Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act Signed Into Law
The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is pleased to announce the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 (PAHPA) has been signed into law today by President Donald Trump. PAHPA was originally created in 2005 to improve the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response capabilities for emergencies, whether deliberate, accidental, or natural. The original law sunset in 2018 and needed to be reauthorized. For the first time, the law now specifically identifies environmental health as an essential contributor to the nation’s health and well-being. This FAQ outlines some of the relevant major changes in the current version.
What is PAHPA and why is it important?
Hurricane Katrina highlighted the need to enhance coordination among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial entities to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks of plant or animal disease that could compromise national security, international adulteration of food, or other public health threats directly related to public health emergency preparedness and response capabilities. PAHPA created the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to achieve this goal. In an oversight, however, the original law omitted explicit mention of environmental health agencies or professionals. The result of this omission was that environmental health professionals were generally absent from emergency preparedness exercises and planning.
How is environmental health mentioned in the law?
- The law specifically outlines who ASPR considers appropriate partners to consult and engage with as it relates to healthcare providers and professionals.
- The list includes physicians, nurses, first responders, healthcare facilities (including hospitals, primary care clinics, community health centers, mental health facilities, ambulatory facilities, and dental health facilities), pharmacies, emergency medical providers, trauma care providers, environmental health agencies, public health laboratories, poison control centers, blood banks, tissue banks, and other experts that ASPR determines appropriate.
- The law makes changes in reference to laboratories.
- The reference to “clinical laboratories” has been changed to “clinical laboratories and public environmental health agencies.”
- The law identifies measurable steps for ASPR.
- These steps include modernization and enhanced biosurveillance activities, as well as strategies to include innovative technologies and analytical approaches (e.g., prediction and forecasting for pandemic and all-hazards) from public and private entities.
- The law has a redesignation of human health.
- PAHPA has inserted “taking into account zoonotic diseases, including gaps in scientific understanding of the interactions between human, animal, and environmental health” after “human health.”
- The law changes the definition of situational awareness and biosurveillance as a national security priority.
- Under the Situational Awareness and Biosurveillance as a National Security Priority section, “environmental health agencies” has been inserted after “public health agencies.”
- The law directs federal departments to work with state, local, tribal, and territorial public health labs and other biological threat detections to include the collaboration regarding the development of a coordinated environmental remediation plan.
- The law directs the reporting on public health preparedness and response capabilities of hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare facilities to include environmental health.
The law includes an evaluation of coordination efforts between the recipients of federal funding for programs described in Subparagraph (A) and environmental health agencies with expertise in emergency preparedness and response planning for hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare facilities.
“PAHPA puts environmental health professionals at the table to ensure that every community is prepared for environmental hazards in the event of a natural or man-made disaster,” said NEHA’s Director of Government Affairs Joanne Zurcher.
NEHA’s commitment to emergency preparedness continues at its 2019 Annual Educational Conference (AEC) & Exhibition, July 9–12, in Nashville, Tennessee. NEHA is thrilled to have Dr. Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, as the 2019 AEC keynote speaker.
About the National Environmental Health Association
The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is a professional society with more than 6,500 members in the public and private sectors as well as in universities and uniformed services. NEHA's mission, "To advance the environmental health professional for the purpose of providing a healthful environment for all" is fulfilled in the products and services offered by NEHA to advance the environmental health professional through credentialing, training, education, networking, professional development, and policy involvement opportunities. Learn more about NEHA at www.neha.org.