Public Health Preparedness: Are We Ready for Disaster?

August 15, 2013

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent anthrax assaults, the federal government began to reevaluate the nation’s preparedness for public health emergencies. Since then, the nation has been hit by massive floods, hurricanes and other disasters, and last year Hurricane Sandy swept up the east coast, crippling several states and nearly exhausting emergency services.

Despite the continued need for a strong emergency response infrastructure to combat natural disasters, reemerging diseases, pandemics and food-borne illnesses, state health department budgets have been shrinking.

What is the nation’s state of preparedness for public health emergencies? What are the consequences of continued budget cuts to local and state health departments? Is the nation prepared for future disasters at both the federal and local level? What resources do we need to be adequately prepared? What can we learn from past emergencies, such as the recent Hurricane Sandy, to be more prepared in the future?

A distinguished panel of experts addressed these and related questions.

Ali Khan, director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provided an overview of the state of emergency preparedness at the federal level.

Jack Herrmann, senior advisor and chief of public health preparedness at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, explained how local health departments are coping with budget reductions.

Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, described the group’s emergency preparedness initiative. Ed Howard of the Alliance and John Lumpkin of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will co-moderate the discussion.

Rosanne Prats, executive director, Emergency Preparedness Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, described how the state of Louisiana has dealt with past emergencies and what they have learned from those experiences.

Ed Howard of the Alliance and John Lumpkin of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation co-moderated.

Contact: Erin Buchanan 202/789-2300

The event was sponsored by the nonpartisan Alliance for Health Reform and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Transcript and Video

Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Speaker Presentations

Ali Khan Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Georges Benjamin Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Jack Herrmann Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Event Details

Agenda (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Event Resources