Biosurveillance: Efforts to Develop a National Biosurveillance Capability Need a National Strategy and a Designated Leader
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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Federal agencies with biosurveillance responsibilities--including the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Agriculturehave taken or plan to take actions to develop the skilled personnel, training, equipment, and systems that could support a national biosurveillance capability. GAO previously reported that as the threats to national security have evolved over the past decades, so have the skills needed to prepare for and respond to those threats. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC officials stated that skilled personnel shortages threaten the capacity to detect potentially catastrophic biological events as they emerge in humans, animals, or plants. To address this issue, some federal agencies are planning or have taken actions to attract and maintain expertise using fellowships, incentives, and cooperative agreements. Moreover, CDC has called for the development of a national training and education framework to articulate professional roles and competencies necessary for biosurveillance. The Department of Agriculture has also developed training programs to help ensure that diseases and pests that could harm plants or animals can be identified. In addition, federal agencies have taken various actions designed to promote timely detection and situational awareness by developing 1 information sharing and analysis mechanisms, 2 laboratory networks to enhance diagnostic capacity, and 3 equipment and technologies to enhance early detection and situational awareness.
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