Monday, June 6, 2011

AHRQ ending Public Health Preparedness Program on June 30th

I was disappointed to receive the following email today:

AHRQ Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program Announcement

As of June 30, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is discontinuing its Public Health Emergency Preparedness Research Program (PHEP). Since AHRQ began its work in public health emergency preparedness in 2000, the federal government has increased its efforts to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. As preparedness programs have expanded and diversified at the federal level, coordination among them has become more complex and a realignment of federal resources is needed. Activities pursued under AHRQ’s program will continue to be supported by other federal agencies.

AHRQ is currently working with its federal partners to ensure that emergency preparedness materials developed by the agency remain publicly available to emergency planners and responders in the field. The agency is also working to develop a new email subscription list to ensure that subscribers of this AHRQ Update list continue to receive important information on emergency preparedness. Details on how to subscribe to the new list will be sent via this AHRQ Update later this month.

AHRQ is proud of the contributions it has made to the emergency preparedness field and is confident that our federal partners will continue to provide valuable leadership and support. We appreciate the dedication of those in the emergency preparedness community who continue working to keep our nation safe and ready to respond in times of crisis.

I am sad to see this program go. We certainly have come a long way in terms of disaster preparedness, but we still have a lot to learn. As the recent tornadoes that hit my state and several others have shown us, it is vitally important that our first responders and healthcare facilities are prepared for emergencies. There are many trainings and equipment evaluations that may be developed in the future to help disaster response personnel to be more efficient and prepared. Let's hope that another federal agency really does step in and continue to fund these worthwhile projects.

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