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Heightened Vigilance for Public Health Threats

One of the most important missions of the nation is preparedness for public health threats, whether they are biological terrorism - the deliberate use of disease as a weapon - or the outbreak of an infectious disease that makes no distinctions among people or borders. An effective biodefense will require a long-term strategy and significant new investment in the U.S. health care system.

Preventing a bioterrorist attack is of paramount importance to the security of our country. The President is committed to making sure that, should an attack occur, the nations' public health system is prepared to handle it successfully. To that end, the Department of Health and Human Services is providing the medical and public health resources and the leadership that America needs to respond effectively to any act of bioterrorism or infectious disease outbreaks.

The President's budget includes $5.9 billion for bioterrorism preparedness, an increase of $4.5 billion - more than three times the 2002 base funding level. This budget supports a variety of activities to prevent, identify and respond to incidents of bioterrorism. The infrastructure of State and local health systems will be strengthened, including enhancing medical communications and disease surveillance capabilities, to maximize their contribution to the overall biodefense of the Nation.

There will be improvement in the specialized Federal capabilities to respond in coordination with State and local governments, and private capabilities in the event of a bioterrorist incident as well as a build up the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile.

The budget will help meet the medical needs of bioterrorism response plans by developing specific new vaccines, medicines, and diagnostic tests through an aggressive research and development program. The NIH will receive $1.7 billion for research into new vaccines and diagnostics as well as strengthening the security of its facilities. The FDA will have additional funding for its review of vaccines and diagnostics. And the CDC will see increases for the security of its facilities as well as upgrading its lab capacity.

Finally, the administration will continue its investment in strengthening the public health system -- sending more money to states and hospitals, including educating our medical personnel on how to recognize and treat diseases. The ability of our public health system to respond to a bioterrorism attack is improving each and every day. This new investment shows the President is determined to make sure our response capabilities get to where they need to be at the federal, state and local levels.