HHS doles $1.3B for bioterror

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide $1.3 billion to states, territories and four metropolitan areas to upgrade their infectious disease surveillance systems, expand public health laboratory and communications capabilities and improve connectivity among hospitals and local and state health departments to enhance disease reporting.

Federal funds will also help enhance hospital readiness and enable the health care system to deal with mass casualties. The efforts are all intended to support the National Response Plan, which standardizes a federal response coordinated with state, local and tribal jurisdictions to any man-made or natural disaster or incident, and the interim National Preparedness Goal, which outlines standards for how officials nationwide should respond to terrorist attacks and other major emergencies.

Through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about $862.8 million will be distributed to help the public health community prepare and response to a bioterrorism event, infectious disease outbreaks, and other related emergencies by emphasizing integrated response systems.

CDC funding will be used to increase the number of state laboratories as certified to test chemical agents and to help 20 border states near Canada and Mexico to develop and implement an early warning infectious disease surveillance program. Twenty-one pilot cities in the Cities Readiness Initiative, which will be expanded to an additional 15 cities, will also get funding to help them dispense medications to their residents during a public health emergency.

Through the Health Resources and Services Administration, states will get about $471 million to develop surge capacity to deal with mass casualty events. This includes several things including communications and personal protective equipment.

Last year, HHS provided a total $1.3 billion to the states, territories and four major metropolitan areas for preparedness activities.

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