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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

National Health Security Strategy Overview

Every four years, HHS ASPR develops the National Health Security Strategy (NHSS)​ to establish a strategic approach to enhance the security of the nation’s health in times of crisis. The 2019-2022 NHSS provides a vision to strengthen our nation’s ability to prevent, detect, assess, prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from disasters and emergencies, including strategies to improve readiness and adapt operational capabilities to address new and evolving threats. 

Protecting America from 21st Century Health Security Threats

Our nation faces diverse and evolving health security threats that have the potential to disrupt our public health and health care systems and cause loss of life.

  • Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe. Multiple devastating events can occur in a short time frame, further exposing vulnerabilities within our health infrastructure.
  • A CBRN incident can cause mass casualties and fatalities, and damage infrastructure, the environment, and the economy. Intentional attacks such as the large-scale release of a biological agent would stress the public health and health care system in extraordinary ways.
  • Infectious diseases with pandemic potential continue to emerge globally and span international borders. The risk of infectious diseases are increased further by the growing resistance to antibiotics.
  • As health care continues to depend on technology, cyber threats can potentially disrupt medical devices.
  • Positive advances in biotechnology can also be misused to cause harm.
A mock patient is being transported from the aircraft to an ambulance destined for the Regional Ebola and Other Special Pathogen Treatment Center at the University of Minnesota Medical Center as part of the Tranquil Shift exercise.


National Health Security Objectives

The NHSS is focused on three overarching objectives: 1) prepare, mobilize, and coordinate a whole-of-government approach; 2) protect the nation from the health effects of emerging and pandemic infectious diseases and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats; and 3) leverage the capabilities of the private sector.

Prepare, mobilize, and coordinate a whole-of-government approach

Achieving national health security requires strong collaboration and leadership among all stakeholders, including federal and SLTT governments, public and private partners, non-governmental organizations, academia, professional associations, communities, volunteers, families, and individuals.

Strategic public-private partnerships will expand capabilities, quickly mobilize resources, and protect the nation from incidents that result in serious health consequences.

This approach can build on efforts to bridge health care, public health, and emergency management to create a more integrated, networked, and resilient system.

Responders from the National Disaster Medical System look at an x-ray in a temporary medical facility in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.


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

Our nation faces evolving threats to health security from pandemics, infectious diseases and CBRN agents.  The NHSS establishes approaches  to protect people from the threats posed by terrorists, adversaries, and nature.

Under the NHSS, all levels of government and our partners have important roles to play to improve the nation’s ability to actively respond to and recover from 21st century threats and reduce illness, injury, and loss of life to first responders and victims.  Using this approach, we will deepen interoperability; support and sustain a robust and reliable public health security capacity; accelerate the development and availability of new medical countermeasures; address 21st century threats; and ensure the effective and rapid dissemination of medical countermeasures.

Leverage the Capabilities of the Private Sector

As health threats evolve, the way governments and stakeholders work together must evolve as well. Protecting the nation from 21st century health security threats takes a clear strategic direction and a host of strong partners. 

Together, we can strengthen U.S. public health and health care systems to confront serious threats.  Under the NHSS, we will develop partnerships to create medical countermeasures; foster a resilient medical product supply chain; incentivize preparedness; and increase efficiencies.

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  • This page last reviewed: January 15, 2019