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Biosecur Bioterror. 2012 Mar;10(1):77-88. doi: 10.1089/bsp.2011.0108.

The people's role in U.S. national health security: past, present, and future.

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Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA.


Over the past decade, assumptions have been made and unmade about what officials can expect of average people confronting a bioterrorist attack or other major health incident. The reframing of the public in national discourse and doctrine from a panic-stricken mob to a band of hearty survivors is a positive development and more realistic in terms of the empirical record. So, too, is the realization that citizen contributions to national health security encompass not only individual preparedness and volunteerism but also mutual aid and collective deliberation of the tough choices posed by health disasters. In projecting what needs to occur over the next 10 years in biosecurity, 2 priority challenges emerge: retaining the lesson that a public prone to panic, social disorder, and civil unrest is a myth, and building an infrastructure to bolster the public's full contributions to health emergency management.

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