The Working Group (WG) on Community Engagement in Health Emergency Planning was an advisory body convened by the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 2006. The purpose of the group was to counsel government leaders and public health and safety professionals on the value and feasibility of active collaborations with citizens and civil society institutions in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from an extreme health event.
Members included decision makers at local and national levels of government; public health officials who have responded to high-profile events; heads of community-based partnerships for public health and/or disaster mitigation; and subject matter experts in civic engagement, community development, risk communication, public health preparedness, disaster management, health disparities, and infectious diseases.
Informing the WG’s deliberations and final recommendations were members’ experiences and professional judgment as well as evidence obtained by the review of relevant literatures including social and behavioral research into hazards, disasters, and epidemics; the theory and practice of public participation and deliberative democracy; and medical and public health management of extreme events including pandemic influenza.
WG research and deliberations were funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), grant number N00140510629, and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, award number 2004-6-13. Subject matter experts affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention participated in the WG. However, any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in the WG report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Sloan Foundation, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Working Group was launched at the May 2006 bi-national summit, Disease, Disaster, and Democracy: The Public’s Stake in Health Emergency Planning, in Washington, DC. There they first discussed foundational concepts of community engagement, reviewed exemplary practices, and debated applications to pandemic flu. Conference proceedings are available online at http://www.upmc-biosecurity.org/website/events/2006_disease-disaster-democ