Worker health and safety is one focus of new Department of Homeland Security office
Washington — The Department of Homeland Security has established the Office of Health Security to serve as “the principal medical, workforce health and safety, and public health authority” for DHS.
The office unifies the department’s health and safety and public health functions under one organization, according to a DHS press release. It’ll work to enhance the U.S. workforce’s and the nation’s preparedness, response and resilience to the health impacts of terrorism and other disasters.
“This reorganization will pioneer best-in-class workforce health, safety, work-life and wellness programs, and suitable, timely care for noncitizens in our care and custody,” the release adds. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) on June 23 introduced S. 4465, known as the Offices of Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction and Health Security Act of 2022. The bill calls for the leader of the Office of Health Security – DHS’ chief medical officer – to be a licensed physician appointed by the president.
Physician Pritesh Gandhi is the office’s first CMO.
“Over the past several years, Americans have faced a series of unprecedented challenges impacting their health security, from the (COVID-19) pandemic to natural disasters and more,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in the release. “Our department must be prepared to adapt to an ever-expanding, dynamic and complex public health threat landscape. The Office of Health Security will lead our efforts to meet that charge.”