Congress takes step to support BARDA’s mission of pandemic preparedness
Congress recently passed the Pandemics and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act, or PAHPAI, which will allow the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, to strengthen the country’s preparedness against a variety of global disease threats.
The passage of PAHPAI reauthorizes certain programs, such as BARDA, under the Public Health Service Act and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
According to a statement from Jamie Bay Nishi, director of the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), BARDA possesses “unique capabilities” to combat chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, as well as naturally occurring threats, such as pandemics.
“Diseases punish the unprepared. We need a research infrastructure primed for a rapid response,” Nishi said.
BARDA has been funded “piecemeal” to combat emerging infectious disease threats, according to Nishi. They received emergency appropriations for Zika and Ebola, but that money is almost gone despite the escalating Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Although the agency is expected to receive a modest increase from the House of Representatives’ proposed fiscal year 2020 appropriation, Nishi is calling on Congress for more money.
“BARDA’s reinforced authority to pursue Strategic Initiatives against naturally occurring threats can provide a significant contribution to our nation’s defenses,” Nishi said. “But this authority is of limited value without sufficient funding. We urge Congress to provide BARDA with a budget that is aligned with its mandate — and its unique capacity to deliver new tools to fight back against intensifying threats like Ebola; unexpected emergencies like Zika; and smoldering problems, like the steady, ominous rise in drug-resistant infections, and the near certainty of a future fight against a deadly strain of pandemic influenza.”
Disclosures: Nishi is the director of GHTC.