Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act

Signed into effect on 12 June 2002, the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, (PHSBPRA) was signed by the President, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Title I: National Preparedness for Bioterrorism and Other Public Health EmergenciesEdit

Title I deals with preparation on the federal, state, and local level for bioterrorism and other public health emergencies such as epidemics.

Subtitle A: National Preparedness and Response Planning, Coordinating, and ReportingEdit

Subtitle A amended the Public Health Service Act to add Title XXVIII: National Preparedness for Bioterrorism and Other Public Health Emergencies. It directed the DHHS, through the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to coordinate a strategy for preparing for and responding to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies, including the preparation of a plan to ensure that the activities of the Secretary regarding bioterrorism and other public health emergencies are coordinated with state and local governments.

It requires the federal government to provide assistance to state and local governments in the event of bioterrorism or other public health emergency and ensure that state and local governments are prepared to detect and respond to such emergencies, including capability for effective public health surveillance and reporting, appropriate laboratory readiness, properly trained and equipped emergency personnel, protection of workers responding to such an emergency, public health agencies that are prepared to coordinate health services during and after emergencies, and participation in communications networks that can publicly and privately disseminate information in a timely and secure manner.

It requires developing and maintaining medical supplies against biological agents that may be involved in an emergency, ensuring coordination and minimizing duplication of federal, state, and local planning, preparedness, response, and investigation of a public health emergency, and enhancing the readiness of hospitals to respond to public health emergencies.

It establishes an Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness in the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate efforts on behalf of the Secretary.

It provides for the operation of a National Disaster Medical System, which is a coordinated effort to provide health and auxiliary services to respond to the needs of victims of a public health emergency or be present at locations that DHHS has determined is at risk of a public health emergency. It establishes an advance registration system of health professions volunteers for verifying credentials during public health emergencies. The NDMS now has over 5,000 civilian volunteers and 1,800 participating hospitals. 55 of the 80 NFMS groups are Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, which respond to public health emergencies in the US and internationally. 10 are Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams, which are responsible for identification and handling of human remains in mass-casualty situations.

It authorizes the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to construct and equip new facilities, renovate existing facilities, and upgrade security in order to better combat threats to public health and support public health activities.

It establishes a system of public health alert communications and surveillance networks between federal, state, and local public health officials, health systems, and any other appropriate entities.

It establishes a temporary National Advisory Committee on Children and Terrorism and an Emergency Public Information and Communications Advisory Committee’, which are to submit recommendations to the DHHS.

The DHHS is to develop materials for teaching recognition and identification of potential bioweapons, to develop materials for planning by state and local governments, health care facilities, and emergency personnel to respond to an emergency, to develop programs for testing laboratory and other public health personnel for preparedness, and to disseminate this information.

It authorizes grants and cooperative agreements to provide loans, scholarships, fellowships, or other forms of assistance for training individuals in any category of health professions for which there is a shortage that the Secretary determines are necessary for proper preparation.

It directs the DHHS Secretary to coordinate with the Secretary of Agriculture, the Attorney General, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Energy, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and other federal officials as appropriate to establish a working group on preparedness for bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.

It also revises provisions concerning antimicrobial resistance.

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