Are We Prepared for the Next Infectious Disease?


A paper by Robert Campbell, CEO/President, Alliance Solutions Group, USA

With the emergence of Ebola impacting countries beyond West Africa, global health security became more relevant throughout the world in 2014. There have been over 20,000 cases and 7,800 deaths affecting 9 countries, making this Ebola outbreak the most widespread and deadly. As new cases emerged in countries outside of West Africa, our team of medical and technical analysts captured 31 distinct and broadly-applicable lessons learned through first-hand interviews with responders, emergency managers and healthcare workers on the front lines. By analyzing trends and issues related to the local, national and global response, this presentation will clarify the top challenges to resilience from infectious disease threats. Second, it identifies solutions to these challenges based on best practices and root cause analysis. Finally, as 2015 commences, we are observing the re-emergence of several influenza strains, coronavirus and proliferation of Chikungunya in the Americas. As we have witnessed with Ebola, a successful response to infectious diseases requires community-wide preparedness. This presentation summarizes the essential elements for infectious disease preparedness through the lens of lessons learned from Ebola.

This analysis identified nine areas requiring attention in order to improve public health preparedness which are applicable to the full spectrum of CBRN threats. The presenter will share the 31 lessons learned across these nine areas, but will focus on addressing the challenges related to the top three areas: crisis communication, incident management and first receiver preparedness which are directly applicable to CBRN preparedness. As several Ebola cases unfolded in the United States, public health departments and healthcare organizations scrambled to become prepared amidst evolving guidance from federal agencies. Press conferences revealed uncoordinated messages and problems in crisis communication. This added to confusion, concern and psychological malaise of the public in their community’s preparedness. The outdated systems used by emergency managers lacked the ability to collaborate affectively among the myriad of response agencies. This compounded their inability deliver timely, effective and coordinated messages.

During public health emergencies, it is important that public health officials take command of the situation and lead the response. The recent Ebola outbreak and subsequent response has been extremely complex with the multitude of agencies directly involved in response operations. The National Response Framework and National Incident Management System were established to address these types of responses. Unfortunately, some of these incident management systems were not utilized to the extent necessary.

First receiver preparedness and an adequate infection control program are essential elements in combatting infectious diseases. It is evident from the global response that medical first receivers lacked the plans, procedures, protective equipment and training needed to safely perform their duties. Additionally, approximately 50% of US hospitals inspected by the Joint Commission International lacked adequate infection control programs. As we witnessed nurses and healthcare organizations debate the adequacy and responsibility for training through the media, it was clear that better guidance and more training was needed.

Preparedness for infectious disease threats requires a whole community approach. This cannot be left to first responders, first receivers and emergency managers. It requires collaborative planning, risk-based analysis, equipment sets tailored for the community, integrated and realistic training, and exercises to validate the capabilities. This presentation will elaborate on and provide specific examples for these essential elements that comprise the preparedness cycle. Finally, preparedness for emerging and uncertain threats requires organizations and communities that are designed to succeed. It is only through collaborative application of the preparedness cycle among response agencies that a community will be prepared.

Please access the Full Paper by clicking on the following link: Campbell – NCT CBRNe USA 2015

The Full Paper by Campbell will be presented during NCT CBRNe USA Innovation Stream, taking place from April 29 to May 1.


Join us in NCT CBRNe USA 2015 to learn and discuss about this paper and other innovative ideas by registering now!


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