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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Health Group Calls For Better Pandemic Flu Prep

The American Public Health Association (APHA) today voted to adopt new policy that supports comprehensive national planning for an influenza pandemic and recommends key changes to the current response strategy, including ensuring care for vulnerable populations.

The resolution asserts that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), not the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), should be the lead federal agency on issues related to domestic preparedness for and response to pandemic influenza, and HHS should have wide authority to plan for a national response to annual flu epidemics.

The policy also urges federal agencies to rework the National Response Plan, a strategy developed by DHS to enhance the nation's ability to manage domestic emergencies, or to create a different multi-party response framework to ensure that all actors at the federal, state and local levels are coordinated in their response to pandemic flu.

"With the rising threat of an influenza pandemic, we must protect the health of Americans by implementing the appropriate funding and resources," says Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, APHA executive director. "Our nation's public health workers and institutions must be able to rapidly scale-up their efforts to respond to pandemic flu, and we strongly support an associated rise in funding to make that happen."

APHA's policy also recommends:

  • Increasing funding for states, localities, hospitals and public health labs to expand their capacity to respond to pandemic flu;
  • Increasing investment in the public health work force, so there are enough employees necessary to serve on the frontlines in preparing for and responding to a pandemic and annual seasonal epidemics;
  • Creating emergency Medicaid coverage to ensure that uninsured Americans will receive appropriate countermeasures and care in the event of pandemic flu;
  • Creating guidelines for the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions, including handwashing, "snow days," isolation and quarantine;
  • Creating new methods to purchase, distribute and track vaccines and antivirals; and
    Incorporating occupational and mental health issues in pandemic planning and response efforts.

Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest, largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States.


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2:30 PM  

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