For Immediate Release: April 29, 2009
Swine Flu Emergency Supplemental Funding Essential for Improving National Pandemic Flu Preparedness, TFAH Says
Trust for America's Health (TFAH) today praised the Obama Administration for requesting $1.5 billion in emergency funds to address the current swine flu outbreak.
"So far, the swine flu crisis has not tested the limits of our response system," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "This outbreak is a reminder that it's better to be safe than sorry. This funding is a down payment on what is needed to help protect Americans from the swine flu and other pandemic flu strains that may emerge. As we use our resources to respond to the current situation, we need to make sure we're also planning ahead for what could come next, keeping the system replenished and sustained."
According to TFAH's analysis, funding is needed for:
- Ongoing research and development capacity for vaccines and medications.
- Replenishing and expanding the supply of antivirals and other equipment needed for the Strategic National Stockpile.
- State and local health department response capabilities. These departments were appropriated $600 million for pandemic flu preparedness in fiscal year (FY) 06, but have not received additional funds since then.
- Hospital surge capacity. If the swine flu develops into a severe pandemic, the current capacity of hospitals and health departments would be exceeded very quickly.
- Rapid swine flu vaccine development and production. If the scientific community determines that an H1N1 (swine flu)-specific vaccine is needed to protect the American people from a later wave of this flu, current funding levels would not support rapid vaccine production capacity to be able to provide a vaccine for all Americans.
"This emergency supplemental funding request is a major step in the right direction. We urge the Congress to work with the Administration to be sure that this $1.5 billion request is sufficient to meet all possible needs - such as mass production of an H1N1 vaccine, which does not appear to be part of the Administration request. With a rapidly changing scientific situation, we need to be sure that public health officials at all levels of government have all the resources they need to respond quickly," Levi continued.
TFAH's annual health emergency preparedness report, Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism, and a report that examined the potential impact of a severe pandemic outbreak, Pandemic Flu and the Potential for U.S. Economic Recession, are available on TFAH's Web site: www.healthyamericans.org. Also, brochures about how individuals, businesses, community-based organizations and the medical community should prepare for a flu pandemic are available at the web site.
Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.