Breathing Easier?: Report of The Century Foundation Working Group on Bioterrorism Preparedness
Publication Date: January 2005
Author(s): The Century Foundation
After the anthrax attacks of 2001, Congress enacted the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act. The act authorized close to $1 billion in 2002 for public health at the state and local levels, with additional funding in later years. The Century Foundation commissioned two reports—a national survey of state and local health officials and an in-depth study of Illinois—and convened a working group of public health experts and state and local public health officials to examine the impact of these federal funds on bioterrorism preparedness and on the U.S. public health system. The examination concluded that the funding enabled significant improvements in the public health system but that important vulnerabilities remain.
In this report, the working group offers six recommendations to help strengthen the public health system through use of federal bioterrorism funding. The recommendations address the following needs:
1. Clear definition of public health preparedness and the development of minimum national standards;
2. Define what local public health capabilities should be;
3. Modernize laws governing responses to public health emergencies and public health investigations;
4. Enlarge the public health workforce and upgrade its skills;
5. Non-interrupted flow of federal and state funding to sustain system improvements; and
6. Balance between biological attack preparation and the maintenance and expansion of other key public health functions.
The report includes evidence supporting the recommendations, supplemented by brief case study examples.