Public Health and Medical Preparedness

GAO-02-141T: Published: Oct 9, 2001. Publicly Released: Oct 9, 2001.

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Federal research and preparedness activities related to bioterrorism center on detecting of such agents; developing new or improved vaccines, antibiotics, and antivirals; and developing performance standards for emergency response equipment. Preparedness activities include: (1) increasing federal, state, and local response capabilities; (2) developing response teams; (3) increasing the availability of medical treatments; (4) participating in and sponsoring exercises; (5) aiding victims; and (6) providing support at special events, such as presidential inaugurations and Olympic games. To coordinate their activities, federal agencies are developing interagency response plans, participating in various interagency work groups, and entering into formal agreements with each other to share resources and capabilities. However, GAO found that coordination of federal terrorism research, preparedness, and response programs is fragmented, raising concerns about the ability of states and localities to respond to a bioterrorist attack. These concerns include poor state and local planning and the lack of hospital participation in training on terrorism and emergency response planning. This report summarized a September 2001 report (GAO-01-915).

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