Health and Social Services in Puerto Rico Before and After Hurricane Maria

from RAND Research Topic: Health and Health Care at on September 30, 2020 at 02:44PM

In September 2017, Puerto Rico was struck by two major hurricanes—Irma and Maria—that intensified existing challenges in Puerto Rico’s health and social services infrastructure. In the aftermath, the government of Puerto Rico created a long-term recovery plan built on an evidence-based assessment of the damage from the hurricanes and the ongoing needs across Puerto Rico. Development of the recovery plan was supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, other federal agencies, local stakeholders, and analysis from the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC), operated by RAND Corporation under contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

HSOAC research provided the foundation for the 31 courses of action in the recovery plan addressing the health and social services sector. These actions are a mix of social, governmental, fiscal, and economic policies and reforms. This collection of actions presents an opportunity to build a more resilient health and social services infrastructure and regional health care networks to ensure reliable access to services, promote health and well-being, and more efficiently and effectively respond to public health crises and future disasters. The actions span the areas of health care, public health and emergency preparedness, environmental health, mental and behavioral health, and social services.

The damage and needs assessment and courses of actions cover four major themes: building system capacity to respond both during disasters and routine times; strengthening the health and social services workforce; strengthening support services for at-need populations; and creating health-promoting communities.

This research was sponsored by FEMA and conducted within the Strategy, Policy and Operations Program of the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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