Security Newswire

Report Says U.S. Disaster Readiness at Risk

A report on America's readiness to respond to disease outbreaks, natural disasters or acts of bioterrorism says federal budget cuts affecting all levels of government have put the nation at risk.

The ninth annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), says that 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.

According to the report, 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."

Combined federal, state and local budget cuts mean public health departments can no longer sustain a number of basic elements of preparedness.  In the past year, 40 states and Washington, D.C. cut state public health funds - with 29 of those states and D.C. cutting their budgets for a second year in a row and 15 states for three years in a row.  Federal funds for state and local preparedness declined by 27 percent from fiscal year (FY) 2005 to 2011 (adjusted for inflation) - and the President's proposed budget for FY 2012 represents another $72 million in cuts for Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) funding. 

 "Americans expect the public health system to have the capability to competently protect their health during emergencies.   This is not an optional service," said Mel Kohn, MD, MPH, State Health Officer and Public Health Director of the Oregon Health Authority.  "We will be unable to absorb reductions of this magnitude simply by finding efficiencies.  We have reached the point where our ability to do this work will be seriously compromised, with life and death consequences."

"During the anthrax attacks and Hurricane Katrina, we witnessed what happens when public health doesn't have the technology, resources, workforce or training needed to respond to emergencies," said James S. Marks, Senior Vice President and Director of the Health Group of RWJF.  "The old adage is that it's better to be safe than sorry.  Unfortunately if we ignore preparedness now, we'll be sorry later when the next emergency strikes."

The report includes a series of recommendations that will be important for improving America's preparedness, including:

  • Assuring dedicated funding and strengthening the public health preparedness core capabilities;
  • Improving biosurveillance to rapidly detect and track outbreaks or attacks;
  • Improving research, development and manufacturing of vaccines and medications;
  • Enhancing the ability to provide care for a mass influx of patients during emergencies;
  • Providing better support to help communities cope with and recover from disasters; and
  • Coordinating food safety with other preparedness efforts through the strategic implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011.

Download the full report at http://www.healthyamericans.org/assets/files/TFAH2011ReadyorNot_09.pdf

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Security Magazine. 

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

ASIS 2013 Product Preview

ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, September 24-27 in Chicago, Illinois, will include an exhibit hall packed with innovative security solutions. Here are some of the products that will be shown at ASIS this year.

Podcasts

Virtualization and Data Center Security: What You Need to Know for 2014

Data centers are increasingly becoming the center of the enterprise, and data center and cyber security is following the same path for security departments. According to Justin Flynn, a consultant at the Burwood Group, the virtualization of data centers allows enterprises to scale more easily and faster, with a smaller footprint.

However, hosting enterprise data in the cloud can make intrusion detection more difficult – how can enterprise security leaders team up with other departments to keep aware of cyber risks and traffic, and physical and data compliance during the virtual transition? How can CISOs and CSOs discuss cyber threats with the C-Suite to get the resources they need? And how can the proper infrastructure test and verify possible malicious attacks? 

More Podcasts

Security Magazine

April 2015 security magazine cover

2015 April

In this April 2015 issue of Security, find out how to keep your enterprise resilient after a disaster in 2015. Also discover how to strike a balance between design basis threats and active shooter threats and see what's in store for the 2015 RSA Conference.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Body Cameras on Security Officers

Body cameras are being used increasingly by police in cities across the U.S. Will you arm your security officers with a body camera?
View Results Poll Archive

THE SECURITY STORE

Effective Security Management, 5th Edition.jpg
Effective Security Management, 5th Edition

 Effective Security Management, 5e, teaches practicing security professionals how to build their careers by mastering the fundamentals of good management. Charles Sennewald brings a time-tested blend of common sense, wisdom, and humor to this bestselling introduction to workplace dynamics. 

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook 40px 2-12-13 Twitter logo 40px 2-12-13  YouTube  LinkedIn logo 40px 2-12-13Google+

Vertical Sector Focus: Critical Infrastructures

criticalhomepagethumbFrom terrorism to vandalism, it’s preparedness, response, training and partnerships. Learn about some of the critical security issues facing this sector.

Visit the Critical Infrastructure page to read more.