Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism

Source: Jeffrey Levi, Laura M. Segal, Dara Alpert Lieberman, Rebecca St. Laurent, Kendra May, Albert Lang, Trust for America’s Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, December 2012

From the summary:
In the 10th annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, 35 states and Washington, D.C. scored a six or lower on 10 key indicators of public health preparedness.
The report found that while there has been significant progress toward improving public health preparedness over the past 10 years, particularly in core capabilities, there continue to be persistent gaps in the country’s ability to respond to health emergencies, ranging from bioterrorist threats to serious disease outbreaks to extreme weather events. In the report, Kansas and Montana scored lowest – three out of 10 – and Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin scored highest – eight out of 10.

The Ready or Not? report provides a snapshot of our nation’s public health emergency preparedness. Its indicators are developed in consultation with leading public health experts based on data from publicly available sources, or information provided by public officials. Some key findings from the report include:

-29 states cut public health funding from fiscal years (FY) 2010-11 to 2011-12, with 23 of these states cutting funds for a second year in a row and 14 for three consecutive years. In addition, federal funds for state and local preparedness have decreased 38 percent from FY 2005-2012 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds, adjusted for inflation). States are reporting that gains in public health preparedness achieved in the past decade since September 11, 2001 are eroding, and since 2008, budget cuts have resulted in more than 45,700 job losses at state and local health departments;
-Only two states have met the national goal of vaccinating 90 percent of young children, ages 19-36 months, against whooping cough (pertussis). This year Washington state has seen one of the most significant whooping cough outbreaks in recent history;
-35 states and Washington, D.C. do not currently have complete climate change adaptation plans, which include planning for health threats posed by extreme weather events;
-20 states do not mandate all licensed child care facilities to have a multi-hazard written evacuation plan; and
-13 state public health laboratories report they do not have sufficient capacity to work five, 12-hour days for six to eight weeks in response to an infectious disease outbreak, such as novel influenza A H1N1.
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