A group that monitors critical emergency preparedness programs says some Iowa programs face serious cuts in federal funding. Rich Hamburg, deputy director of Trust For America’s Health, says the programs include those that detect and respond to bioterrorism, disease outbreaks and natural disasters.
Hamburg says one such program involves the distribution of vaccines during a public health emergency, like pandemic flu. “Des Moines is one of the cities that would face cuts under the City Readiness Initiative,” Hamburg says. “Potentially, we’re looking at a $12-million cut in a $62-million program over the past year. Some of the newer cities that were added, like Des Moines, could get cut from that program.”
He says federal budget cuts are jeopardizing the emergency preparedness capabilities of public health departments in Iowa and nationwide. “We just had a pandemic flu outbreak two years ago,” Hamburg says, “so the timing couldn’t be worse.”
Cuts at the federal level in these areas date back to 2003, he says, as a multi-state agreement that peaked at $1-billion dollars is down to $658-million under the budget plan that was approved last week.
“That’s a 38% decrease if you factor in inflation just in the last five years,” Hamburg says. “In addition, there are cuts for public health programs at the state level and in Iowa is one of 40 states that had a decrease in funding this past year, in fact, a rather large cut of 16%.”
The report on the subject from Trust For America’s Health is called: “Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism.” See the online version at the website: www.healthyamericans.org.