APHL: Engaging for change in emergency diagnostics

APHL: Engaging for change in emergency diagnostics | www.APHLblog.org

The process for developing and deploying emergency diagnostics to laboratories nationwide will now be more efficient. A new entity, the Tri-Agency Task Force for Emergency Diagnostics, has brought together representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to coordinate systems for rapid delivery of tests, reagents and guidance to public health and clinical laboratories.

APHL contributed to the development of the Task Force by communicating the potential value of such a mechanism. Beginning in the early months of the 2016 Zika pandemic and continuing long after, the association and its member laboratories engaged federal partners in a dialog around systems for cross-agency coordination of emergency diagnostics.

“The federal partners recognized that instead of relying on APHL to coordinate communications during a crisis, having a more permanent solution in place would be more effective,” explains Peter Kyriacopoulos, senior director of public policy at APHL. “With CDC taking the lead, the Tri-Agency Task Force for Emergency Diagnostics has been established. Whenever the next disease comes along, this group will be ready to get to work.”

Kelly Wroblewski, APHL’s infectious disease director, adds that the Task Force makes communication more routine. “Having communication channels already open will make it easier to get the response going as quickly and efficiently as possible,” she says.

Since 2016, the threat of Zika has subsided. In 2017 and 2018, there wasn’t another outbreak, but Zika will likely come back. But this time, the public health community will be ready.

“With the Tri-Agency Task Force in place, we’re much better off than we were in 2016,” says Kyriacopoulos. “Other improvements, like more efficient ways to send data electronically, are still needed. But the systems we had and the new ones we’ve introduced have strengthened communication and coordination.”

The post APHL: Engaging for change in emergency diagnostics appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.

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Lab Culture Ep. 1: Critical Consequences

Lab Culture Ep. 1: Critical Consequences | www.APHLblog.org

Did you know that the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) includes critical public health funding? What would the repeal of the ACA mean for public health? Peter Kyriacopoulos, APHL’s senior director of public policy, talks about the CDC-managed Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases (ELC) program, a source of crosscutting support for public health laboratories funded under the ACA through the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF).

Download or stream APHL’s new podcast, Lab Culture, Ep. 1: Critical Consequences.


ELC Program: Essential Funding for Public Health Lab Response (APHL.org)

Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases (ELC) Cooperative Agreement (CDC.gov)

Critical Public Health Fund Would Be Lost With ACA Repeal

Find your State or Territorial Health Official

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Peter Kyriacopoulos on Twitter


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The post Lab Culture Ep. 1: Critical Consequences appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.

Preparing for Emergencies: A Legal Perspective

Midsection of male judge signing contract paper at desk

Whether it’s taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle, preventing diseases, or preparing for an emergency or natural disaster, public law is an important tool to promote and protect public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Law Program (PHLP) develops legal tools and provides technical assistance to public health colleagues and policymakers to help keep their communities safer and healthier.

Emergency preparedness is one of the most important topics PHLP covers. Most emergency response systems are based on laws that regulate when and how state, tribal, local, territorial, and federal entities can engage in an emergency response. The legal nuances are often complicated and easy to miss. PHLP offers resources and training to empower state, tribal, local, and territorial communities to better understand, prepare, and respond to public health emergencies. Together, public health and public health law can protect people from harm and help communities better prepare for disasters.

For the past 16 years, PHLP has helped public health practitioners respond quickly—and with the right legal resources—in times of crisis. PHLP’s work can be divided into two main areas: PHLP’s research initiative and the program’s workforce development activities. Through its research initiative, PHLP conducts legal research using legal epidemiology research principles. PHLP’s research looks at various critical issues to interpret how the law plays a role in diseases and injuries affecting the entire country, and examines specific topics in state and local jurisdictions.

Gregory Sunshine presenting at a CDC TedMed talk
Gregory Sunshine, JD, a legal analyst at CDC, describes the role the agency plays in our public health and legal systems and explains how this affected state Ebola monitoring and movement protocols.

PHLP’s training helps health officials learn what they need to know to prepare for an emergency and what the law allows. In 2015, staff went on a legal preparedness “roadshow,” training more than 500 people in 11 different states in just a few short months. This training showed participants how to recognize legal issues that arise during public health emergencies, offered tools for planning and implementing effective law-based strategies during an emergency, and provided an opportunity to exercise their knowledge through a fictional response scenario.

PHLP also offers emergency response support for specific emergencies. During a public health emergency, such as the Ebola epidemic, PHLP helps partners use the law to stay ahead of quickly evolving situations. After the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in the United States on October 11, 2014, enhanced entry screening was implemented in five airports, which is allowed by law to protect Americans’ health. The enhanced entry screening was implemented to help identify and monitor travelers from countries with Ebola outbreaks who could have been exposed to the disease or who had signs or symptoms of Ebola.

Stakeholders were concerned that variations in how each state monitored and controlled the movement of travelers from countries with Ebola outbreaks could cause confusion, so PHLP staff published the State Ebola Screening and Monitoring Policies on its website so travelers could access them in one easy location. This information helped people who were considering working in West Africa understand what the requirements might be after they returned home. Similar to what was done during the Ebola outbreak, the program recently published an analysis of emergency declarations and orders related to the West Nile virus as part of CDC’s response to the 2016 Zika outbreak.

PHLP helps public health partners across America answer legal questions on many emergency preparedness and response topics. Through legal research, trainings, and publishing of the latest information, PHLP is always ready to help their partners understand how to use law to protect the health and safety of the public. People interested in learning more about PHLP can visit PHLP’s website. For regular updates on public health law topics, including legal preparedness, subscribe to CDC’s Public Health Law News.

Link to TedMed Video: http://www.cdc.gov/phlp/videos/tedmed-ebola.html


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