Public Health

3 pandemic preparedness story angles to discover


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Whereas many people could also be weary of writing pandemic tales, journalists ought to proceed overlaying pandemic threats; one other one could possibly be brewing due to local weather change, altering international safety circumstances and the potential for bioterrorism, public well being specialists say. 

“We should be ready for one thing that’s worse than COVID,” Tom Inglesby, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Middle for Well being Safety on the Bloomberg College of Public Well being, mentioned at a March 31 Capitol Hill Steering Committee on Pandemic Preparedness & Well being Safety briefing for lawmakers’ workers and media.

One solution to hold writing about pandemics is to cowl this 12 months’s Congressional debate on the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act (PAHPA) — one of many few must-pass measures on Congress’s plate that might authorize continued funding of lots of the federal authorities’s efforts to arrange for an additional pandemic, reported Lauren Clasen for Roll Name.

Amongst many issues, the invoice would direct funding for hospital preparedness, surge capability for medical personnel in an emergency public well being state of affairs and funding in medical therapies for potential pandemic threats — all areas ripe with information hooks for tales.

For instance, the American Hospital Affiliation, which represents 5,000 of the nation’s hospitals and well being methods, urged Congress to help the PAHPA invoice to assist replenish funds to shore up hospital sources in preparation for future public well being emergencies. Localize this story by writing about how and why federal hospital preparedness {dollars} can be used to arrange for an additional public well being emergency and what it will imply if these funds weren’t obtainable. You could find American Hospital Affiliation media contacts right here.

A enterprise story might concentrate on how the Well being and Human Providers Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is working to fund home manufacturing of private protecting gear (PPE), like masks and gloves, to stop the unfold of contagious infectious respiratory ailments.

Through the starting of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been virtually no home producers of PPE, and well being care suppliers and companies needed to watch for provides from different nations. Final 12 months, the Biden administration elevated ASPR to an operational function to ensure the nation’s medical provide chain — like PPE’s — are ample. The company’s persevering with operational authority is into account as a part of PAHPA’s reauthorization. The media contact at ASPR is Elleen Kane. Her e-mail tackle is  [email protected].

“Please don’t let PAHPA expire,” former Well being and Human Providers Secretary Kathleen Sebelius mentioned throughout the March 31 steering committee briefing. She added that COVID-19 confirmed the nation that “well being crises will topple our economic system.”

A nationwide angle to contemplate is how the White Home organizes federal management for pandemic response sooner or later. Beneath a regulation handed on the finish of 2022, the White Home was directed by Congress to create a everlasting workplace of pandemic preparedness and response coverage, in order that international well being threats stay a prime precedence for any administration. Earlier than the pandemic, each president, starting with Invoice Clinton, had a revolving door of world well being advisors employed to reply to a illness risk;the place was downgraded or deserted when the risk had handed.

STAT reported on April 6 that the construction of the brand new workplace is “beneath evaluate,” however nothing has been created but. With the general public well being emergency ending on Might 11, the White Home’s present COVID-19 Response Coordinator, Ashish Jha, M.D., M.P.H., is prone to depart and return to Brown College the place he was dean of public well being earlier than becoming a member of the administration and the response workforce shall be disbanded.

“The issue is that nobody actually desires to consider pandemics between after they happen,” Ken Bernard, who labored in biodefense coverage in each the Clinton and George W. Bush White Homes, informed STAT.

However the White Home is legally required to create a brand new pandemic workplace. For a media contact, e-mail [email protected]. Right here’s a reporter tip from after I coated Congress and the White Home: White Home press usually received’t reply questions straight. I like to recommend calling the press workplace of the lawmaker overseeing a coverage situation. On this case, you’ll contact Washington state’s U.S. Senator Patty Murray. Her communications director is Amir Avin, who can reached at 202-224-2621. Murray is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees the purse strings of the federal authorities.

For extra background on PAHPA, watch this 45-minute video of the Capitol Hill Steering Committee on Pandemic Preparedness & Well being Safety on March 31. 



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