The White House recently announced its intentions to reorganize the federal health department in order to develop an independent division that focuses exclusively on responding to national health emergencies.
The decision emerges after substantial frustration and criticism have been directed at the. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding its response to the pandemic, as reported by the Washington Post.
For instance, various health officials in the administration sought to obtain more rapid COVID tests during the omicron surge over the past winter, but they were unable to set up the needed contracts, various sources informed the Post.
Consequently, under the proposed reorganization, which is expected to be phased in over the following two years, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) will become elevated into a separate division.
This office would fall under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
As a result of this change, the department will be able “to mobilize a coordinated national response more quickly and stably during future disasters and emergencies while equipping us with greater hiring and contracting capabilities.”
This new capability was announced by Dawn O’Connell, who serves as Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
O’Connell is poised to run the new division.
Individuals who support the plan point out that the changes will enable ASPR to avoid internal disagreements with other HHS divisions.
However, other public health experts believe that an important part of the response to the pandemic includes working alongside local and state health agencies, which is something that the CDC is more equipped to achieve.
ASPR was initially created in 2006 as part of the response to the disastrous aftermath of natural disasters, notably Hurricane Katrina.
“These changes are complementary to the broader ASPR reorganization,” O’Connell wrote, adding that the changes will start being implemented during “the second half of the year.”