Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Letter to the Editor: Social Determinants of Community Preparedness and Resiliency

Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Letter to the Editor: Social Determinants of Community Preparedness and Resiliency

Article excerpt

Understanding the social determinants of community health is frequently discussed these days in public health circles as a means for constructing effective and long-term preventive strategies associated with reduction of acute and chronic disease and injury within a population. Identification of what is often referred to as the "upstream" or root causes of illness as well as population health disparities can be found through careful examination of how income, race and education influence community health patterns, behavior and outcomes. This approach truly embodies the philosophy of prevention that is the foundation of modern public health practice as well as in the discipline of emergency management.

It is well known that health conditions in populations pose special challenges to emergency management planning and response. Some of these are being met with renewed attention to functional needs and behavioral health dimensions of preparedness planning such as pre-assessment of populations including engagement or partnerships with various faith-based, community and social service agencies. However, the current planning paradigm does not sufficiently recognize or account for other unique cultural and social facets of a community that are integral to its successful preparation for and response to a catastrophic incident as well as achieving a high level of resiliency. The result, as we have seen with Katrina, are inefficient and less than robust response and recovery efforts that failed to consider and incorporate the underlying socio-environmental dynamics of a region into a cogent and successful strategic plan. …

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