Exercises & Trainings; Hospital Preparedness; National Health Security; Response & Recovery;

Quick questions: A nuclear incident has occurred in your community and people are going to come to you for help. Do you know which medical issues you should focus on first? Or which steps need to be taken immediately after an incident to best protect the public? Or what resources might be available to help?

Before you answer “no” to any of those questions, download a copy of the newly released Decision Maker’s Guide: Medical Planning and Response for a Nuclear Detonation.

An e  Read more…

ASPR’s New Vision for a Regional Disaster Health Response System Will Help Prepare Nation for 21st Century Health Security Threats

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 2/15/2018 5:45:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

Early this week, I had the opportunity to discuss with colleagues at the University of Maryland Medical Center-Shock Trauma the concept of a regional disaster health response system that is capable of responding more effectively and efficiently to the ever-increasing array of 21st century health security threats.

  Read more…

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