Researchers at the University of Arizona developed a playbook for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that allows airport attorneys, management, and staff to respond to a public health emergency in real time. The report, “Airport Public Health Preparedness and Response: Legal Rights, Powers, and Duties,” published in 2018, is co-authored by Ms. Leila Barraza, assistant professor at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and Ms. Elizabeth Hall-Lipsy, assistant professor at the UA College of Pharmacy.
With the rise in frequency and convenience of global travel opportunities, airports are inevitable hubs for the spread of communicable diseases into the United States and between states. While Ebola and Zika are the latest examples of diseases that have entered the United States from air passengers, many communicable diseases can be transmitted quickly and widely through air travel, threatening public health.
The report identifies and describe the rights and obligations of additional stakeholders in response to the potential transmittal of disease, such as the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies, and state and local health and public safety organizations.
“Airports may be the first stop that an incoming infectious disease patient may encounter, and airport personnel must be prepared to serve as first responders to mitigate the spread of an outbreak during a public health emergency,” says Ms. Barraza, who teaches public health law and studies the impact of laws and regulations on population health, both nationally and globally.