CDC awards funds for new pandemic planning approaches

Sep 25, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday announced the awarding of $24 million to fund state and local projects aimed at innovative approaches to boost the nation's readiness for an influenza pandemic.

The 1-year grants will fund 55 projects in 29 state and local health departments, according to a CDC press release. The $24 million award pool is part of $600 million in Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Cooperative Agreement funding approved by Congress in 2006.

Richard Besser, MD, director of the CDC's Coordinating Center for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response, said in the statement, "What is learned from these projects can benefit everyone, because it could improve national, regional, and local public health detection and response to a pandemic involving influenza."

The 55 projects were selected from 184 funding applications, the CDC said. Eligibility was limited to 62 state, local, and territorial public health departments that receive funding through PHEP cooperative agreements. Recipients have 1 year from Sep 30 to complete the projects.

The recipients' pandemic preparedness projects focus on seven main areas:

  • Public engagement during public health decision-making
  • Electronic exchange of laboratory data to improve influenza pandemic monitoring
  • Integration of state immunization information systems to track countermeasure distribution
  • Development of statewide electronic death reporting systems that are compatible with the Public Health Information Network
  • Coordination among healthcare providers to deliver essential services
  • Interventions to promote preparedness among vulnerable populations
  • Distribution of antiviral drugs to people who stay in their homes as a social distancing measure

Statewide totals for the awards range from $144,000 for projects in Ohio that address one of the focus areas to more than $2 million for Minnesota efforts that address five of the areas.

The CDC said the $24 million is part of $600 million in PHEP supplemental funding that was distributed in three phases beginning in 2006. The agency said the funding focus has been "practical, community-based procedures that could prevent or delay the spread of an influenza pandemic."

Rich Hamburg, director of governmental relations for Trust for America's Health (TFAH), a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington, DC, told CIDRAP News that the projects are appealing because they're geared toward sharing ideas with a quick research turnaround. "This is a key piece on CDC's end," he said.

However, Hamburg said the $24 million in grants represents the final installment of pandemic planning support to states and localities from the fiscal year 2006 PHEP funding.

"The last of the money is going out the door for state and local pandemic planning. The well has dried up," he said. Compounding TFAH's ongoing concern about federal support for pandemic planning is that all-hazards preparedness funding has been shrinking over the past few years, Hamburg added.

Of the $7 billion in total pandemic preparedness funding over the past 3 years, about $870 million remains for measures such as vaccine research and development, he said. "But whatever advocacy we do—and vaccines and antivirals are important—we need to talk about other things, too. We need more resources," Hamburg said.

See also:

Sep 24 CDC press release

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