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Health Security, Vol 15, January 2017
Beginning in 2017, new federal leadership can take important steps to vitalize the role of private citizens and businesses as well as faith-based and community-based organizations in the larger public health emergency preparedness (PHEP) enterprise. A broad consensus exists that government on its own cannot effectively and equitably manage epidemics and disasters. Past events repeatedly demonstrate that actions by citizens and civic groups have helped to curtail the impacts of extreme events and to prompt a more complete recovery from mass trauma. Nonetheless, the full potential of nongovernment forces in disaster readiness, response, and recovery has yet to be realized. Community engagement can enhance the quality of emergency planning, improve protections for vulnerable populations, multiply preparedness and response assets, and, ultimately, save more lives. The incoming administration in concert with Congress has an immense opportunity to enhance the country's resilience to catastrophic health events by steadily investing in robust partnerships between local public health authorities and the communities they serve.