On Public Health Security - April 2015

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Communicating with Congress


On Public Health Security
April 2015
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Stephen C. Redd

Dear Partners,

There are many aspects of our work that contribute to the success of public health preparedness and response. Efforts to communicate our activities with the public, our partners, other governmental agencies, and Congress are all vital. Interactions with Congress offer the opportunity to convey the importance of work we and our partners do. The Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR) interacts with Congress in a number of ways, including hearings, briefings, responding to congressional inquiries, and congressional visits to CDC sites. I want to share with you a few highlights of frequent work with Congress.

Over the past 12 months, PHPR conducted 23 congressional briefings, responded to 32 congressional inquiries, and testified at two major hearings. Congressional hearings are the primary formal means to provide Congress with the latest information about public health preparedness and response. On February 26 of this year, I testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions about "Medical and Public Health Preparedness and Response: Are We Ready for Future Threats?", during which I discussed CDC activities, the state of public health preparedness in the United States and the role of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (PAHPRA).

In addition to hearings, congressional briefings provide a less formal and more frequent interaction to discuss relevant information with policy makers, and are supplemented by many congressional inquiries on the topics of the day. A range of public health preparedness and response matters are shared and discussed during briefings, including such topics as the Ebola response, preparedness, and efforts to address the needs of vulnerable populations. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to meet congressional members and discuss PHPR’s FY 2016 President’s Budget Request, highlighted in February’s On Public Health Security e-Newsletter. Furthermore, congressional inquiries touch on each of PHPR’s divisions, with the majority of questions focusing on replenishment plans for the specific countermeasures of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). These conversations are crucial to help Congress understand public health preparedness and response and the important role PHPR’s programs play in protecting the public.

In addition to hearings and briefings, CDC site visits offer a closer view of public health preparedness and response. These include congressional visits to CDC campuses as well as visits to SNS sites to see first-hand the national repository of critical medicines and medical supplies standing ready to protect the American public. I personally have had the pleasure of hosting a number of congressional members at CDC headquarters here in Atlanta. Typically, these Atlanta visits include a tour of our Emergency Operations Center (EOC), where over 1,000 employees across CDC have supported emergency response activities related to Ebola.

With Congress as PHPR’s authorizer, funder, and overseer, it is important we continue to maintain consistent and effective congressional communications to describe our work and how we address current challenges. As mentioned by Dr. Thomas Frieden in recent congressional testimony, “CDC works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to protect Americans from health threats and save our nation health care dollars through prevention.” This message rings throughout the valuable work we accomplish together and I am proud to be a part of the effort.

Stephen C. Redd, MD
Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Upcoming Events

Association of Public Health Laboratories Annual Meeting

Join APHL and other public health laboratory partners on May 18 – 21 in Indianapolis for the 2015 APHL Annual Meeting and Ninth Government Environmental Laboratory Conference.

Hurricane Preparedness Week

Find out more about preparing for hurricane season during Hurricane Preparedness Week on May 24 – 30. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.

Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists Annual Conference

Connect with more than 1,200 public health epidemiologists at the CSTE Annual Conference on June 14 – 18 in Boston. The conference will include workshops, plenary sessions with leaders in the field of public health, oral breakout sessions, roundtable discussions, and poster presentations.

Noteworthy Updates

Partnerships Ebola Website

Visit the Ebola Response Section of the Partnerships website to get the latest Ebola updates and information for partners.

Additional Resources

Visit the Ebola Community Education Tool Kit to find cleared factsheets, infographics, presentations, and other useful resources for sharing information about Ebola with your community.