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Our Latest News and Events.
-- NCDMPH Attends Congressional Briefing on Outbreaks --
This week, NCDMPH staff attended a Congressional briefing on a new report by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation titled Outbreaks: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases . Speakers at the briefing included: Jeffrey Levi, PhD, Executive Director, Trust for America’s Health (TFAH); Paul Kuehnert, DNP, RN, Director, Bridging Health and Health Care, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF); and Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH , Executive Director, Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services (HCPHES).
The speakers discussed a wide range of issues during the briefing. Topics spoken about included the overall findings of the report, such as the key finding that recent outbreaks have exposed serious underlying gaps in the nation’s ability to manage severe infectious disease threats, institutional reforms that could help improve preparedness and fill those gaps, and personal experience regarding these issues and how to solve them at the state, local, and federal level. All agreed on the key point that more sustained funding and resources are needed at the foundational level, with a response infrastructure in place prior to any emergency, as opposed to funding and resources that appear during an emergency, are not fully prepared, and disappear post-crisis.
It was a very insightful and informative briefing, and NCDMPH looks forward to continuing our work towards a more prepared nation with TFAH, RWJF, and HCPHES in the future.
February 4th 2015
-- 2014 Was the Hottest Year on Record --
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, announced this week that 2014 was the hottest year on record worldwide. Average temperatures over land and sea surface in 2014 were over a degree higher than the long term average of 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit. While it may still be cold across much of the United States right now, warmer weather will be here before you know it. And the best time to get prepared for summer heat and possible heat related emergencies is now.
Heat can be just as dangerous as more heavily publicized natural disasters such as tornadoes, lightning, floods, and earthquakes. In an average year, around 175 Americans die due to the effects of summer heat. In order to help people prepare to beat the heat, the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health will soon be releasing extreme heat resources as part of our Resilience Through Learning series. The pages will have resources to help make sure people are ready before, during, and after any dangerous heat events. The page will be launching soon, so please check our Facebook and Twitter feeds often for more information about this exciting new content!
January 28th 2015
-- WHO to Introduce Crisis Management Reforms --
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Sunday that it will introduce reforms intended to strengthen the agency’s ability to respond to and contain health emergencies worldwide. A resolution aimed at overhauling the organization’s ability to respond to outbreaks and other health emergencies was unanimously endorsed by the 34 representatives of the WHO executive board.
The WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations concerned with international public health. In addition to its work preventing communicable diseases, such as the eradication of smallpox and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and others, the WHO responds to any sort of disaster or emergency around the world in order to reduce any consequences the event may have on world health. The resolution passed on Sunday aims to strengthen that emergency response ability by creating a global cadre of emergency public health workers, the establishment of an emergency fund that could be tapped quickly, and increase support for the development of vaccines and treatments for emerging infectious diseases.
The proposed reforms will now go before the full World Health Assembly, made up of the 194 member countries of the WHO, for consideration at the body’s annual meeting in May.
January 20th 2015
-- Measles Outbreak Stresses Importance of Vaccines --
A measles outbreak is sickening dozens in the western United States and Mexico, and the highly dangerous and contagious disease continues to spread. The number of cases linked to the outbreak was at 52 as of Monday, January 19, with Orange County, California the hardest hit. Cases have also been found in the California counties of San Diego, Los Angeles, Alameda, Ventura, Riverside, Long Beach, San Bernardino, and Pasadena, as well as in Utah, Washington, Colorado, and across the border in Mexico.
Measles is very infectious, potentially deadly disease, and can be especially severe in babies and toddlers. A highly effective and safe vaccine was introduced in the United States in 1963, and the disease was considered largely eliminated in the United States by 2000. But 2014 saw the largest number of cases in the United States since 2000, with 23 outbreaks resulting in 644 cases in 27 states.
The best way to prevent future outbreaks of measles and other contagious diseases is to make sure everyone is vaccinated. People who are not vaccinated put themselves and the community around them at risk. If you have young children, or you yourself have not been vaccinated, for measles or any other vaccine preventable disease, please speak to a physician about receiving immunizations today.
January 13th 2015
-- 5 year Anniversary of Haiti Earthquake --
This past weekend marked the 5-year anniversary of the January 12, 2010 magnitude 7.0 earthquake which struck Haiti, leaving over 200,000 people dead, 300,000 people injured, and well over 1 million people displaced from their homes. Five years later, the country still has not fully recovered, with thousands of people still living in displacement camps, piles of rubble all over the country, and lingering public health issues such as a cholera outbreak that is still infecting thousands of people each year. The catastrophe unleashed an unprecedented amount of aid - over 13 billion dollars from other donor nations and private charities - but the recovery process is still far from complete.
This anniversary is a chance for everyone to remember that there is no wrong time to prepare for a disaster. While we may not be able to predict or prevent all disasters, we can still be ready when they strike. Whether in Haiti, the United States, or anywhere in the world being prepared for all types of disasters can help reduce damage and speed up recovery time.
NCDMPH is proud to have supported, and to continue to support, Haitians on their long road to recovery. For more information about earthquakes in general, please visit our Resilience through Learning - Earthquakes page. If you would like to learn more about the ongoing recovery process in Haiti, and how you can help, please visit the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Haitian Earthquake Overview page.
January 7th 2015
-- NCDMPH Launches New Influenza Page --
The National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH) recently created a new page: Resilience Through Learning - Influenza, with resources relevant to protecting people from and preventing the spread of seasonal influenza during an already severe 2014-2015 flu season. The page is part of the NCDMPH Resilience Through Learning series, which provides NCDMPH and outside resources centered on specific all-hazards events. Other disaster types in the series include Winter Weather, Wildfires, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Tornadoes, and Explosions & Mass Gatherings.
The page includes resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), among others. Information on the page is relevant to both the current flu season and influenza in general, and has links to specifics about flu prevention, flu treatment, and public health impacts of the flu.
Visit our Influenza page for more information, and remember, it’s not too late to get your flu shot today!