Health + Behavior

U.S. needs greater preparation for severe public health threats

Important lessons learned from the response to Ebola could improve our response to Zika, report says

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Dr. Jonathan Fielding
UCLA
Dr. Jonathan Fielding

In a report released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an independent panel formed to review the department’s response to Ebola made several recommendations on how the nation’s federal public health system should strengthen its response to major public health threats.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, distinguished professor of public health and pediatrics at UCLA, chaired the panel, whose report called for increased coordination both within HHS and across federal agencies. It also recommends strengthened coordination and collaboration with state and local governments and their private-sector partners. The panel’s recommendations emphasize the critical need for constant focus and ongoing funding for preparedness and response necessary to change systems and policy if the United States is to be sufficiently prepared for public health crises.

Though more than 11,000 people lost their lives during the Ebola outbreak that affected West African nations from 2014 to 2016, it could have been worse had HHS and international organizations not responded in force, Fielding said.

“Yet it’s critical that we better prepare our nation for the ever-looming threats to the health of our U.S. and global communities,” Fielding said. “Without focused and sustained effort, the result of other novel public health threats could be much more devastating.”

Read the full news release.

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