CONTACT: DEBRA VENZKE
UI COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Release: Nov. 14, 2001
New UI center to strengthen Iowa's public health preparedness
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- As the effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks continue
to ripple across the nation, the need for a well-prepared public health workforce
has grown increasingly evident. Heightened concern for potential chemical
or biological attacks further drives home the importance of supporting a network
of highly skilled public health personnel at the national and local levels.
In response to these needs, the University of Iowa College of Public Health
has established the Iowa Center for Public Health Preparedness (ICPHP) through
a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Bioterrorism
Preparedness Initiative. The center has received an initial grant of $162,000
from CDC, with plans to receive $500,000 grants for each of the next two fiscal
One of seven academic Centers for Public Health Preparedness located throughout
the United States, the ICPHP places special emphasis on partnerships with
agricultural and emergency management units. The center's mission is to ensure
that Iowa's public health workforce has the skills to prepare for, promptly
identify and respond to current and emerging health threats.
"This new center will serve as an important resource for upgrading
the training and education of the state's health and emergency providers,"
said ICPHP director Christopher Atchison, UI College of Public Health associate
dean for public health practice and associate professor of health management
and policy. "Since Iowa is a leading agricultural state, the center is
uniquely positioned to offer insight into issues such as crop and livestock
safety. The state also has excellent laboratory facilities for coordinating
veterinary and human health surveillance of possible bioterrorism situations."
The ICPHP is developing an eight-month train-the-trainer program that culminates
in a certificate of public health preparedness. Approximately 60 public health
professionals including first responders, environmental health specialists,
emergency management personnel, public health nurses, physicians, pharmacists,
public health administrators, disease prevention specialists, extension service
personnel, laboratory personnel, veterinarians and hospital personnel
will be recruited from five regions in the state to participate in the training
program. Once the participants have completed the program, they will return
to their own communities to assist with continuing training efforts.
The center's program partners include the Iowa Association of Local Public
Health Agencies, Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Emergency Management
Division, Iowa Hospital Association, Iowa Medical Society, Iowa Nurses' Association,
Iowa Pharmacy Association, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine,
Iowa State University Extension and UI Hygienic Laboratory.