Rapid risk assessments for public health professionals
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About rapid risk assessments
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) conducts rapid risk assessments on public health threats to:
- quickly determine the level of risk
- develop recommended actions
These assessments are intended to inform PHAC and other professionals responsible for managing public health risks. The assessments will support responses and decision making.
Rapid risk assessments are undertaken on any public health threat where available information indicates a need for a response. An assessment does not necessarily indicate an elevated level of risk to the public or that one is expected.
Assessments for variants all follow the same methods:
Understanding rapid risk assessments
Rapid risk assessments are conducted for public health threats including emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases and other hazards. A hazard is anything that can cause harm to public health. A hazard is considered a threat if information suggests it may cause harm that requires further action.
A rapid risk assessment helps to understand the:
- likelihood of a public health threat occurring
- impact if it were to occur
The assessments can then guide a response by PHAC and other public health professionals. Advice would aim to improve health outcomes.
A rapid risk assessment is conducted when a public health threat could have a significant impact or when there is a lot of uncertainty. The assessment is completed within a few days or weeks. It is a process for gathering, analyzing and assessing information on a threat. The process provides risk estimates for a specific period and location. These risk estimates are based on information that include:
- pre-existing scientific evidence
- readily available data
- expert knowledge and opinion
The risk estimates include a measure of uncertainty in the assessment report because they rely on information available at a specific point in time. This information can be incomplete or difficult to validate. It is an ongoing process, and assessments are updated as new evidence becomes available.
For the general public
Additional information on events related to public health risks are available:
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