HHS issues grants to improve preparedness

The Department of Health and Human Services awarded more than $916 million to improve health outcomes for public health threats throughout the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday.

HHS will strengthen preparedness for various public health threats in every state, four of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation and eight U.S. territories.

"Recent events underscore the critical role these preparedness programs play in ensuring our health care and public health systems are poised to respond successfully to emergencies and recover quickly from events like Hurricane Sandy, large explosions such the chemical plant in Texas, or terrorist attacks like the Boston Marathon bombings in April," Nicole Lurie, the HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said.

The Fiscal Year 2013 funding to support public health preparedness and healthcare programs includes more than $584 million for the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement and approximately $332 million for the Hospital Preparedness Program.

"Already in 2013, local and state health agencies have responded to eight food borne outbreaks, two new global diseases, and 37 disaster and emergency declarations, a clear indication of the breadth of threats that public health departments must be capable of responding to," Ali Khan, the director of the CDC's Office for Public Health Preparedness and Response, said.

The CDC administers PHEP funding to improve national health security and advance the preparedness and response capabilities at a territorial, local and state level. HPP funding is administered by the HHS' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

The programs encourage collaboration between health departments and healthcare entities with other preparedness programs to maximize resources and prevent duplicative efforts. The coordination is meant to support whole community planning and improve the efforts of national preparedness.