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Disaster Research Response Efforts

Disaster Research Response Efforts

Disaster Research Response Efforts

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and other agencies that make up the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are set up to immediately respond and protect the health of our nation during disasters and other emergencies. They also need to be able to rapidly perform critical health research at the same time.

During a disaster, data needs to be gathered as soon as possible, often under difficult circumstances.

Building on lessons learned from previous disaster response efforts, including World Trade Center attack, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and the Gulf oil spill, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Library of Medicine, and other HHS agencies, have established the NIH Disaster Research Response Program to enhance the timely collection of human data during disasters.

This program includes ready-to-go research data collection tools, research protocols, and a network of trained responders. These tools will help promote the timely gathering of environmental and toxicology data that is needed to compliment the health information collected during a disaster response.

Institute of Medicine Reports

A report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on November 14, 2014, Enabling Rapid and Sustainable Public Health Research During Disasters, provides a summary of research issues and opportunities in this important area. The report highlights discussions among 230 federal, state, academia, non-governmental organizations, emergency responders, and private sector at a workshop this summer.

Another IOM report, Research Priorities to Inform Public Health and Medical Practice for Ebola Virus Disease, also released in November 2014 highlights recent discussions about research that could be conducted under real-world conditions (i.e., during an event) that would provide public health officials and the general public with additional accurate information about virus transmission, mitigation of health risks, and appropriate measures to prevent the spread of disease.

These reports and ongoing activities set the stage for creating a system that allows for timely human health research during a disaster that will improve human health in the future.

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