HHS grants bolster disaster preparedness


The US Department of Health and Human Services has awarded more than $840 million to continue improving emergency preparedness of state and local public health and health care systems.

These systems are vital to protecting health and saving lives during a disaster.

“Community and state preparedness is essential to the health security of all Americans,” said Dr Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR).

“Events in the last few years have demonstrated how critical it is for health systems across the country to be ready and able to respond quickly and effectively.”

The grant funds are distributed through two federal preparedness programs – the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) programs.

These programs represent critical sources of funding and support for the nation’s health care and public health systems, said HHS in a release.

“The programs provide resources needed to ensure that local communities can respond effectively to infectious disease outbreaks, natural disasters, or chemical, biological, or radiological nuclear events,” it added.

The fiscal year 2014 funding awards include a total of $228.5 million for HPP and $611.75 million for PHEP.

Administered by ASPR, HPP funding supports building sustainable community health care coalitions that collaborate on emergency planning and, during disasters share resources and partner to meet the health and medical needs of their community.

Administered by CDC, PHEP funding is used to advance public health preparedness and response capabilities at the state and local level.

HPP and PHEP funding helps recipients build and sustain public health and health care preparedness capabilities outlined in ASPR’s Healthcare Preparedness Capabilities: National Guidance for Healthcare System Preparedness and CDC’s Public Health Preparedness Capabilities: National Standards for State and Local Planning.

These documents establish core capabilities, such as medical surge, information sharing, and emergency operations, critical to an effective response for emergencies.

This marks the third year that HPP and PHEP funds are being awarded jointly, encouraging further cooperation between the nation’s health care and public health systems, and reducing the administrative burden on grantees.

With aligned HPP and PHEP cooperative agreement programs, communities can conduct more effective joint planning, exercising, and program operations. These activities are vital for communities to prepare, respond, and recover from emergencies, and help communities manage health care and public health on a daily basis.

The aligned HPP and PHEP cooperative agreements encourage state and local public health departments to work collaboratively with federal health and preparedness programs in their jurisdictions to maximize resources and prevent duplicative efforts.

Such coordination of activities with emergency management and homeland security programs support “whole community” planning to improve national preparedness efforts.

HHS, US, Nicole Lurie