Emergency Preparedness and Response
Protecting the public’s health historically has been a state and local responsibility. However, the growing threat of bioterrorism has highlighted the importance of a strong public health infrastructure to the nation’s homeland security and has focused increased attention on the preparedness of the public health system (Frist, 2011). Since the 2001 anthrax attacks Congress has passed new legislation to increase the strength of the nation’s public health system thus the funding has also rapidly increased to meet the potential demand. There is an ongoing debate however, as to what level of contribution local, state, and federal agency’s feel is an appropriate level of ongoing public health investments. A bioterrorism event will emphasize existing doubts in the delivery of the public health system. The critical choice for public health authorities at the local, state, and federal is not to decide where the power to protect the public health lies but rather where the leadership to respond to a bioterrorism event will originate. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is assigned the duty of monitoring, assessing, and following up on people’s health during a bioterrorist attack they are responsible for ensuring the safety of workers responding to an incident, that the food supply is safe, and providing medical, public health, and mental/behavioral health advice. HHS has primary responsibility for federal public health and medical response in a bioterrorist incident because response and recovery efforts will rely on public health and medical emergency response. The Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness will coordinate responses with DHS and other federal and state agencies from the Secretary’s Operations Center. HHS will coordinate the federal public health and medical response to a bioterror attack. The basic functions of the federal, state, and local level during an Anthrax bioterrorism...
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