Hawaii State Health Department Receives Federal Funds to Strengthen Emergency Preparedness

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has been awarded $5,260,290 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the federal Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program. Award funding supports efforts to strengthen DOH public health emergency preparedness, including increased capacity in the areas of laboratory testing, disease surveillance and investigation, enhanced infrastructure, public information and warning, community preparedness, and other capabilities.

“Whether it’s preparing for natural disasters or disease outbreaks, the DOH is always working on protecting the public’s health and safety,” noted Health Director Loretta Fuddy. “An investment in emergency preparedness is an investment in the well-being of the people of Hawaiʻi. This federal award will help us do even more to be ready for challenges that might face us.”

The PHEP program supports state, local, and territorial health departments in achieving public health preparedness capabilities to ensure safer and more resilient communities. PHEP also carries out development and training and exercises to test plan effectiveness within DOH as well as with external organizations and agencies.

Utilizing an all-hazards approach, DOH PHEP planning and training cover a wide range of preparedness measures including food safety defense, rapid detection, identification of and response to threat agents and toxins, bioterrorism preparedness, robust interoperable communications, effective emergency public notification and alerts, and the ability to quickly and securely receive and dispense critical medication and supplies to the entire state population.

“Our preparedness efforts have made a great deal of progress over the years,” said Dr. Sarah Park, DOH State Epidemiologist and PHEP director. “However, we recognize that constant improvement is required because the roles and responsibilities of public health continue to evolve and increase, even as funding and resources fluctuate yearly.”

The PHEP program recently released a 10-Year Summary Report outlining accomplishments, goals, and challenges in public health emergency preparedness in Hawaii over the past decade.

The report is available online at http://hawaii.gov/health/BT/10yrSummaryReportFINAL2a.pdf.

September is National Preparedness Month, and the DOH encourages everyone to do their part to be ready for emergencies: “Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.”

For more information on the DOH PHEP program, go to http://hawaii.gov/health/BT/index.html. For more on the CDC PHEP cooperative agreement, see http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/coopagreement.htm.

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