State public health laboratories; sustaining preparedness in an unstable environment
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State public health laboratories; sustaining preparedness in an unstable environment

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    "The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) conducted its first assessment of state public health laboratories' (SPHL) all-hazards preparedness in 2007. Since then SPHLs have made incremental progress in building and maintaining new partnerships, hiring and training new personnel, conducting outreach to build statewide laboratory networks, providing training to other laboratories and partners, and implementing formal exercises and drills to assess gaps in planning, testing capability and capacity. However, in this era of budget deficits, increasing expectations and evolving threats, the ability of state public health laboratories to sustain core preparedness functions is in jeopardy. APHL conducted data collection for its second All-Hazards Laboratory Preparedness Survey in fall 2008 to document both the improvements that laboratories have made and the challenges that they face. Participants reported on laboratory capability and capacity for biological, chemical and radiological terrorism preparedness for a period of 12 months from August 31, 2007 to August 30, 2008, representing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Cooperative Agreement Fiscal Year 2007 (FY 07), also known as Budget Period 8. The 2008 survey was sent to the 50 states, the District of Columbia (DC) and Puerto Rico. Fifty-one responses were received, representing all states and the District of Columbia for a response rate of 98%. Despite notable improvements, serious gaps in workforce and real-time electronic data messaging still remain. The area most impacted by funding cuts is workforce, the core of a laboratory's ability to respond. Many laboratories are being forced to combine positions, such as scientists and training coordinators, when both jobs are necessary for an effective response. Not only is the ability to respond to an event compromised with fewer staff, but so is the ability to take on mounting responsibilities, such as training partners and adding new detection methods. " - p. 5

    This APHL Report was supported under Cooperative Agreement #U60/CCU303019 between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response, Laboratory Response Branch, and the National Center for Environmental Health and the Association of Public Health Laboratories.

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