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08-07-2012 | Article

HHS awards almost $ 1 billion to emergency preparedness

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MedWire News: The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is contributing $ 971 million in grants to hospital-based and public health disaster preparedness services throughout the USA and its territories.

The grants include approximately $ 352 million awarded to the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) cooperative agreement and about $ 619 million awarded to the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement.

"Healthcare and public health systems that are prepared to respond successfully to emergencies and recover quickly from all hazards are also able to deliver services more effectively and efficiently every day," said Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR), in a statement.

"Having systems in place to provide better treatment for disaster survivors and improved public health for our communities also leads to better health outcomes on a day-to-day basis," she continued.

The HPP supports: healthcare system planning and emergency response through funding of programs at the state, local, and territorial levels; preparedness, response and surge capacity of healthcare facilities by assisting with private and public sector medical planning; and state, local, and territorial infrastructure improvements to enhance emergency response.

The PHEP, administered by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides grants to state, local, tribal, and territorial public health departments for more effective response to myriad public health threats, including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events.

To encourage cooperation between public and private healthcare systems, HHS is, for the first time, awarding HPP and PHEP funds jointly.

"State and local agencies have made tremendous progress over the past decade in building and sustaining public health and healthcare preparedness capabilities," said Lurie. "The integration fostered by HPP and PHEP alignment is important in streamlining and strengthening the day-to-day relationships and cross-sector cooperation that are critical to achieving a resilient health system ready to face any health hazard and capable of providing the affordable, high-quality daily care that all Americans deserve."

By Neil Osterweil