NATIONAL. Lawmakers urged to prepare for pandemics (Precision Vaccinations)

By Don Ward Hackett

A coalition of national organizations representing public health, healthcare providers, biotechnology companies, and researchers urged congressional leaders on December 6, 2018, to swiftly approve the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation (PAHPAI) Act of 2018. 

The PAHPAI clarifies the role of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in preparing public health departments for disasters. 

And, this legislation delivers the tools to the CDC to improve biosurveillance capabilities to better detect new threats to Americans. 

And, taking lessons learned from Ebola cases, the bill helps develop specialized hospitals that are capable of responding to extraordinary outbreaks.

“This bill is a great step forward, but I hope we don’t restrict this legislation to perceived pandemic threats,” said Peter Jay Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine.   

“Any new bill should include efforts to address and help the 12 million Americans I estimate living in poverty with neglected tropical diseases,” Dr. Hotez said, the author of Blue Marble Health: An Innovative Plan to Fight Diseases of the Poor amid Wealth. 

The bipartisan reauthorization bill, H.R. 6378/S. 2852, would strengthen America’s defense, preparedness and response to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) attacks, natural disasters, and emerging infectious diseases. 

The groups added that “it would be a setback for our national health security to delay reauthorization until 2019.” 

“We believe that time is of the essence in reauthorizing these important authorities,” wrote members of AABB (formerly known as American Association of Blood Banks); AFSCME; the Alliance for Biosecurity; the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Association on Health and Disability; the American Hospital Association; American Public Health Association; American Society for Microbiology; America’s Blood Centers; the Association of American Medical Colleges; the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs; the Association of Public Health Laboratories; the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC); the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO); California Life Sciences Association; the Chicago Department of Public Health; the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists; Healthcare Ready; Health Industry Distributors Association; Infectious Diseases Society of America; the International Safety Equipment Association; Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security; Los Angeles County Department of Public Health; March of Dimes; the National Association of County and City Health Officials; the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; the TB Alliance; and Trust for America’s Health. 

H.R. 6378 and S. 2852 are under consideration in the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.