By Tom Daschle and Bill Frist
Nearly two decades ago, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) to protect our country and prepare for natural disasters and biological, chemical and radiological threats. Since then, the provisions enacted in that legislation and subsequent reauthorizations have proven critical to shoring up our public health infrastructure and protecting our national health security.
With PAHPA up for reauthorization again this year, we applaud the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and House Energy & Commerce Committees for beginning the critical work of ensuring that our nation’s preparedness programs are properly funded, sustained and improved.
The origins of PAHPA lie in our country’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks that followed shortly thereafter. We intimately experienced these attacks, as one of the sitting members targeted with anthrax via the mail (Daschle) and the Senate’s public spokesman on anthrax and bioterrorism charged with easing public fears (Frist).
Together, we worked to build the legislative framework to respond to this new threat. In 2002, Congress passed the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, establishing the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, which was responsible for coordinating efforts to prepare for bioterrorism and other public health threats. Today, those efforts are run by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Strategic Readiness and Response.
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