For Immediate Release: March 4, 2013
Trust for America’s Health Statement on the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act
Washington, DC, March 4, 2013—Trust for America's Health (TFAH) applauds the passage of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act (PAHPRA) (H.R. 307), which will help address ongoing and emerging challenges in public health preparedness – and ensure public health has the resources and support necessary to prepare for and respond to disease outbreaks, severe weather events, acts of terrorism or other public health emergencies.
The following is a statement from Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH.
“In the eleven years following the September 11, 2001 and anthrax tragedies, there has been significant progress toward improving public health preparedness, particularly in core capabilities.
The passage of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006 (PAHPA) helped build the first national system of public health preparedness, codifying public health’s role in protecting Americans from disasters and bioterrorism.
As is the nature with disasters, which are impossible to perfectly predict, there is always more work to be done—new technologies to consider and training to undergo. Public health has been front and center responding to disasters over the past year – from detecting and addressing the fungal meningitis outbreak to implementing mass vaccinations during the whooping cough epidemic to coordinating the medical response during wildfires.
The reauthorization bill passed today will help build an even more prepared nation with an increased emphasis on the agility of public health, protecting children and long-range planning for medical countermeasures and other key government functions—most notably, the law:
- Reauthorizes state and local, hospital preparedness grants to build capabilities to prepare for and respond to disasters where they hit first – at the community level;
- Reauthorizes BARDA and BioShield to ensure public-private partnership to develop and purchase life-saving medical countermeasures;
- Provides flexibility for states to rapidly reassign public health staff during a disaster;
- Requires long-term budget and implementation plans for the national medical countermeasure enterprise; and
- Establishes an Advisory Committee on Children & Disasters and includes pediatric medical countermeasure development to focus work on protecting the nation’s most vulnerable.
On December 19, 2012, TFAH released the 10th annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, which found that while there has been significant progress toward improving public health preparedness, there continue to be persistent gaps in the country's ability to respond to health emergencies. The passage of PAHPRA will go a long way toward addressing some of these gaps.
TFAH thanks the members of Congress and their staff who worked so hard to achieve a bipartisan, bicameral bill: Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Congressmen Fred Upton (R-MI), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Mike Rogers (R-MI), and Gene Green (D-TX).”
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. www.healthyamericans.org