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Press Release - 12/18/07

Contact Becky Wexler
(301) 652-1558

Statement of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) on report by the Trust for America’s Health: “Ready or Not Protecting the Public’s Health from Disease, Disaster and Bioterrorism”

Washington, D.C. (December 18, 2007)—
The Trust for America's Health (TFAH) report card on state public health readiness, issued today, documents substantial progress in the nation's preparedness for a public health emergency. The public should be reassured that the national investment is yielding real and measurable results.

The nation's local health departments serve on the front lines, protecting their communities and responding regularly to disease outbreaks and other health threats. Federal funds for public health preparedness administered by the Department of Health and Human Services have enabled them to make great strides. All are much better prepared now than they were prior to 9/11.

Preparedness is a task that will never be completed. It is not surprising that TFAH found differences in preparedness among the states based on the measures used in the report. Local health departments legitimately direct their efforts where they are most needed at any given time. However, as federal funding erodes, it becomes more difficult to meet ever-changing federal expectations and still keep our communities safe and prepared for inevitable public health emergencies.

The first response to any public health emergency takes place locally. In order to sustain progress, local health departments must continue training our local workforce in preparedness and exercising their skills regularly in both real events and drills. We must continue engaging our community partners in both the private and public sectors, all of whom will have roles to play in disaster response. NACCHO shares TFAH's concern that the federal failure to sustain public health preparedness funding jeopardizes our progress.

NACCHO urges Congress and the Administration to recognize that sustained federal funding and consistent federal expectations are essential to prepare the nation for public health emergencies. Diseases recognize neither state nor local boundaries and every link in the local, state and federal chain of protection must be strong.



Becky Wexler
(301) 652-1558