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NACCHO Warns that Recent Cuts to Preparedness Funding Put Americans at Greater Risk


Becky Wexler

NACCHO Warns that Recent Cuts to Preparedness Funding Put Americans at Greater Risk

Major reduction in emergency preparedness funding hobbles strides toward disaster readiness

Washington, D.C. (May 18, 2011)—The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) thinks that recent cuts of $107 million in federal public health preparedness funding erodes capacity to protect people in communities nationwide.

For nearly 10 years following the terrorist and anthrax attacks in September 2001, our nation’s local health departments have used federal preparedness funding to lead and train people in businesses, schools, hospitals, and senior centers to respond effectively to a range of disasters and threats. This work, by necessity, is ongoing to ensure they will be ready to spring into action when the next disaster strikes. Preparedness funding cuts mean that fewer trained professionals and volunteers will be ready to protect people and respond to health threats and emergencies, from floods to disease outbreaks to bioterrorist attacks. Emergency preparedness requires dedicated and sustained resources and an established local team that plans, trains, and practices regularly.

"These cuts undermine communities nationwide and the local health departments that serve them,” said NACCHO Executive Director Robert M. Pestronk. “Without sustained preparedness funding, continued progress is unreliable and the risk of being caught off guard increases.”

Local health departments continue to face shrinking budgets and diminished capacity due to the economic downturn and budget pressures on federal, state and local governments. NACCHO’s most recent survey of its members showed that in 2009-2010, 40 percent of local health departments cut or reduced programs or services, including emergency preparedness efforts and preventive health services.

About the National Association of County and City Health Officials
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation's 2,800 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities.