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Advocacy and Related Efforts

 

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he American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is deeply involved in efforts to ensure that children's needs are recognized and incorporated into disaster preparedness and response. Each time a disaster occurs, it demonstrates all too clearly that children's needs have not been planned for or addressed appropriately.

The AAP is committed to engaging with policymakers at the federal, state, and local level to ensure that children are protected and provided for in all types of disasters. The AAP Department of Federal Affairs is a leading member of the National Coalition on Children and Disasters. The Coalition advocates on behalf of policies that ensure the well-being of children and their families in the preparation for, response to, and recovery from natural or man-made disasters in the United States. Learn more about AAP Federal Advocacy efforts.

Testimony

May 17, 2012 – Testimony by Michael R. Anderson, MD, FAAP
Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Dr Anderson spoke about the unique needs of children during disasters, the ethical imperative of including children in clinical trials, and the need for medications and supplies that are designed for children in the Strategic National Stockpile. Dr Anderson stated that the AAP agreed with the recommendations of the National Preparedness and Response Science Board on the collection of pre-event data on anthrax vaccine adsorbed, stressing that pediatric experts must be involved in the design and implementation of any studies involving children.

May 17, 2011 – Testimony by Michael R. Anderson, MD, FAAP
A Nation Prepared: Strengthening Medical and Public Health Preparedness and Response – US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions

April 13, 2011 – Testimony by Daniel B. Fagbuyi, MD, FAAP
Taking Measure of Countermeasures (Part 1) – US House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness

AAP Legislative Priorities (112th Congress)

Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act Reauthorization
The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) became law in 2006 and aimed to improve public health and medical preparedness for man-made and natural disasters. The original law includes no specific provisions for children.

Both chambers of Congress are moving forward on reauthorizing this legislation. On the Senate side, bipartisan legislation, S 1855, makes great strides in addressing the needs of children during disasters. It requires that the National Preparedness and Response Science Board have a pediatric subject matter expert and contains a new emphasis on increasing the development and labeling of pediatric medical countermeasures at the US Food and Drug Administration and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. This bill has passed the Senate by unanimous consent, meaning it was not controversial. The AAP endorsed this bill.

The House of Representatives version of the bill, HR 2405, contains pediatric-focused provisions regarding hospital preparedness and a plan for pediatric medical countermeasures. The House passed this bill, with at least two-thirds of the members supporting this noncontroversial legislation.

House and Senate members will work out differences between the bills before the final legislation is sent to President Obama to sign into law. The AAP will continue to be involved in this process to ensure that the needs of children are addressed.

Stafford Act
Bipartisan legislation, S 1630, the Disaster Recovery Act of 2011, has been introduced in the Senate to reform the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and improve disaster recovery programs.

Regarding children, the bill would reform the Stafford Act by doing the following:
  • Elevating child care to an essential and critical community service, providing for the establishment of temporary child care facilities, and integrating schools and child care centers into evacuation plans and exercises.
  • Stipulating that housing sites determined by the President be accessible or convenient to schools and child care.
  • Specifying children as a planning imperative for Federal, state, and local government.
As a member of the National Coalition on Children and Disasters, the AAP has endorsed the child-focused provisions of this legislation.

Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Authorization Act , S 1546, has been introduced in the Senate. Since the inception of DHS in 2003, the department has yet to be reauthorized. The bipartisan bill implements more extensive reporting requirements, aims to strengthen the disaster recovery workforce, and requires the development of a communication plan with residents in the vicinity of a nuclear, biological, radiological, or chemical incident. The bill does not contain specific pediatric provisions. The bill has been considered and approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

In the House of Representatives, HR 3116, the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, has been introduced and passed by the House Homeland Security Committee. Among other things, the bill creates a new program to prevent nuclear or radiological attacks in high-risk metropolitan areas.

Neither the full House nor Senate has taken up the reauthorization bills, and it is unclear when further action on the issue might occur.


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