Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement today after her legislation, the Pandemic All Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization (PAHPA), passed the House and will now be signed into law by the president. The bill, which originally passed the House in January by a 395 to 29 vote, reflects technical changes made by the Senate-approved version. PAHPA reauthorizes the critical programs that protect our national security and public health from chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack.
"Developing and stockpiling appropriate countermeasures is essential for public safety, and these programs encourage our homegrown companies to invest in areas of critical need," said Rep. Eshoo, an original cosponsor of the legislation. "While the hope is that we never need to use these countermeasures to combat an attack, I'm proud that we've strengthened these programs for everyone in our country, especially children."
The reauthorization passed by the House today includes new provisions that highlight the important needs of children. Although children represent nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population, the nation is unprepared to address their needs fully in the case of a disaster or public health emergency. According to the National Commission on Children and Disaster 2010 Report, the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), intended to provide the public with medicine and medical supplies in the event of a public health emergency, "is woefully under-stocked with medical countermeasures for children."
Specifically, the new provisions:
Improve hospital preparedness to deal with a spike in pediatric patients. The bill amends the Hospital Preparedness Program, which provides grants to enhance hospital emergency preparedness, to state that grant applicants should have the capacity to handle a sudden and steep increase in the number of pediatric patients being treated in their emergency rooms in the event of an emergency.
Identify gaps in the Strategic National Stockpile and develop a plan to address them. The bill instructs the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Response (ASPR) to identify pediatric gaps in the SNS, intended to provide the public with medicine and medical supplies in the event of an emergency, and to develop a plan to address those gaps. The ASPR will provide an annual progress report to Congress.
Expand the availability of pediatric countermeasures. Accelerate the development of medical countermeasures, including for pediatric populations, by strengthening the Federal Drug Administration's role in reviewing products for national security priorities.