RealNews

New Initiative Will Improve Bioterrorism Preparedness of Health Workforce

Congress has asked the nation’s bioterrorism experts to target new mechanisms to increase the level of preparedness for the health workforce. Vaccines, drugs, diagnostic devices and medical surveillance are all crucial tools in the fight against bioterrorism and emerging infectious disease, but experts say these are not enough. Until now, preparedness efforts have focused primarily on material solutions such as protective gear and information analysis; there has been much less emphasis on training the health workforce who will use this equipment. Now the Association of Academic Health Centers (AHC) will collaborate with Michael Hopmeier, a counterterrorism expert, to operate the Healthcare Incentivization Working Group (HIWG), which will work with academic health centers and public health systems to defray the tremendous costs of preparedness training for the workforce. The AHC will assume leadership for the HIWG, which Hopmeier will chair and which will reconvene soon. Hopmeier said, “Our goal is to identify opportunities to assist our delivery system in preparing for disasters and responding to homeland security issues. In the final analysis, well trained, highly motivated people are irreplaceable.” Roger J. Bulger, MD, president of the AHC, explained the importance of collaborative work by his 100-plus member institutions, “For too many academic health centers, biodefense activities constitute an unfunded mandate.” Full Story

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