July 12, 2006 — The V.I. government is slated to receive more than $170,000 in grants for pandemic influenza planning from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to a V.I. Health Department release issued Wednesday.
The grant is part of an additional $225 million, or Phase II funding, to be distributed to states and territories in order to prepare for an influenza pandemic, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt announced Tuesday.
Since January, Leavitt and other top U.S. Health officials, including Surgeon General Richard Carmona, have joined the governors of states and territories for a series of state pandemic influenza summits.
Carmona was present at the territory's summit held on March 23 at Marriott Frenchman's Reef. At that time he and Gov. Charles W. Turnbull signed a Memorandum of Understanding for collaborative efforts between the local and federal government on pandemic flu planning.
"These funds will build on the work begun at the summits and help local, tribal, territorial and state public health officials as they undertake critical preparedness planning that communities must do themselves," Leavitt said.
Leavitt said that the Phase II funds were included in $350 million of emergency appropriations passed by Congress in December for upgrading state and local pandemic influenza preparedness.
In February, the first phase of $100 million was awarded to states for planning and exercising of pandemic response plans and to identify gaps in preparedness.
The second phase of funding is being awarded to begin addressing those identified gaps.
The territory had previously received $126,461 in funding during Phase I and is slated to receive $170,949 by August for Phase II, according to Mark Green, public health advisor assigned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Green has scheduled a pandemic influenza discussion later this month as part of the territory's preparedness efforts. The exercise, which will include partners such as the territory's hospitals and clinics, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19 in Room 1016 at Charles Harwood Medical Complex on St. Croix.
"We will exercise the territory's pan flu plan and discuss the outcome of how a pandemic outbreak may impact the Virgin Island's businesses and healthcare community," Green said.
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