TFAH: Congress must pass PAHPRA by end of 2012

Trust for America's Health, a non-profit organization working to make disease prevention a nationwide priority, issued a statement on Thursday urging the Senate to pass a law to strengthen preparedness and response planning.

TFAH praised the House of Representatives' recent passage of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act. The organization recommended that the Senate take swift action to pass the law before the end of 2012.

Jeff Levi, the executive director of TFAH, said that the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act improved the country's response planning and preparedness when it was passed in 2006. Levi said that it is of vital importance in 2012 that the final bill reauthorize the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the Hospital Preparedness Program, and the Public Health and Emergency Preparedness Grant Program.

"In 2012, PAHPRA provides an opportunity to update the statute to more adequately address ongoing and emerging challenges in public health preparedness - and to ensure public health has the resources and support necessary to prepare for and respond to a disease outbreak, severe weather event, act of terrorism or other public health emergency," Levi said.

Other provisions in the proposed bill include significant steps toward medical countermeasure research and development for children, coordination among U.S. biosurveillance systems and giving the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to temporarily reassign public health personnel during a major emergency.

"TFAH looks forward to seeing a bill on the president's desk before the end of the year," Levi said.