TFAH, or the Trust For America’s Health, is a non-profit organization that audits and reports on public health issues in the United States.
Yesterday, in the middle of an unusually busy health news cycle, they released their annual report on the readiness of the United States to deal with disease, disasters, and bioterrorism.
This year’s big concern is that the gains of the past few years in preparedness may be eroded due to budgetary constraints.
For Immediate Release: December 20, 2011
Cuts to Key Programs Could Hurt Ability to Detect and Respond to Crises
Washington, DC, December 20, 2011 -The Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released the ninth annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism today, which finds key programs that detect and respond to bioterrorism, new disease outbreaks and natural or accidental disasters are at risk due to federal and state budget cuts.
Some key programs at risk due to continued cuts to federal public health emergency preparedness funds include:
- 51 of the 72 cities in the Cities Readiness Initiative are at risk for elimination; the Initiative supports the ability to rapidly distribute and administer vaccines and medications during emergencies;
- All 10 state labs with "Level 1" chemical testing status are at risk for losing top level capabilities, which could leave the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the only public health lab in the country with full ability to test for chemical terrorism and accidents;
- 24 states are at risk for losing the support of Career Epidemiology Field Officers - CDC experts who supplement state and local gaps to rapidly prevent and respond to outbreaks and disasters, such as during the H1N1 flu pandemic and responding to the health impact of the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010; and
- The ability for CDC to mount a comprehensive response to nuclear, radiologic and chemical threats as well as natural disasters is at risk due to potential cuts to the National Center for Environmental Health. All 50 states and Washington, D.C. would lose the support CDC provides during these emergencies.
"We're seeing a decade's worth of progress eroding in front of our eyes," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "Preparedness had been on an upward trajectory, but now some of the most elementary capabilities - including the ability to identify and contain outbreaks, provide vaccines and medications during emergencies, and treat people during mass traumas - are experiencing cuts in every state across the country."
And for good measure, Lisa at CIDRAP filed this report last night. Follow the link to read it in its entirety.
Lisa Schnirring Staff Writer
Dec 20, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – Public health programs that detect and respond to bioterror events and disease outbreaks are at risk from federal and state budget cuts, a threat that could worsen over the next year if automatic across-the-board cuts kick in, according to an annual preparedness report card released today.
The big-picture preparedness view and warning come from Trust for America's Health (TFAH), a nonprofit health advocacy group, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.