CSTE and APHL Support Recommendations of TFAH's Outbreaks 2015: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases

Dec 17, 2015, 15:18 ET from Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE); Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL)

ATLANTA, Dec. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) support the findings of Outbreaks 2015: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases, released today by the Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report surveys states on 10 indicators and makes practical funding recommendations to protect against new and longstanding threats.

Foremost in the report's recommendations is its call to build state epidemiology and laboratory capacity and resources. Together epidemiology and laboratory science serve as the backbone of threat detection and serve as a basis for emergency response.

This is in line with CSTE's 2013 Epidemiology Capacity Assessment (ECA) report, which recommends: training opportunities and standards for applied public health epidemiologists; further funding of underdeveloped program areas, such as substance abuse and mental health; and the development of workforce recruitment and retention strategies. CSTE's assessment results echo the call in Outbreaks 2015 to modernize state disease surveillance technology capacity to increase real-time responsiveness and interoperability. Outbreaks 2015 further reinforces CSTE's recommendations that infectious disease preparedness requires well-supported health systems improvement and maintenance.

Outbreaks 2015 cites a 2012 CSTE assessment on mosquito-borne disease surveillance: "Cuts in federal support via the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) cooperative agreement program have resulted in reduced mosquito surveillance (trapping, testing or both) in 70 percent of states and 75 percent of local health departments." ELC is a critical pipeline that enables states to build epidemiology capacity where it matters most.

APHL provided two key indicators on biosafety and biosecurity for Outbreaks 2015; this is an area where there are clearly gaps. However, since APHL provided these data points for the report, CDC allocated new funding to state public health laboratories that are without a biosafety officer to hire one. Additionally, CDC has supported APHL to serve as a resource center to ensure that a culture of safety is embedded in the nation's public health laboratories.

Furthermore, Congress is expected to appropriate $8 million for laboratory safety at CDC and an additional $5 million for laboratory training nationwide. "Congress clearly saw the need to fill this gap and it is an important first step," said Scott Becker. "The report helps us to better pinpoint actions to be taken to assist the states to continue to improve their lab systems."

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SOURCE Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE); Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL)