From the report: “On August 9, 2009, the White House charged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in coordination with the Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Department of State (DoS) to study characteristics and impact of the 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) (refer to as 2009 H1N1) outbreak in the Southern Hemisphere” in order “to assist the U.S. Government in its preparedness efforts.”
This report summarizes the “key events, actions taken, and authorities invoked by WHO, the U.S. federal government, and state and local governments” in response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic.
In an effort “to stop the global spread of the pandemic 2009-H1N1 influenza virus,” President Obama announced that the United States “is prepared to make 10 percent of its H1N1 vaccine supply available to other countries” that would “not otherwise have direct access to the vaccine.” The U.S. will provide the vaccines through the World Health Organization (WHO) as they become available.
In a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, President Obama referred to the recent H1N1 flu outbreak and requested that an additional $2 billion be included in the FY 2009 Supplemental Appropriations bill in order “to enhance our Nation’s capability to respond to the potential spread of this outbreak.”
The President also requested that Congress grant him the authority to access existing funds for potential flu preparedness and response efforts including:
- Funds “totaling up to one percent of amounts appropriated in division A of Public Law 111-5” (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act);
- “One percent of discretionary funds available to the Department of Health and Human Services in fiscal year 2009;” and
- “Funds appropriated under the heading ‘Biodefense Countermeasures’ in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2004 (Pub. L. No. 108-90).”
This report is an update to the May 26th report, “The 2009 Influenza A(H1N1) ‘Swine Flu’ Outbreak: U.S. Responses to Global Human Cases,” which provides an overview of the U.S. role in the global response to the H1N1 influenza outbreak highlighting efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and summarizing potential issues for future consideration.
GAO Testimony – Influenza Pandemic: Continued Focus on the Nation’s Planning and Preparedness Efforts Remains Essential
At a hearing before a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, GAO staff testified on U.S. planning and preparedness efforts to address a potential influenza pandemic.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Department of Homeland Secretary (DHS) Janet Napolitano released a joint statement on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decision to declare the H1n1 virus outbreak a pandemic. The statement provided a broad overview of the Administration’s previous and ongoing efforts to address the outbreak.
The report compiles information from previous GAO reports and testimonies and evaluates the readiness of the U.S. government to address a possible influenza pandemic.
Representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department for Homeland Security held a press conference detailing the U.S. response to recent cases of swine influenza A (H1N1), or swine flu. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano announced that HHS had declared a “public health emergency”. This designation enables the USG to mobilize treatment stockpiles and allocate additional resources for detection and tracking of the flu. The USG also announced that it is working closely with health officials from Mexico and Canada and with the World Health Organization to monitor the situation and the CDC has deployed staff domestically and internationally to provide guidance and technical support.
During the daily press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs read a letter President Obama sent to the chairs of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees asking that $1.5 billion be added to the supplemental budget request for the purpose of “enhancing our nation’s capability to respond to the potential spread” of the H1N1 swine flu virus. The President’s letter states that the funds would be used for “supplementing antiviral stockpiles, developing a vaccine, supporting the monitoring, diagnostic and public health response capabilities, and assisting international efforts to stem this outbreak.”