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versão impressa ISSN 0103-4014versão On-line ISSN 1806-9592

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CARMO, Eduardo Hage; PENNA, Gerson  e  OLIVEIRA, Wanderson Kleber de. Public health emergencies: concept, characterization, preparation and response. Estud. av. [online]. 2008, vol.22, n.64, pp.19-32. ISSN 0103-4014.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0103-40142008000300003.

During recent years has increased international concern about the spread of diseases or agents from infectious, chemical or radio-nuclear sources. Aiming to adapt the concepts and measures to prevent or reduce the risk of this spread, was adopted by the countries the new concept of "public health emergency of international concern" under the IHR (2005), and implemented new strategies for strengthening the activities to prepare and response to such emergencies. Based on contextualized risk analysis of health events that can spread internationally, one search to get more appropriate tools to timely identification and intervention on these events. The adaptation of this concept for the purpose of national health surveillance and health care services in Brazil, has allowed a better management of health events that may represent risk of spread of diseases or injuries in the national territory and provide a more timely response. The analysis of these events, presented in this work, shows that the occurrence of environmental disasters with fewer number of events than infectious events, may constitute risk of damage or affect directly larger contingent of population. On the other hand, the infectious events, which usually occur as outbreaks or epidemics, affect a larger number of municipalities and have higher lethality. The measures adopted at the country to improve the health surveillance system on detection, preparedness and response to public health emergencies are described here and the main challenges in terms of managing this system are highlighted.

Palavras-chave : Epidemics; Public health emergency; Emerging diseases; Public health preparedness and response.

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