Trust for America's Health Initiatives

Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness

Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness

Health emergencies pose some of the greatest threats to our nation, because they can be difficult to prepare for, detect, and contain. Important progress has been made to improve emergency preparedness since September 11, 2001, the subsequent anthrax attack, and Hurricane Katrina; three events that put severe stress on our public health system. However, major problems still remain in our readiness to respond to large-scale emergencies and natural disasters. The country is still insufficiently prepared to protect people from disease outbreaks, natural disasters, or acts of bioterrorism, leaving Americans unnecessarily vulnerable to these threats.




Policy and Advocacy

For TFAH position statements and letters, congressional hearings, briefings and testimony, and additional policy and advocacy materials, click here.

Press Releases

July 23, 2015
TFAH Releases Issue Brief – The Clean Water Rule: Clearing up Confusion to Protect Public Health

June 23, 2015
TFAH Statement: Lancet Commission and White House Summit Highlight Urgent Need to Address Climate Change Health Threats

February 4, 2015
Measles Vaccination Rates for Preschoolers Below 90 Percent in 17 States

February 3, 2015
Trust for America’s Health’s Statement on the Public Health Aspects of the President’s Proposed Budget

December 18, 2014
“Outbreaks” Report Finds Gaps in Nation’s Ability to Respond to Ebola and Other Infectious Diseases; 25 States Reach Half or Fewer of Key Indicators

More press releases


Selected items from TFAH's Resource Library:

Emergency Preparedness Criteria -- Save the Children 1.2 million Gulf Coast residents evacuate in anticipation of the storm...163,105 children in Louisiana and Mississippi are displaced following the storm...50,000 children in the region do not attend school during the 2005-06 school year six months after Katrina...the last of 5,192 children is united with family...37 percent of Louisiana Children experience clinically-diagnosed depression, anxiety, or behavior disorder.

Half of Americans Could Be Obese By 2030… Or We Could Invest In The Prevention Fund Half of Americans could be obese By 2030...or we could invest in the Prevention Fund. An analysis conducted by the National Heart Forum, based on a peer-reviewed model published last year in The Lancet, estimates that that 50 percent of Americans are on track to be obese in the next 20 years.1 Obesity could even top 60 percent in 13 states. Right now, 36 percent of Americans are obese.

NACCHO National Profile of Local Health Departments On January 21, 2014, NACCHO released the 2013 National Profile of Local Health Departments report on its new Profile website, The report demonstrates continued funding cuts across several programmatic areas at local health departments (LHDs), including emergency preparedness. Funding for emergency preparedness, particularly per capita funding, saw a significant drop in 2013, with LHDs reporting median per capita funding of $1.15 in 2013 compared to $2.07 per capita in 2010.

Public Health Preparedness 101 Over a decade ago, the nation faced tremendous threats during the September 11th and anthrax tragedies. Medical and public health professionals were immediately called on to respond to the crisis, and responded heroically—despite limited resources. It quickly became clear that public health system needed to be updated in order to respond to emergent health threats, giving rise to the notion of public health preparedness: the ability of our public health system to quickly, effectively, and actively respond to any health disaster that may strike. Prevention, identification, and containment of disease outbreaks, bioterrorism, and natural disasters remain pivotal components of a public health system which is prepared to address the needs of the country.

TFAH's Serena Vinter, Dara Alpert Lieberman and Jeffrey Levi author Harvard Law and Policy Review Journal Article:Public Health Preparedness in a Reforming Health System The 2009–2010 H1N1 novel influenza A pandemic revealed serious underlying gaps in our nation’s ability to respond to public health emergencies.1 H1N1 is the latest in a string of public health crises Americans have faced in the past decade, which have included a nationwide food-borne disease outbreak in June and July of 2008, natural disasters like the California wildfires in August 2007 and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and man-made disasters including the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 and the anthrax mailings in October of the same year. These public health emergencies have tested our nation’s ability to respond to threats.

More resources