Decline in U.S. emergency preparedness funding worries experts

The continued decline in federal funding for emergency preparedness programs is expected to constrain the United States' ability to respond to a major public emergency.

Raphael M. Barishansky, the chief of public health emergency preparedness and response for the Prince George's County, Maryland, Department of Public Health, recently decried the steady decline in emergency preparedness funding that has occurred over the last decade, according to

Barishansky argued that funding available from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreements and the Cities Readiness Initiative, in particular, has been decreasing while the demands on public health emergency capabilities have increased.

Over half of the country's local health departments were forced to eliminate or reduce at least one program between July 2010 and June 2011, and 20 percent of these programs were related to emergency preparedness, Barishansky said.

"A continuation of this state of decline will have major implications for public health emergency preparedness efforts and may well result in a decrease in training efforts, an inability to drill or exercise, and/or simply a lack of the resources needed to support the real-world public health emergency responses looming just over the horizon," Barishansky wrote, reports.