Failure in preparedness, more than a grade

The Trust for America's Health (TFAH) report card on our Nation's preparedness affirmed that the United States is not prepared to respond effectively to a natural disaster or act of terrorism. The report is the organization's third annual study of U.S. preparedness for major health emergencies. Evaluating 12 different aspects of health emergency preparedness, the study ranked both the federal and the states performances. The federal government received an overall D+, and over half the states
garnered a score of 5 or less out of 10 possible points for key indicators of health emergency preparedness, such as capabilities to test for chemical and biological threats and hospital surge capacity to care for patients in a mass emergency.
Hawaii was one of 16 states to receive only 5 out of the ten indicators.

"We need to stop shrugging our shoulders and start rolling up our sleeves," Lowell Weicker, Jr., TFAH Board President is quoted as saying. TFAH formulated a Let's Get Real agenda for accelerated preparedness which includes:
  • Leadership - "There needs to be a single, accountable official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responsible for bioterrorism and public health preparedness."

  • Accountability - currently there are "no defined, standardized performance measures for bioterrorism preparedness from CDC or regular reports of progress and vulnerabilities to the American people and Congress."

  • Working with the Public - "The government should provide more consistent education and transparency to the public, so there will be greater understanding of roles and responsibilities during a difficult situation."

  • Improving Basic Response Capabilities - "Information technology systems, emergency communications systems, and laboratory and other equipment all need to be modernized to meet current technology."

The Public Health Foundation (PHF) in response to the study called on Congress " to make new investments to eliminate the chaos and confusion that contributed to our woefully inadequate response to disasters like Hurricane Katrina."

Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Disease, Disasters, and Bioterrorism, 2005
(available in pdf, 1.8MB)

Executive Summary (available in pdf, 200KB)

See related FR posts, here and here

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