05.17.11

Enzi: America Must Continue to Improve Response to Public Health Threats

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a hearing today on strengthening medical and public health preparedness and response, Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said that the while great progress has been made, America must continue to improve its response to public health threats.

“In 2006, our nation took a critical step in shoring up our medical and public health preparedness capabilities when Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act.  We have made tremendous progress in the past five years to ensure that we are ready to meet all known and unknown hazards that threaten the public health our citizens and our national security.  At the same time, there are still gaps in the system that need to be filled and threats yet to be addressed,” said Senator Enzi.  “We have seen first-hand the critical need for a robust and active public health system that is able to anticipate and respond to threats quickly and effectively.  We experienced the H1N1 pandemic that tested our nation’s ability to meet the public health needs of our citizens, learned from the public health emergency response in Haiti, and more recently, took action in helping to mitigate the nuclear crisis in Japan.  We need to take these experiences and incorporate the lessons learned as we continue to strengthen our preparedness and improve our response capabilities.”

Senator Enzi said that one of the areas to improve on is coordination and accountability because it is essential to ensure that federal, state and local entities are working in concert with each other.  He noted that it is critical that roles and responsibilities are well-defined so that there is no uncertainty in a time of crisis and so attention can be focused on the threat at hand.

“Federal, state and local governments alike have risen to the challenges of the past five years, and the people who serve in all levels of government know first-hand the challenges of preparing for and responding to public health threats,” Senator Enzi said.  “I am proud of their work and applaud their often unseen efforts to make sure every citizen is safe in the event of a public health crisis.” 

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