The unexpected outbreaks of Ebola in 2014 and the Zika virus in 2015-16, among others, highlighted the need for states to prepare for all hazards, not just natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The pervasive threat of infectious disease and the more insidious threat of bioterrorism require that public health, emergency management and homeland security professionals work collaboratively to develop preparedness plans and strategies.
The NGA Center, in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, has worked to raise awareness among governors of the threat of public health emergencies; to identify state priorities for enhancing public health preparedness and to encourage regional approaches through which states can work collaboratively to share resources and expertise before, during and after a public health emergency.
The NGA Center assists governors and their staffs by:
- Providing technical assistance and consultation to states as they design and implement new programs and policies to prevent, prepare for and respond to public health threats;
- Synthesizing and disseminating information on state best practices in the area of public health preparedness;
- Sponsoring workshops, conference calls, and policy forums for governors’ homeland security advisors, state health officials, emergency managers and others to discuss challenges, obstacles, and effective solutions;
- Supporting the development of regional strategies for bioterrorism prevention, preparedness and response; and
- Encouraging the integration of public health into homeland security plans, strategies, and activities.