The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded a $250,000 start-up grant to Harvard’s School of Public Health (SPH) and Kennedy School of Government to develop and establish the National Preparedness Leadership Academy (NPLA). In light of bioterrorist and other terror threats, this university-wide training initiative is geared toward senior government officials with responsibilities for preparedness and public health.
The goal of the academy is to produce a corps of able and responsive leaders, equipped to expand “connectivity” on critical national preparedness matters. The connectivity concept strives to build a seamless web of people, organizations, resources, and information that can best catch, contain, and control a bioterrorist attack, an emergent infectious disease like SARS, or other public health emergencies. Once the framework of the NPLA is implemented, the CDC plans to award additional funding to the project in 2004.
SPH faculty member Leonard Marcus, co-director of NPLA said, “There are many challenges and difficulties inherent in moving and preparing large systems and bureaucracies to the level of preparedness that would enable them to respond to or prevent a large-scale bioterror or terrorist attack. The National Preparedness Leadership Academy will develop a curriculum and training program that will help officials at all levels of government to better understand the challenges of reaching the national imperative of complete preparedness.” Marcus is also founding director of the Program for Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at SPH and co-investigator at the Harvard Center for Public Health Preparedness.
Arnold M. Howitt, executive director of the Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government and co-director of the NPLA, added, “I am excited by the opportunity for Harvard to contribute to leadership development at the juncture of the public health and emergency management professions. That is vital to prepare the United States not only for bioterrorism, as was discovered with the anthrax letter attacks, but also for emergent infectious diseases like SARS and West Nile virus and for natural disasters that might threaten public health. We look forward to working with senior federal officials and, ultimately state and local officials. The partnership between the Kennedy School and the School of Public Health will hopefully portend many other collaborations in these fields.”