Feds Designate UAlbany a Center for Public Health Preparedness

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980

The University at Albany School of Public Health has been designated a regional Center for Public Health Preparedness, one of 15 named by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and endorsed by Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.

The school's preparedness center, which serves the northeast, will receive a portion of $20 million in 2002 funding for a nationwide network of such centers. The funding is part of the $2.9 billion bioterrorism appropriations signed by President Bush on Jan. 10.

The center's primary mission is to work with communities and local health departments to prepare the nation's public health and healthcare workforce to respond to terrorist incidents and other emerging health threats. UAlbany's $1 million award will be used to bolster the area's public health infrastructure and provide training for the public health workforce to deal with health catastrophes.

"The University and the state's health department envisioned our Center for Health Preparedness long before recent events in the country caused many to focus on responses to potential widespread health disasters," said UAlbany President Karen R. Hitchcock. "This long-term planning has prepared us to meet a great challenge, and with it we are reaching out to serve and support not only our community, but the nation."

New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H. said, "The ability of the public health community to unite as a cohesive force as we deal with bioterrorism will be essential as we prepare to respond to previously unthinkable threats. In a very real sense, public health is finally recognized as being on the front lines of this battle. The University at Albany School of Public Health has long been a valued partner in our work to protect the health of New Yorkers. Governor Pataki and I believe that now, more than ever, that partnership has become absolutely crucial."

In September 2000, the University and the Association of Schools of Public Health, as well as state and local public health agencies and other academic and community institutions, partnered with the Centers for Disease Control (part of HHS) to begin developing a national system of Centers for Public Health Preparedness.

"This is a great step forward for training and improving the capacity of the public health infrastructure to deal with disaster and possible bioterrorism," said School of Public Health Dean Peter J. Levin. "One of our goals is to have an expert on bioterrorism in every county in the state."

In addition to the University at Albany, 14 university schools of public health will share this year's funding. Among them are Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and Harvard University School of Public Health, Boston.

Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit https://www.albany.edu.



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