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Guidelines for bioterrorism funding announced

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 9, 2003 -- HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced that guidelines have been released for the department's $1.4 billion bioterrorism cooperative agreement program for states, territories and municipalities. The program will help state and local governments upgrade public health infrastructure and health care systems to better prepare for and respond to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.

"Our public health infrastructure is stronger than ever and getting more robust every day," Thompson said. "These cooperative agreements will enhance the ability of communities across the nation to become better prepared to respond to a bioterrorist attack, a naturally occurring disease outbreak, or any other public health emergency."

The Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness (ASPHEP) oversees and coordinates these cooperative agreements, which are awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). CDC administers the public health preparedness awards totaling $870 million while HRSA funds the hospital preparedness cooperative agreements totaling $498 million.

"Each year we are making strides in improving the readiness of the public health departments and the health care systems across the country. We listened to our state and local partners and are providing more comprehensive guidelines for this year's awards," Acting ASPHEP Jerome Hauer said. "This year we are also emphasizing the coordination and blending of CDC and HRSA funded efforts by asking states to integrate their public health and their health care system activities."

CDC's guidance this year focuses on seven areas that include preparedness planning and readiness assessment, surveillance and epidemiology, laboratory capacity for handling biologic agents, laboratory capacity for handling chemical agents, health alert network and information technology, communicating health risks and health information dissemination, and education and training. Interspersed throughout these focus areas are activities related to smallpox preparedness.

"We know every bioterrorism event will occur at the local level and the capacity to respond must be present at both the state and local levels," said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. "We want to ensure meaningful collaboration between state and local public health officials as these investments are made."

The HRSA guidelines for their cooperative agreements outline six priority areas. The areas include governance, regional surge capacity to handle terrorism victims, emergency medical services, hospital linkages to public health departments, education and preparedness training, and terrorism preparedness exercises.

"Our primary focus is to further develop, enhance and upgrade the capacity of regional health care systems to surge up to deal with mass casualties," said HRSA Administration Betty Duke. "The integration of the health care system plans with the public health department plans to respond to terrorism and major health emergencies will be critical."

In March, Secretary Thompson announced the department's bioterrorism funding for Fiscal Year 2003 as well as special provisions that allowed states to request up to 20 percent of their 2003 funding immediately in order to support current activities, including smallpox vaccination for selected health workers and emergency responders.

Following approval of their plans, states, territories and municipalities will receive their share of nearly $1.4 billion in bioterrorism preparedness funding and can continue to strengthen their public health and health care systems, covering the spectrum from stronger disease surveillance to adequate hospital bed and isolation capacities.

A breakdown of funding for each state and three metropolitan areas was released on March 20. The complete set of guidelines will be available on the CDC and HRSA web sites at and respectively.

Source: HHS

Posted: May 2003