Grant Awarded to Enhance Local Capacity to Respond to Infectious Disease Events

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded a grant to Berman Institute faculty member Holly Taylor, PhD, MPH, along with Hopkins colleagues Daniel Barnett, MD, MPH, and Lainie Rutkow, JD, PHD, MPH, to work on a four-year project entitled Ethical Standards to Improve Local Response Capacity to Infectious Disease Events.

“In the event of a natural or manmade infectious disease outbreak, we will rely on local health department staff to organize and implement the appropriate public health response,” says Taylor.  “It is essential that we find out what competing ethical obligations local health department staff are concerned about to address any barriers to their willingness to respond.”

Taylor explains that the project is two-fold; one aspect is to characterize local health department officials’ perceptions of their legal and ethical obligations during an infectious disease outbreak. The second aspect of the project is to take the characterized findings and identify tensions between ethical obligations, legal standards and self-reported willingness to respond in events of outbreak, in order to develop the ethically sound guidance document for local health departments.

“My colleagues and I hope the results of our efforts will enhance the ability of leaders in local health departments to guide their workforce in the event of a future pandemic or bioterrorist event,” Taylor says.