A health disparities perspective on developing emerging infectious disease preparedness
A systematic review of the literature yielded 10 articles that explored the interaction between race/ethnicity, citizenship, socioeconomic status, and health literacy domains with respect to preparedness agenda development. Current emerging infectious disease (EID) preparedness plans do not adequately address the needs of vulnerable populations for the events before, during, and after an epidemic. Central to the disadvantage of most vulnerable populations are various health disparity domains that persist as barriers for individuals and communities alike to engage in preparedness efforts. Seven out of the ten articles discussed the importance of including health disparity domains in preparedness policy. Two proposed frameworks for an emerging infectious disease framework that considers health disparities are presented in this study.
Framework 1 is beneficial for the evaluation phase after a disaster has struck and preparedness efforts have been initiated. It considers several existing disparities and remediation strategies at the individual, community, and system levels to reach adequate restructuring of preparedness aims. Framework 2 serves as a "how to" carry out preparedness during a disaster event. It is a revision of a framework proposed by Blumenshine et al. (2008) and explores those characteristics central to pandemic preparedness plan development/deployment. Although two frameworks were devised, no one framework will adequately address the needs of vulnerable populations during an epidemic. However, the two frameworks propose to demonstrate the inclusion of important health disparity domains in preparedness plan development.
The National Consensus Panel for Emergency Preparedness and Cultural Diversity has released guidelines that are considered the leading strategies necessary to reorient preparedness infrastructure. In order for vulnerable populations to benefit from ample protection during a disaster, inclusion of health disparity domains in the development phases of preparedness must occur prior to full deployment in communities. Although "promising practices" and other methods at the frontier of exploring these multidimensional constraints has entered the research arena, new studies on adequate preparedness merit further investigation and support.