In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a detailed review of the entire Ebola outbreak response as a series of articles included as a special supplement to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). One of the articles, “Incident Management Systems and Building Emergency Management Capacity during the 2014–2016 Ebola Epidemic — Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea” was authored by Ms. Jennifer Brooks and her team. Ms. Brooks, an alumna of the ETSU College of Public Health, led a team of public health/emergency management professionals during the epidemic.
During the 2014–2016 Ebola virus disease epidemic in West Africa, CDC established the Emergency Management Development Team. The team served as an incident management system (IMS) to coordinate technical assistance for developing emergency management capacity in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Before the epidemic, limited capacity existed for public health emergency management in these three countries. The team was formed before most international partners arrived and attempted to address gaps in the emergency management infrastructure in three key domains: staff, systems, and infrastructure. The article summarizes the team’s activities and the lessons learned during implementation.
“In my 28 years with CDC, working on Ebola in West Africa has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my entire career,” said Ms. Brooks. “I met public health colleagues who, even in the best of circumstances, face substantial hurdles in public health program delivery and remain passionate and committed to achieving healthy communities.
According to the article, the incident management system structures developed for this response could serve as foundational framework for a long-term public health emergency management program that has the staff, infrastructure, and systems in place to successfully prepare for and respond to public health events and emergencies.
Ms. Brooks added, “Despite significant setbacks to their public health infrastructure, my colleagues vow to provide follow-up services to Ebola survivors even as they return to a steady state of their regular programs. I am honored to collaborate with them as they establish preparedness and response programs, including permanent IMS, going forward.”
Ms. Jennifer Brooks received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education from the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health in 1987. She currently serves as the Deputy Chief of the Global Emergency Management Capacity Development Branch in the Division of Emergency Operations of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.