The Evolution of Public Health Emergency Management as a Field of Practice

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The health impacts of recent global infectious disease outbreaks and other disasters have demonstrated the importance of strengthening public health systems to better protect communities from naturally occurring and human-caused threats. Public health emergency management (PHEM) is an emergent field of practice that draws on specific sets of knowledge, techniques, and organizing principles necessary for the effective management of complex health events.We highlight how the nascent field of PHEM has evolved in recent years.We explore this development by first examining multiple sites of intersection between the fields of public health and emergency management. We then analyze 2 of the principal pillars on which PHEM was built: organizational and programmatic (i.e., industry) standards and the incident management system. This is followed by a sketch of the key domains, or functional areas, of PHEM and their application to the emergency management cycle. We conclude with some observations about PHEM in a global context and discuss how the field might continue to evolve.

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