Federal support for health security research is heavily weighted toward preparing for bioterrorism and other biological threats, providing significantly less funding for challenges such as monster storms or attacks with conventional bombs, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
The findings, published in the December issue of the journal Health Affairs, come from the first-ever inventory of national health security-related research funded by civilian agencies of the federal government.
Researchers say recent events such as Super-storm Sandy, tornadoes in the Midwest, and major earthquakes around the world highlight the need to prepare the nations health care system for a broad array of natural and manmade disasters. Beginning in 2010, researchers canvassed seven non-defense agencies whose research addresses topics relevant to the objectives of the National Health Security Strategy, a plan completed in 2009 to guide efforts by the government and others to defend the nation from a large-scale public health threats, both natural and manmade.
More than 1,000 of the studies (66 percent) were directed toward biological threats, including bioterrorism, emerging infectious diseases, food-borne illness, and pandemic influenza. Fewer than 10 percent of the total pool of projects addressed natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods. The remaining projects addressed threats that were chemical (8 percent), radiological (5 percent), nuclear (4 percent), or explosive (4 percent).