NACCHO outlines supportive role of local health departments

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) recently released an outline detailing how local health system coalitions have been beneficial to the effort to combat the Ebola virus.

In the outline they explained the nature of grant funds that are granted by the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) that is within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and that these funds support state healthcare coalitions (HCC). In the Ebola epidemic, local health teams alongside healthcare organizations have taken part in the preparation and training exercises.

These HCCs are supporting hospitals and health departments in the preparation of personnel to be able to care for patients with Ebola or similar viruses.

The National Healthcare Resource Center held webinars discussing the roles that HCCs play in preparedness and response to emerging diseases. Coalition partners with the Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department in Minnesota worked together to educate the county's community that has roots to Liberia. In this they partnered with the Minnesota African Taskforce Against Ebola and held seminars that covered the disease and how it is spread. The county has, according to the NACHO report, one of the largest populations from Liberia outside of Africa.

They report that coalitions need to find sustainability methods. There was a recent cut from HPP of $100 million with a law that was signed by President Barack Obama. NACCHO predicts that cuts such as this will prevent HPP and the coalitions that are supported through that program from continuing preparedness and response support unless sustained funding is found.

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