HHS lays out plan for managing large-scale health emergencies

In response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unveiled Thursday a detailed plan for dealing with similar situations in the future. 

The plan, The National Health Security Strategy, is HHS' first comprehensive strategy for protecting the public's health during a large-scale emergency. It outlines 10 objectives aimed at maintaining health security in times of crisis, including:  

  • Ensuring that situational awareness so responders are aware of changes in an emergency situation
  • Fostering integrated, health care delivery systems that can respond to a disaster of any size
  • Ensuring timely and effective communications
  • Promoting an effective countermeasures enterprise, which is a process to develop, buy and distribute medical countermeasures
  • Ensuring prevention or mitigation of environmental and other emerging threats to health
  • Incorporating post-incident health recovery into planning and response.

"As we've learned in the response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, responsibility for improving our nation's ability to address existing and emerging health threats must be broadly shared by everyone--governments, communities, families, and individuals," Sebelius said. Hence, HHS' strategy also outlines specific actions for federal and state governments.

First up: The federal government must improve how it develops and delivers medications, vaccines, supplies and equipment during health emergencies.

"The National Health Security Strategy is a call to action for each of us so that every community becomes fully prepared and ready to recover quickly after an emergency," Sebelius said.

To learn more:
- read this press release
- read over the actual plan