UNMC College of Public Health dean writes Lancet article on U.S. health security

July 08, 2014

Image with caption: Ali Khan, M.D., M.P.H.

Ali Khan, M.D., M.P.H.

Ali Khan, M.D., M.P.H., the new dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health, was co-author of an article in the July 5 edition of the Lancet, one of the world's oldest and most prestigious medical journals.

The article, “Health security in 2014: building on preparedness knowledge for emerging health threats,” highlights public health advances that have resulted in a nation that is more resilient and prepared for emerging health threats. It describes how organizations in the U.S. are building scientific capacity to detect, contain and respond to novel threats before they become global threats.

New infections pay little attention to political boundaries as they spread. Complex and interconnected problems have spurred innovation across government to create interconnected solutions, Dr. Khan said.

“Health security investments in state public health and community resiliency activities served as the backbone for improved response to all public health emergencies in the past decade,” he said. “These investments for disease detection, planning, health investigations, and medical surge are even more critical today as the nation prepares for new pandemics and other threats such as climate disruption.”

The article was one of a series of seven published in a special issue titled “Health in the U.S.” The issue was dedicated to the health of Americans, with contributions from leading health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The series describes some of the major health challenges facing the United States, including chronic and infectious diseases, injuries and accidents, and outlines how opportunities provided by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could improve public health. The series also evaluates health spending in the U.S. (currently the highest in the world per capita), by comparison with other high-spending OECD countries.

Dr. Khan’s article explores the intersection of public health and health security in the United States and the role of the CDC in promoting and improving global health.

Prior to coming to UNMC, Dr. Khan was director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the CDC. Co-author of the article was Nicole Lurie, M.D., assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS, and a rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service.

In their article, Drs. Khan and Lurie show how the U.S. is building national capabilities to improve health security in the face of ever-complicated threats, including emerging infectious diseases, hospital-acquired infections, natural disasters and bioterrorism. 

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu and follow us on social media.

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