August 28, 2007

Following the emergency preparedness disaster of Hurricane Katrina, The Department of Homeland Security has updated its National Response Plan, which is now under review. Reaction in state and local governments hasn't been all positive. The University of Maryland 's Chiehwen "Ed" Hsu, an expert in public health emergency preparedness, has read the plan and says while there are some improvements over past plans, there are some weak spots. One of them is the plan's failure to advocate resources to support the needs of vulnerable populations, such as those with physical disabilities and language restrictions. Here Hsu offers his assessment of the NRP and some specific actions that should be taken to help vulnerable populations. Hsu is assistant professor of public health informatics in the department of public and community health at the University of Maryland . He has published several recent papers on public health needs of vulnerable populations.

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