Natural Disasters and Pandemics
Hawaii is susceptible to a number of natural disasters, including hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, and other emergencies. The Public Health Preparedness Branch (PHP) is tasked with promoting and supporting emergency preparedness in order to protect the public’s health in case of a natural disaster. This includes coordinating emergency planning and support with a number of community partners, including the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, local hospitals, mass care providers, and other local providers.
A disease pandemic occurs when there is a significant increase in the number of cases of a disease, such as a new form of influenza, across several countries or continents. PHP works with a number of Federal, state, and local partners to protect the public’s health in case of a pandemic. These include emergency preparation and coordinating health volunteers through the Medical Reserve Corps. In recent years, PHP worked with CDC to respond to the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic and helped prepare and educate the public and health professionals during the Ebola threat.
Pandemic influenza is a major concern in Hawaii and around the world. DOH and the State of Hawaii have made preparation for an influenza pandemic a top priority, and this served us well during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. PHP Branch and the rest of DODC continue to update and strengthen DOH’s preparation plans and strong framework in order to protect the public’s health in Hawaii in case of a future pandemic.