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Infectious Disease and National Security: Strategic Information Needs
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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The global community has suffered recently from newly emerged infectious diseases, including HIVAIDS and severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS, and from reemerging diseases once thought to be in decline. Additionally, it is increasingly recognized that infectious disease can pose a significant threat to U.S. and world security. To best understand and mitigate this threat, U.S. policy makers require adequate and timely information about the occurrence of infectious disease worldwide. The Advanced Systems and Concepts Office of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency asked the RAND Corporation to examine infectious diseases within the context of national security and assess the need for, and the adequacy of, such information among U.S. policy makers. The primary objectives of this study were to assess the availability of information concerning global infectious disease threats and to determine the suitability and use of such information to support U.S. policy making in preventing or otherwise responding to such threats. During the study, RAND conducted literature and document reviews, surveyed the current state of available information systems related to infectious disease, and interviewed 53 senior policy makers and staff from agencies across the Federal Government and from selected outside organizations. Some basic findings are as follows Globalization Increases Both Risks and Opportunities, the United States Has Responded to the Threat, There is Consensus about Information Needs, Many Information Systems Currently Exist, and Emerging Information Systems Require Evaluation. More and better information must be collected, integrated, and shared across government sectors that have, at best, a relatively short history of working together on shared priorities. It was suggested by some policy makers during this study that the United States needs a new centralized system for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information about infectious diseases.
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