Tucson, Ariz. — The University of Arizona received a $4.7 million, five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish a Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center (PERLC) at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. The funds will be used to maintain and train public health responders as part of national security.
The Zuckerman College of Public Health is one of 14 accredited schools of public health to receive the CDC grant.
The center will be known as the Mountain West Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center (MWPERLC). It will build on the foundation of the Arizona Center for Public Health Preparedness, which has trained public health professionals in Arizona since 2005.
The Mountain West Center will serve the states of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and the American Indian tribes of Montana, improving the capacity of the public health workforce to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and terrorist incidents.
“Disasters come in many forms, from infectious disease epidemics to wildfires to chemical attacks. Responding to threats and disasters requires a multi-disciplinary response effort, with public health playing a key role. The new center will work with health departments and other agencies to determine their public health preparedness training needs and provide targeted online and in-person training to help address these needs,” said Jeff Burgess, MD, MPH, principal investigator of the Mountain West Center and director of the community, environment and policy division of the Zuckerman College of Public Health.
Training for American Indian public health professionals will be provided through direct face-to-face courses and through tribal community colleges. The grant will extend an established cooperative program with Diné College to provide training in the Navajo Nation and, in collaboration with Montana State University, will provide training for Montana tribes through their tribal community colleges, starting with Little Big Horn College.
“Strategic planning and preliminary analyses on a tribal needs assessment report shows a stark need for training of public health professionals in various capabilities to adequately respond to an all-hazards event within a National Response Framework,” said Brenda Granillo,MS, director of the Mountain West Center. Granillo recently worked with Arizona Tribal Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinators on the report.
Ralph Renger, PhD, will serve as co-principal investigator for the center and will direct program evaluation. Using instructional design, instructional technology, curriculum development, and training expertise, the team will work with state, county and tribal health departments and other regional and local public health agencies.
The Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona in Tucson and Phoenix, is the first nationally accredited college of public health in the Southwest and the only nationally accredited college of public health in the State of Arizona.
The Zuckerman College of Public Health offers an academic curriculum that includes undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees. The college consistently ranks among the top five in American Indian and Hispanic graduates and students among the 44 nationally accredited schools of public health.