Report of the Independent Panel on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Ebola ResponseJune2016
Foreword The Independent Panel on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Ebola Response is pleased to provide this report. First, we want to commend HHS for its extraordinary domestic and international response to the largest and most complex Ebola epidemic on record. The performance of thousands of HHS staff members was a testament to the public service ethos of the Department. Our investigation included research into public and internal documents, interviews with hundreds of individuals inside and outside of government, careful deliberations, and extensive review of our findings and recommendations with government officials and other stakeholders. We found notable opportunities for improvement in leadership and organization, communication, management, and logistics, as well as in development and use of vaccines and treatments. Our report makes recommendations to address each of these areas. On behalf of the Panel, I want to thank you for your interest in this work. We strongly believe that the actions we recommend will enable HHS to respond even more capably in future outbreaks. Jonathan Fielding Chair, Independent Panel on the HHS Ebola Response i
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Executive Summary To capture critical lessons from the Ebola epidemic of 2014–2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked CNA to convene an independent panel of public health, healthcare, emergency response, and communication experts to review the Department’s international and domestic responses. This report summarizes the Independent Panel’s assessment of HHS’s challenges—and, where appropriate, challenges facing the broader U.S. government—and presents recommendations for addressing future urgent public health threats. The Ebola epidemic that began in West Africa was a seminal event for the global public health response community. The epidemic crystalized the importance of national disease surveillance capacities and timely multilateral coordination. The World Health Organization (WHO) and others acknowledge that investments must be made in the ability of countries to detect, report, and respond to urgent public health threats, and that reforms are needed to strengthen WHO’s role as the worldwide protector of health [1-2]. As part of this global community, HHS made significant contributions to controlling the epidemic abroad and safeguarding the United States from the risk of Ebola. Through its efforts, many lessons emerged. The most salient lessons related to internal government coordination, collaboration with international partners, communication with the public and key stakeholders, and the need to meet the high demand for public health and medical support at home and abroad.