Approximately seven years ago, during the 16th Congress, the late senator Miriam Santiago introduced a bill, September 2013, seeking to strengthen national preparedness and response to public health emergencies.
The proposed law’s status in Senate’s database is: “Pending in the Committee (9/11/2013)”. If passed into law, the measure would have been called “Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act.”
“There is an old adage that states that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ This bill is built upon such wisdom by seeking to strengthen national response and preparedness for public health emergencies, such as those which result from natural disasters and severe weather, recent outbreaks and pandemics, bioterrorism, mass casualties, chemical emergencies, and radiation emergencies,” the late former senator said in her explanatory note for the proposed law.
She said that the “bill gives the Department of Health the mandate to undertake measures, such as evaluation, planning, organizing, and training, to improve national preparedness for public health emergencies.”
The senator, in the bill, proposed the creation of: National Health Strategy for Public Health Emergencies, Task Force on Public Emergencies, and Medical Reserve Corps.
“The Secretary of Health shall establish a medical reserve corps composed of volunteer health professionals. The Medical Reserve Corps shall be called into duty if needed during public health emergencies,” states in the proposed bill filed by Santiago.
The National Health Strategy for Public Health Emergencies “shall provide for integrated policy coordination and strategic direction with respect to all matters related to national public health and medical preparedness and execution and deployment of national response before, during, and following public health emergencies.”
One of the role of the proposed Task Force on Public Emergencies is to “disseminate and update novel and best practices of outreach to and care of at-risk individuals before, during, and, following public health emergencies in as timely a. manner as is practicable, including from the time a public health threat is identified.”