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National Health Security Environment and Threat Landscape

National Health Security Strategy (NHSS), 2023-2026

Computer Science Female Engineer Working under Important Project on Personal Computer Showing Infrastructure Infographics and Da  

National Health Security Environment

National health security depends on collaboration among many complex, global, and interconnected systems. Public health and medical preparedness efforts require an assessment of these existing capabilities to ensure that the United States is well positioned to respond to and recover from any health security threat. As demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are significant challenges in the national health security environment, including supply chain vulnerabilities, disruptions in continuity of care, workforce shortages, equipment and infrastructure shortfalls, and health disparities. 

Threat Landscape

As the nation continues to face the impacts of COVID-19, the United States remains vulnerable to newly emerging pathogens that could cause the next pandemic. Urbanization, deforestation, habitat encroachment, some agriculture and livestock practices, economic interdependence, and climate change can drive disease emergence and increase the threat to emerging infections diseases (EIDs). Climate change acts as a threat multiplier, worsens health outcomes, and complicates response. As global temperatures rise and more extreme physical effects of climate change take place, there is an increased risk of global competition for resources and surges in international population displacement. Additionally, human-caused threats like cyberattacks and geopolitical conflicts can cause significant disruption of supply chains, economies, and food security. The instability caused by disruptions like these has cascading impacts, which can exacerbate all health security threats.

Malicious actors remain a significant threat to the United States. Cyberattacks can disrupt critical infrastructure and put patient privacy and safety at risk. A cyberattack during another public health emergency or disaster can further complicate response efforts. 

According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, biosecurity remains essential and there is a risk of new biological weapon threats from adversaries inspired by the perceived weak global response to the pandemic.[11] Threat actors can leverage both mature and new technologies, such as biotechnology, to attack the United States and cause harm to the population. 

The United States must continue to adapt and strengthen capabilities as these threats evolve and increase in frequency and severity.

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c  The public health supply chain consists of drugs, biological products, personal protective equipment, clinical and research laboratory supplies, and medical devices – including diagnostic and testing devices – as well as ancillary supplies required to deliver these countermeasures.

d  Cultural competence is the integration and transformation of knowledge about individuals and groups of people into specific standards, policies, practices, and attitudes used in appropriate cultural settings to increase the quality of services.

e  The Social Determinants of Health include economic stability, education access and quality, health care access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, and social and community context.