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U.S. Department of Homeland Security  

President's Budget includes $274 million to futher improve nation's biosurveillance capabilities

Press Release January 29, 2004
Contact: DHS Press, 202-282-8010
HHS Press, 202-690-6343 

(Washington, DC) Jan.29, 2004 - Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Tom Ridge and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced that President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2005 budget request includes a $274 million Bio-Surveillance Program Initiative designed to protect the nation against bioterrorism and to strengthen the public health infrastructure. The initiative will enhance on-going surveillance programs in areas such as human health, hospital preparedness, state and local preparedness, vaccine research and procurement, animal health, food and agriculture safety and environmental monitoring and integrate those efforts into one comprehensive system. Further details of the initiative will be announced on February 2.

“These funds clearly reflect the President’s commitment to further enhance our capabilities to be prepared for and to respond to the threat of bioterrorism,” said Secretary Ridge. “This initiative will enable us to build upon the success of the BioWatch Program, an important public health tool, which has been operating in more than 30 cities across the nation since 2003.”

Building on unprecedented investments in our public health and bio-surveillance infrastructure since September 11, 2001, President Bush’s Bio-Surveillance Program Initiative calls on DHS to spend $129 million to expand and upgrade the BioWatch Program and create a system to integrate a broad variety of surveillance data from across the government. HHS would spend $135 million to strengthen laboratories, better monitor human health, and enhance food surveillance. In addition, the initiative provides $10 million to the Department of Agriculture to improve food and animal surveillance.

“Better bio-surveillance will mean early detection and improved response to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies,” said Secretary Thompson. “It is vital that we detect, monitor and treat any disease outbreak as quickly and efficiently as possible. This initiative will better integrate information to give us the tools we need to protect American families.”

Since September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration has spent or budgeted $12.9 billion to prepare and protect the nation from a bioterror attack, including $5.2 billion in the Fiscal Year 2004 budget. This is 15 times the $305 million spent in Fiscal Year 2001.

The President’s Bio-Surveillance Program Initiative includes:

Department of Homeland Security

Homeland Security will use $129 million to undertake two significant enhancements to its current bio-surveillance efforts.

$11 million to the Department’s Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP) division to develop a real-time system for harvesting data on the health of our population, animals, plants, and food supply and integrate this information with environmental monitoring and intelligence data as well. This integration will result in better informed decision making and a quicker federal, state and local response.

$65 million to the Department’s Science and Technology (S&T) division to enhance current environmental monitoring activities. When this additional investment is added to the $53 million already included in the President’s budget as base funding for Homeland Security’s bio-surveillance efforts, the total FY 2005 investment in this area would be $118 million. A key component of this initiative will be an expansion and deployment of the next generation of technologies related to the BioWatch Program, a bio-surveillance warning system.

Department of Health and Human Services

HHS would allocate $130 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support investments in human health surveillance. CDC will use these funds to improve linkages between public health laboratories, and border health and quarantine stations

· CDC will augment its current efforts by using automated analysis techniques on electronically available health-related data. In addition, public health, clinical, and private sector commercial laboratory capabilities will be expanded to provide timely and accurate diagnoses across the country.

· Border operations would be enhanced with public health quarantine stations expanded from 8 to up to 25 at U.S. international airports servings and other U.S. ports of entry.

· HHS would also provide $5 million to the Food and Drug Administration to help coordinate the agency’s existing food surveillance capabilities, establish connectivity with public health and environmental officials and the integrate with Homeland Security’s threat analysis.

“These investments not only will better prepare the nation for and protect us from a bioterror attack, they also will better prepare us for any public health emergency,” Secretary Thompson said. “We already have seen our investments pay off in CDC’s leadership in fighting the SARS outbreak last year and through a coordinated public health response to the West Nile Virus.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

USDA would use $10 million to improve food and animal surveillance conducted by the Food Safety and Inspection Services and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.