An independent panel of public health, emergency response and communication experts issued a report on Friday on the Ebola epidemic of 2014, identifying recommendations to improve the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) response to urgent public health threats.
Concerns highlighted in the report include the lack of guidance for coordinating efforts from the government for both domestic and international responses, the lack of implementation of coordinated structures of the National Response Framework, and lack of pandemic plans from HHS that ultimately hindered communication between key agencies.
The report concluded that HHS is not configured or funded to rapidly respond to a prolonged public health or medical emergency overseas or at home.
Taking into account all of the concerns that the panel discussed, HHS issued the Ebola Response Improvement Plan, which cites the need to improve access to sufficient response funding.
Key recommendations made in the report include pre-identifying facilities that HHS can use for quarantine, isolation and treatment; developing a mechanism to coordinate the purchase and distribution of medical countermeasures by federal partners; and leveraging the quarterly meetings sponsored by the National Healthcare Preparedness Programs with their local public health awardees to outline an effective outreach plan to delineate the role of government and public health agencies during an infectious disease response.