Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS: Legal Issues
State & Local Health Perspective on Bioterrorism
Role, Rex Archer, Kansas City Department of Health:
There is a need for increased training and resources for state
and local public health departments. Public health officers
should have a higher profile within the political infrastructure
and the public. Laws are meaningless without the practical ability
to carry them out.
Greater efforts are required in the areas of record collection
and data sharing. States need to have clear procedures for reporting
of diseases, collecting data on workplace absenteeism, and obtaining
information from pharmacies. There is also a need to streamline
licensing requirements for medical professionals across state
lines. In addition, the practices of managed care organizations
may impact negatively on disease surveillance; for example,
by discouraging doctors from ordering confirmatory tests.
Local health officers are authorized to control the use of
property in a public health emergency. For example, public health
officers may need to commandeer hotel rooms, which may be useful
during an event because these rooms generally operate on separate
ventilation systems. In addition, public health officers may
have to commandeer drive-through facilities, such as those found
at fast food restaurants, that could be used to dispense medicines
in an emergency. While public health authorities are relatively
strong, there is little practical experience in using compulsory
measures, as they have not been needed for more than 50 years.
Increased authority may be needed.
"Greater efforts are required with respect to
management of persons. For example, few health facilities have the
surge capacity to deal with a large number of casualties. In addition,
the chain of command during a public health emergency must be clarified."
State Emergency Health Powers and the Bioterrorism Threat
"AIDS laws must not be based upon ignorance, fear and political
expediency and pandering to the demand of the citizenry for 'tough'
measures…. Good laws, like good ethics, will be founded in good
data". THE CRIMINALISATION OF LIVES
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