Washington, DC— The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) praises the United States House of Representatives for its bipartisan passage tonight of the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (PAHPRA). The House vote follows similar action by the U.S. Senate last week. The measure will now be sent to President Obama for signature into law.
PAHPRA renews the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act, signed in 2006 by then-President George W. Bush to improve the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response capabilities for emergencies.
“Children are not just small adults; they have unique needs that must be addressed before, during and after a disaster strikes," said AAP President Thomas K. McInerny, MD, FAAP. “Congress’ bipartisan reauthorization of the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act demonstrates our national commitment to protect our children in the event of a disaster.”
One of PAHPRA’s most significant advancements for children is its establishment of a National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters. Proposed by Chairwoman of the Children and Families Subcommittee Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the Committee will provide advice to the federal government and states on pediatric emergency preparedness and response as well as provide input on children’s needs in preparation for, response to and recovery from all-hazards events.
“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,” said Dr. McInerny. “Senator Mikulski’s leadership and tireless advocacy was instrumental in maintaining the Advisory Committee in the final bill and ensuring that children’s needs were prioritized every step of the way.”
PAHPRA contains several additional noteworthy child-focused provisions supported by the AAP that will impact the nation’s preparedness capacity for children, including:
- an increased focus on the needs of children within grant programs authorized under PAHPRA;
- a requirement 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; and
- provisions to help advance the development of medical countermeasures for children by maximizing existing pediatric drug testing laws and increasing pediatric expertise at federal agencies.
“As recent events like Hurricane Sandy and the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut demonstrate, disasters don’t discriminate—everyone is at risk,” said Dr. McInerny. “Now is the time to come together and build more prepared and resilient communities. 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.”
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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.