What has been going on across the country with regards to local health departments, public health services, and biosurveillance programs? Here's a quick update based on information being disseminated by the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO).
On July 31, 2012, the White House released "The National Strategy for Biosurveillance", promoting a all-nation-wide approach that brings together federal, state, local, and tribal governments; the private sector; non-governmental organizations; and international partners to identify and understand threats as early as possible and provide accurate and timely information to support life-saving responses. See http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/National_Strategy_for_Biosurveillance_July_2012.pdf
Biosurveillance is a process of gathering, integrating, interpreting, and communicating essential information that might relate to disease activity and threats to human, animal, or plant health. For the public health professional, biosurveillance activities range from standard epidemiological practices to advanced technological systems, utilizing complex algorithms. Check out the CDC BioSense Program at http://www.cdc.gov/biosense/
It is important for local health officials to have a heightened awareness of biosurveillance programs at the federal, state, and local levels in order to respond appropriately when the need arises. NACCHO supports local biosurveillance efforts by sharing critical information regarding systems, practices, and resources that will enhance the local health department's ability to detect and prevent the spread of disease in an effective and timely manner.
Unfortunately, since 2008, over 34,000 local health department jobs have been eliminated across the U.S. due to budget cuts. As a result, local health departments (LHDs) have been forced to make tough decisions about cutting jobs and public health services as they continue to keep their communities healthy and protected from public health emergencies. See http://naccho.org/press/
The question is - How safe are we in the U.S. given the major cuts that have taken place with regards to public health at the local level?
For more information about NACCHO & Biosurveillance, go to http://naccho.org/topics/emergency/biosurveillance/index.cfm
For more information and news about public health and biosurveillance software, tools & resources, visit http://www.openhealthnews.com/resources/health-it-category/public-health