CDC Official Protests Federal Medical Response Cuts

Diane Barnes | | April 29, 2014

A senior U.S. public-health official has taken a stand against his department's latest push to cut federal funds to an array of medical-readiness initiatives. More than half a decade of reductions to spending on state and local public-health agencies has already been "extremely damaging" to capabilities across the country for responding to unconventional attacks and other disasters, Dr. Ali Khan, director of the Public Health Preparedness and Response Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Global Security Newswire in an interview.

The Health and Human Services Department's latest push would further undermine initiatives that are now "stagnant," Khan argued. "We used to have a $1 billion public health preparedness program, [and] that is almost two-thirds to one-half that size at this point," said Khan, referring to a range of programs that received an infusion of federal dollars after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "With every new cut, that's fewer people at the state and local health departments, and fewer supports for public health systems that are keeping people safe from daily threats."

Reductions sought in the health agency's fiscal 2015 budget proposal include a $28 million cut to spending on the Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant initiative. Khan described that as a critical funding source for laboratories and specialists needed to contain disease outbreaks, including any caused intentionally...