WASHINGTON, May 22, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement from John Auerbach, President and CEO, of Trust for America's Health (TFAH) on the introduction of the Senate HELP Committee's Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation (PAHPAI) Act:
"We applaud the Senate introduction of the bipartisan Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act and urge the Senate to pass the bill.
As we mark the 100-year anniversary of the devastating 1918 flu pandemic, it is a stark reminder of how important preparedness is and how far we've come.
While we are much better prepared than we were a century — or even 17 years — ago, some important gaps remain. The nation needs to better prepare our healthcare system for disasters and unusual outbreaks and ensure thoughtful planning occurs for community members who could be at higher risk during disasters, such as older adults, children and people with complex health conditions.
And, the nation must be better at moving vaccines and other lifesaving medications from initial research all the way through to dispensing.
The bill also addresses the needs of the public health sector. It would formally integrate public health into decision-making around the medical products in development for major health threats.
The bill also clarifies the role of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in preparing public health departments for disasters and gives CDC tools to improve biosurveillance capabilities to detect new threats.
And, taking lessons learned from Ebola cases, the bill helps develop specialized hospitals that are capable of responding to extraordinary outbreaks.
While the bill fills many of the existing gaps, TFAH is concerned that authorized funding levels included in this bill are inadequate compared to the scope of the threat. The devastation that we saw this year due to the hurricanes in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Texas and Florida, the wildfires in California and the severe flu season throughout the nation illustrate the importance of creating effective and well-prepared public health and healthcare systems. TFAH is also concerned the bill does not go far enough in creating and funding a standing emergency fund to ensure timely response to major public health threats.
Health security is key to our national security, and we are pleased the Senate bill reflects that fact. We look forward to working with policymakers to ensure PAHPAI is as strong as possible — and we are adequately safeguarding all of our nation's residents."
Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes optimal health for every person and community and makes the prevention of illness and injury a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org