HHS announces $613 million in 2011 preparedness grants

Aug 15, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – Federal health agencies today announced $613 million in grants to states and cities for this year's round of public health emergency preparedness funding, plus another $49 million in grants partly designated to boost epidemiology and laboratory capacity at state health departments.

The $613 million is being awarded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement, which supports state, local, and territorial health departments.

This year's PHEP funding is part of a series of preparedness allocations that Congress provided in response to the terrorist attacks of 2001. The amounts have gradually declined over the years, and this year's total is down from $698 million awarded last year.

In an e-mailed press release, the CDC said this year's grants are intended to improve public health preparedness for lab testing, surveillance and epidemiologic investigation, community preparedness, medical countermeasure dispensing, responder safety and health, emergency operations coordination, emergency public information and warnings, and other capabilities.

The grant amounts are based on population. For the states, this year's awards range from $41.7 million for California to $5.17 million each for South Dakota and Wyoming.

The reduction in PHEP grants this year reflects the fiscal year 2011 budget agreement reached in April, which required the CDC to cut its budget by $750 million, said Laura Segal, public affairs director for Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit public health advocacy group based in Washington, DC.

"Those cuts mean lots of losses of trained pubic health workers and capacity all over the country," Segal told CIDRAP News. "We've already seen about 15% of the local public health workforce lost in the past couple of years. . . . It's having a real impact."

She said CDC support for state and local public health preparedness funding this year is about 35% lower than in 2005, adjusted for inflation.

In the other grant announcement, the CDC said the $49 million is intended to support the ability of state and local public health agencies to conduct epidemiologic and lab work, prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), and support immunization programs. Part of the money is provided under the Affordable Care Act, the agency said.

The CDC said the total includes $35.8 million in Prevention and Public Health Fund dollars and $3.8 million in additional CDC funds to increase epidemiology, lab, and health information systems capacity in all 50 states, two territories, and six urban areas.

"This funding will be used to create jobs, enabling the hiring and training of epidemiologists, laboratory scientists and health information specialists in the field of infectious diseases," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in the press release. "These are experts who often work behind the scenes in health care to fight disease and keep us healthy."

Of the remaining money, close to $9 million is aimed at HAIs, the CDC said. The money will help states coordinate their prevention efforts, implement multifacility programs, improve monitoring of antimicrobial use, and enhance electronic reporting of HAIs.

Another $600,000 will be used to support states' immunization infrastructure and programs. "These dollars will strengthen the evidence base for immunization programs and policy by supporting important evaluations on the effectiveness of various vaccines," the CDC statement said.

See also:

Aug 15 HHS press release on $49 million in grants, with link to list of grant amounts

May 19 CIDRAP News story on effects of cuts under budget agreement reached in April

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