Given the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, tensions are high, and Americans are questioning whether or not the virus will spread to the United States.
Following a recent audit, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a federal report, which showed that if a potential pandemic were to occur, the United States would be “ill-prepared.”
The report stated that, in 2006, Congress “appropriated $47 million in supplemental funding to DHS for necessary expenses to plan, train, and prepare for a potential pandemic.”
The DHS reported that it spent this funding on “personal protective equipment, pandemic research, exercises, and medical counter measures.”
The audit found that the DHS “did not adequately conduct a needs assessment prior to purchasing pandemic preparedness supplies,” and that it “did not effectively manage its stockpile of pandemic personal protective equipment and antiviral medical countermeasures.”
The report showed that the DHS has an inventory of “approximately 16 million surgical masks without demonstrating a need for that quantity,” and that it has a stockpile with 4,184 bottles of hand sanitizer that were expired, “some by up to 4 years.”
The report also revealed that, “81 percent of antiviral drugs acquired by the DHS Office of Health Affairs Component will expire by the end of 2015,” and that the stock of equipment for a possible pandemic includes 200,000 respirators that are past the five-year manufacturer’s guaranteed usability.
“DHS and its components do not know where its personal protective equipment is located, how much it has, and the usability of the stockpiles that exist,” the report said.
In a statement from Inspector General John Roth, he said, “DHS is responsible for ensuring it is adequately prepared to continue critical operations in the event of a pandemic.”
“We will work with them to see that this vital program is strengthened,” Roth said.