12.18.07

Burr Celebrates Anniversary Of Pandemic And All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA)

Visit To Department Of Health And Human Services Marks Anniversary

Senator Richard Burr toured the Secretary's Operation Center (SOC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, DC today to celebrate the one year anniversary of the enactment of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) (P.L. 109-417). The SOC serves as the central point of communication and coordination for the Secretary of Health and Human Services in responding to disasters, emergencies, and ongoing health threats such as bird flu. The tour was led by RADM Craig Vanderwagen, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS, a position created in PAHPA.

"I am pleased to see some great progress has been made a year after PAHPA was enacted, and I'm glad our efforts are producing some promising results," Burr said. "Improving public health emergency coordination is very important. In North Carolina, the progress made by the Division of Public Health and groups like WakeMed show that state, local and private entities can better protect the public's health in future emergencies."

"We have done some amazing things here at HHS as a result of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act," Vanderwagen said. "We're cutting new ground and we're seeing the future developing in front of our eyes."

On December 19, 2006, the President signed into law the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (P.L. 109-417) after thirteen public hearings and roundtables chaired by Senator Burr, including one in New Orleans, Louisiana. By building on the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and the attacks on September 11, 2001, this law improves the nation's public health and medical preparedness and response capabilities for emergencies.

PAHPA empowers the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the public more effectively and efficiently by responding to public health emergencies with a clear line of authority from local to state to federal officials. It also speeds up the development of drugs and vaccines to protect the American people from health emergencies by establishing the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

"I believe we are better prepared than we were in 2001 to face future threats. It is critical we provide HHS with the necessary resources necessary to continue to get the job done," Burr said.