Are We Prepared?
The events of September 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks that followed, highlighted the importance of the local, state, and federal public health systems. In 2009-10, the H1N1 influenza pandemic again underscored the importance of communities being prepared for health threats.
Preparing adequately for public health emergencies requires continual and coordinated efforts that involve every level of government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and individuals. CDC plays a pivotal role in efforts to prepare our nation for all types of public health threats.
Each year, CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR) receives approximately $1.3 billion from Congress to build and strengthen national preparedness for public health emergencies caused by natural, accidental, or intentional events.
Congress appropriates the majority of this funding for two programs, the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement and the Strategic National Stockpile. PHPR allocates the remainder of the funding to preparedness programs across CDC.
Congress also provided emergency supplemental funding to address preparedness needs related to specific health threats, such as pandemic influenza.
Progress made but challenges remain
Federal investments in public health preparedness have resulted in significant accomplishments at the local, state, and federal levels. However, many challenges still remain. Being prepared to prevent, respond to, and recover from all types of public health threats requires further improvements in public health capabilities at local, state, and federal levels.
For more details on progress and challenges,
- See 2011 article by Dr. Ali S. Khan, director of CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, in a special 9/11 ten-year anniversary issue of Lancet
- See CDC's 2010 state-by-state preparedness report
15 public health preparedness capabilitiesCDC continues to work to better define what it means to be prepared for all types of public health threats. To help public health officials better prioritize their preparedness efforts, CDC identified 15 capabilities as the basis for state and local public health preparedness.
For details, see Public Health Preparedness Capabilities: National Standards for State and Local Planning.
Measuring and reporting on state preparedness
CDC has developed and continues to design annual performance measures that are indicators of preparedness and response capabilities. These performance measures align with the objectives of the National Health Security Strategy as well as the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Actand help support program improvement through monitoring, targeted technical assistance, and training.
The 50 states, 4 localities, and 8 U.S. insular areas that receive funding from CDC's Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement must submit data on annual performance measures to CDC.
CDC is committed to publicly reporting on these performance measures and progress in other PHEP-funded activities that improve the nation's ability to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. Preparedness reports demonstrate results, drive program improvements, and increase accountability for federal investments. CDC annual reports can be found here.
Moving forward: Strategy for improving state and local preparednessState and local health departments are first responders for public health emergencies, and CDC remains committed to strengthening their preparedness. CDC has identified the areas listed below for improving state and local preparedness.
- Maintain preparedness gains and resolve gaps
- Build on the successes and lessons learned from the response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic
- Ensure continuous funding to build and maintain a skilled state and local public health workforce
- Expand performance measurement to assess and monitor preparedness activities and to drive program improvement and accountability
For more details on each of these recommendations, refer to CDC's 2010 state-by-state preparedness report.