US disaster preparedness faces severe fund crunch: Report

Washington, Jan 10 (IANS) The US, which bolstered government funding to help communities respond and recover after man-made and natural disasters post Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks, is now facing a significant fund crunch.

According to a report published by the Washington-based Institute of Medicine, the disaster funding has fallen considerably since the economic crisis in 2008.
“Furthermore, disaster funding distribution is deeply inefficient. Huge cash infusions are disbursed right after a disaster, only to fall abruptly after interest wanes. These issues have exposed significant problems with our nation’s preparedness for public health emergencies,” said Jesse Pines, director at the George Washington University’s (GW) school of medicine and health sciences (SMHS).
“With more limited government funding in the foreseeable future, the government needs to be smarter about how it spends its money on emergency preparedness in this country,” added Seth Seabury, associate professor at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.
The federal government should develop and assess measures of emergency preparedness both at the community-level and across communities in the US, said the study titled ‘Value-Based Models for Sustaining Emergency Preparedness Capacity and Capability in the United States’.
Local communities should build coalitions or use existing coalitions to build public-private partnerships with local hospitals and other businesses with a stake in preparedness, it added.
“The more locals buy into the importance of preparedness, the more resilient a community is,” said Pines.
How Boston responded and recovered so effectively after the marathon bombings in April 2013 is a great example of a prepared community, he added.