Bioterrorism: Summary of a CRS/National Health Policy Forum Seminar on Federal, State, and Local Public Health Preparedness [December 21, 2001]   [open pdf - 67KB]

"The September 11th attack and subsequent intentional release of anthrax spores via the U.S. postal system have focused policymakers' attention on the preparedness and response capability of the nation's public health system. The anthrax attacks put a tremendous strain on the U. S. public health infrastructure, an infrastructure that many experts argue has been weakened by years of neglect and under-funding. To better understand the preparedness gaps that exist, as well as the disparate functions and agencies that define public health in this country, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), in conjunction with George Washington University's National Health Policy Forum (NHPF), convened a seminar on October 26, 2001, entitled, The U.S. Health Care System: Are State and Local Officials Prepared for Bioterrorism? How Should the Federal Government Assist? [...]. Based upon their varied experiences, there was general consensus among all the speakers that public health preparedness, while dependent upon federal financial and other assistance, was largely a local matter. They argued that mending the gaps in the current public health fabric will require significant long-term commitments from the federal government, including investments and improvements in: laboratory capacity, regional planning, workforce training, epidemiology and surveillance systems, information systems, communication systems, and media relations. The panelists stressed that as priorities are set and resources committed, it is imperative that all preparedness efforts be coordinated at all levels of government--federal, state, and local."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31225
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