The Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services will share $275 million to expand the BioWatch program, improve a nationwide bio threat reporting system and upgrade food and animal inspections.
If Congress approves the president's budget for fiscal year 2005, HHS would get $135 million to establish a nationwide reporting network to obtain daily information on outbreaks of diseases.
"We've never been able to get information on a daily basis from doctors, pharmacies and hospitals," said HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. "We will know in advance of any changes in health patterns."
He added that the system is in its embryonic stage and still has some ways to go. For example, the Internet infrastructure to connect all the reporting agencies must be built.
"We are working to come up with a way to do interoperability," said Thompson.
DHS would receive $129 million to double the BioWatch systems of monitors.
"These dollars will help improve the analytical capability," said Tom Ridge, DHS secretary.
The system has taken more than 500,000 samples in urban areas in less than a year, he said. …