States lagging in emergency preparedness, report shows

December 19th, 2012 in Health /
States lagging in emergency preparedness: report
Budget cuts, complacency threaten gains in U.S. readiness, public health experts warn.


Budget cuts, complacency threaten gains in U.S. readiness, public health experts warn.

(HealthDay)—While significant progress has been made in the past 10 years, many states still fall short in their preparedness for public health emergencies such as disease outbreaks, natural disasters and bioterrorist attacks, according to a new report.

It found that 35 states and Washington, D.C. scored 6 or lower on 10 key indicators of preparedness. Kansas and Montana scored lowest—3 of 10—while Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin scored highest, with 8 of 10.

The scores of other states were:

The 10th annual report was released Wednesday by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Among the key findings:

"In the past decade, there have been a series of significant health emergencies, including extreme weather events, a flu pandemic and foodborne outbreaks," Jeffrey Levi, executive director of TFAH, said in a news release from the group.

"But, for some reason, as a country, we haven't learned that we need to bolster and maintain a consistent level of health emergency preparedness. Investments made after Sept. 11, the anthrax attacks and Hurricane Katrina led to dramatic improvements, but now budget cuts and complacency are the biggest threats we face," Levi said.

"Public health preparedness has improved leaps and bounds from where we were 10 years ago," Paul Kuehnert, director of the public health team at the RWJF, said in the news release. "But severe at the federal, state and local levels threaten to undermine that progress. We must establish a baseline of 'better safe than sorry' preparedness that should not be crossed."

The report offers a number of recommendations to fill many of the major gaps in preparedness for :

More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines what you can do to prepare for an emergency.

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"States lagging in emergency preparedness, report shows." December 19th, 2012. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-12-states-lagging-emergency-preparedness.html