Public Health Toolkits

CHHS Addresses Legal Issues Surrounding Public Health Response with Toolkits

CHHS, working with the Olson Group, recently completed two public health toolkits for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). The goal of this project was to create public health toolkits that identified legal barriers and frameworks for common public health issues to help state leaders and public health officials improve their understanding of and ability to respond to common issues encountered in emergency public health response.

Based on an extensive review of existing laws and best practices, CHHS developed issue briefs for the toolkits that discussed legal and policy issues related to altered standards of care and emergency drug shortages. CHHS reviewed federal and state statutes, regulations, emergency health policies, emergency plans, and case studies to inform the issue briefs, which addressed a multitude of topics, including: legal modifications to the standard of care; prioritization and allocation of scarce resources during an emergency; accessing and distributing pharmaceutical caches; and addressing security issues during an emergency drug shortage, among others.

The issue briefs identified key legal frameworks in place at the federal and state level, such as federal disaster assistance statutes and state laws related to emergency declarations, which may provide mechanisms for state and public health officials to use in public health emergency response. In addition, the briefs identified potential challenges and legal barriers that may limit the way in which officials can respond in certain events. Where current laws did not regulate a specific topic, CHHS relied extensively on best practices and other policy guidance to inform its discussion of these two topics.

CHHS’ involvement with the ASTHO public health toolkits demonstrates the Center’s experience with public health research and its ability to provide in-depth legal and policy analysis. Through this experience, CHHS has helped to create comprehensive toolkits that are accessible to a wide audience of state officials, health authorities, and medical practitioners.


This text is taken from the CHHS Fall 2013 Newsletter.

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