Legislation will have a significant impact on national preparedness capacity for children
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) praised the United States Senate for its bipartisan passage of the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2011 (PAHPRA).
PAHPRA contains many new child-focused provisions championed by the AAP, including an increased focus on the needs of children within grant programs authorized under PAHPRA. The bill also contains a new emphasis on increasing the development and labeling of pediatric medical countermeasures at the Food and Drug Administration and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These provisions will significantly impact the nation’s preparedness capacity for children.
“Children are not just small adults; they have unique needs that must be addressed before, during and after a disaster strikes," said AAP President Robert W. Block, MD, FAAP. “This bill provides a strong foundation for devoting new federal attention to infants, children and adolescents. We know that pediatricians will respond to treat children during a disaster; PAHPRA will help pediatricians get the medicines they need to give children the right doses at the right time.”
PAHPRA includes a requirement that a member of the National Biodefense Science Board have pediatric subject matter expertise. Additionally, the bill establishes a National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters that will provide advice and consultation to the federal government and the states on pediatric emergency preparedness and response as well as evaluate and provide input on the medical and public health needs of children as they relate to preparation for, response to, and recovery from all-hazards.
“As Chairwoman of the Children and Families Subcommittee, my top priority is to keep children safe,” Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said. “That’s why I’m so proud to get this bill passed. It makes sure the unique needs of children are included in disaster planning. The HHS Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters will improve protection of our children in times of disasters when our communities are most challenged. We hope countermeasures for children are never needed. But it’s good to know that we can rely on them being there when they are most needed to save the lives of our children.”
“The AAP strongly supports the establishment of a National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters at HHS,” said Dr. Block. “The creation of an Advisory Committee has been a top priority of the AAP during the reauthorization of PAHPRA, and the Academy thanks Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) for her leadership in championing this proposal.”
Terminated in April, the National Commission on Children and Disasters, which included three pediatrician commissioners, focused attention on gaps in disaster planning and delivered recommendations to the president and Congress. While disappointed by the Commission’s termination, the AAP is pleased that the National Advisory Committee will help ensure that its progress continues by bringing together federal and non-federal partners to recommend how best to meet the needs of children during disasters.
“The AAP commends the U.S. Senate and the leadership of Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Ranking Member Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.), Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.), and Sen. Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.), for taking this important step forward on behalf of our nation's children,” said Dr. Block. “Disasters – natural or manmade – don’t discriminate: Everyone is at risk. Now is the time to engage in preparedness efforts in our own homes and communities. Ensuring that the needs of children are integrated into those efforts is critical."