Health agencies receive response funds

Officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Hospitals and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that public health agencies across the country will receive $698.2 million in the current fiscal year to help strengthen their ability to respond to terrorism, including bioterrorism, and natural disasters.

The funds will come via the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement. The cooperative agreement, which was authorized by Congress in 2002, was created to support emergency preparedness nationwide for state and local health departments.

More than $7 billion has been provided to state and local health departments to expand their ability to respond to a public health emergency since the agreement went into effect in 2002. CDC officials, however, note that this did not include funding for the 2009 H1N1 response.

One goal of the agreement for this fiscal year is to address public health needs of at-risk individuals, such as children and adults with chronic medical disorders, in the event of a serious terrorist attack or a natural disaster.

Another goal, CDC officials said, is to improve coordination of state and local government for disaster preparedness and response.

Officials also hope to utilize the funds to develop measurable preparedness and response activities to strengthen community resilience and to mitigate health consequences related to large-scale emergencies.