Purdue study questions improvement of biopreparedness

Despite a surge in funds available for bioterrorism preparedness over the last decade, a Purdue University study says that local public health resources have not been improved.

The funding has, however, spurred epidemiological activity in health departments that places a key role in the detection of infectious disease risks at the local level.

"Since 1999 the federal government has responded to real and perceived threats of terrorist activity and other public health emergencies by injecting a significant level of resources into developing emergency response capabilities through local and state health departments," George Avery, an assistant professor of health and kinesiology at Purdue, said in a Purdue press release. "Because of the funding influx, even though it was aimed at bioterrorism preparedness, there has been an assumption that health department programming and resources would benefit in general. We found that perceived trickle-down effect to be limited.

"On the positive side, we didn't detect any programs that were suffering because of the emphasis on preparedness and epidemiology."

The funding for bioterrorism preparedness mostly originates from the Department of Health and Human Services, with funds administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Secretary of Health and Human Services' Hospital Preparedness Program.

The CDC allocated $761 million in 2010 to improve state and local preparedness and response to terrorism.

"This reinforces that getting money from Washington, D.C., does not guarantee success, you still need strong, local leadership," Avery said.