NEW YORK, NY (March 6, 2013)—The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Children’s Health Fund (CHF), and Save the Children applaud Congress for its recent bipartisan passage of the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (PAHPRA), a bill to improve the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response capabilities for emergencies. Specifically, Senators Mikulski, Harkin, and Burr and Representatives Rogers, Pallone, and Waxman were instrumental in helping pass this legislation and were tireless advocates for the inclusion of pediatric provisions. The measure will now be sent to President Obama for signature.
Children comprise nearly twenty-five percent of the U.S. population, yet in times of disaster their unique needs historically have been unmet. PAHPRA includes several pieces specifically targeted to protect children in the wake of a disaster. Provisions include:
- advancing the legacy of the former National Commission on Children and Disasters (NCCD) by establishing the National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters, which will be responsible for consulting, advising, and evaluating the pediatric countermeasure needs of children in the preparation, response, and recovery from medical disasters;
- codifying NCCD recommendations to ensure that the needs of children are integrated into the National Disaster Medical System, Hospital Preparedness Program awards, exercises or drills funded by state and local cooperative agreements to improve public health security, and training exercises for the Medical Reserve Corps;
- facilitating the development, stockpiling, proper dosing and administration of medical counter measures (MCM) for children and requiring identification of appropriate potential pediatric indications of MCM; and
- requiring that a member of the National Biodefense Science Board, which provides emergency preparedness expertise to the Department of Health and Human Services, have pediatric subject matter expertise.
The former NCCD helped federal leaders focus attention on gaps in disaster planning and delivered practical recommendations to the President and Congress. As a result, important progress has been made at various federal agencies and at the state and local level for children, but not all the recommendations have been fully implemented.
“With the termination of the Commission, the establishment of a new National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters is a significant accomplishment to ensure that progress continues,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, president and co-founder, Children’s Health Fund. “This Committee will bring together federal and non-federal partners to provide critical guidance about our nation’s preparedness to meet the needs of children before, during and after a disaster or public health emergency.”
“As recent events like Hurricane Sandy and the school shooting in Newtown, CT, demonstrate, disasters don’t discriminate—everyone is at risk,” said Dr. Thomas McInerny, president, AAP. “The National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters—a long-standing priority for the Academy— will improve protections for our children at times when our communities are most compromised. Our nation’s pediatricians commend Congress for reauthorizing the landmark Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act to help our nation and its first responders better meet the needs of children during disasters.”
“We as a nation have a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable during disasters: our children,” said Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Save the Children, who chaired the former National Commission on Children and Disasters from 2008 to 2011. “Passage of PHPA is an important step in the right direction and I am particularly pleased with the creation of a National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters, which will help ensure that the medical and health needs of children are not overlooked.”
About the American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.
About Children’s Health Fund
Founded in 1987 by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and pediatrician/advocate Irwin Redlener, M.D., Children’s Health Fund (CHF) is the nation’s leading pediatric provider of mobile-based health care for low-income children and their families. CHF’s mission is to bring health care directly to those in need through the development and support of innovative medical programs, response to public health crises, and the promotion of guaranteed access to health care for all children. For more information, visit www.childrenshealthfund.org.
About Save the Children
Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in 120 countries, including the United States. We aim to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. In times of acute crisis, we mobilize rapid assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. For more information, visit www.savethechildren.org.