The mission of the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is to protect and improve the health and environment for all people in Hawaii. The Office of Public Health Preparedness (OPHP) is an important part of this responsibility, working to prevent, mitigate, plan for, respond to, and recover from natural and human-caused health emergencies and threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Helping the public be prepared for natural and manmade disasters and other public health incidents is also a key role.
The types of threats OPHP prepares for include natural or manmade disasters, emerging infectious diseases, disease epidemics or pandemics, terrorism and accidents that impact human health (e.g., bioterrorism, chemical emergencies, radiological emergencies, and nuclear attack), and other public health emergencies. Preparation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic is one example of such activities.
Funded by a Hospital Preparedness Program-Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OPHP is responsible for coordinating the Department of Health’s (DOH) emergency preparedness activities and facilitating DOH’s roles and responsibilities to protect the public’s health and safety in the event of an emergency or disaster, including a major role in DOH’s COVID-19 response.
Along with its broader health emergency preparedness activities, OPHP also coordinates Hawaii’s smallpox vaccination program, administers the Strategic National Stockpile for distribution of emergency pharmaceuticals in case of public health emergencies, and collaborates with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management (HHEM), county/city emergency management and civil defense agencies, and other related stakeholders in the development and implementation of state and local response plans for bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.