• Sat. Jun 3rd, 2023

We know firsthand: Public wellness safety is national safety


May 26, 2023

Almost two decades ago, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) to guard our nation and prepare for all-natural disasters and biological, chemical and radiological threats. Considering the fact that then, the provisions enacted in that legislation and subsequent reauthorizations have verified vital to shoring up our public wellness infrastructure and defending our national wellness safety. 

With PAHPA up for reauthorization once more this year, we applaud the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Well being, Education, Labor and Pensions and Home Power &amp Commerce Committees for starting the vital function of making sure that our nation’s preparedness applications are correctly funded, sustained and enhanced.

The origins of PAHPA lie in our country’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks that followed shortly thereafter. We intimately knowledgeable these attacks, as 1 of the sitting members targeted with anthrax via the mail (Daschle) and the Senate’s public spokesman on anthrax and bioterrorism charged with easing public fears (Frist).

Collectively, we worked to create the legislative framework to respond to this new threat. In 2002, Congress passed the Public Well being Safety and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, establishing the Workplace of Public Well being Emergency Preparedness, which was accountable for coordinating efforts to prepare for bioterrorism and other public wellness threats. Nowadays, these efforts are run by the Division of Well being and Human Service’s Administration for Strategic Readiness and Response.

4 years later, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed PAHPA to bolster our emergency preparedness and response capabilities by authorizing quite a few of the federal government’s biodefense and pandemic preparedness applications, such as the agency now identified as the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, the National Well being Safety Strategy and the Biomedical Sophisticated Analysis and Improvement Authority. With bipartisan reauthorizations in 2013 and 2019, PAHPA established new applications to boost our nation’s emergency response, including Project BioShield, and enacted measures to strengthen the part of the Meals and Drug Administration in the improvement of health-related countermeasures.

Considering the fact that PAHPA’s inception and subsequent reauthorizations, each Republicans and Democrats showed overwhelming help for strengthening our nation’s preparedness for the complete variety of all-natural or manmade threats and hazards. Defending our nation’s wellness and nicely-becoming must not be a partisan concern, and we get in touch with on our leaders to continue that bipartisan tradition.

This year will mark the initial time Congress will be tasked with reauthorizing PAHPA following the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress should take the lessons we’ve discovered more than the previous 3 years to boost our nation’s preparedness capabilities ahead of the subsequent pandemic — as it is not a query of if, but when, the subsequent 1 will happen. We urge Congress to steer clear of becoming distracted by previous partisan fights or tangential policy troubles. Our nation’s preparedness is as well significant to jeopardize, and these vital applications should not be permitted to lapse.   

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Congress has taken meaningful methods to increase our public wellness preparedness all through the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the enactment of the bipartisan PREVENT Pandemics Act in final year’s omnibus appropriations package. Congress has shown, time and time once more, that it recognizes the basic significance of fortifying our defenses against disasters and public wellness crises. Even so, a great deal remains to be carried out. 

We urge Congress to capitalize on this momentum to bolster our national safety and boost our public wellness preparedness by reauthorizing PAHPA prior to its expiration on Oct. 1.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), a Bipartisan Policy Center co-founder, served in the Senate from 1987 to 2005 and as Senate majority leader from 2001 to 2003. Former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a BPC senior fellow, is a doctor. He served in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 and as Senate majority leader from 2003 to 2007.

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